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Zero Carbon bill announced

Written By: - Date published: 4:44 pm, May 8th, 2019 - 40 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, disaster, Environment, farming, global warming, greens, labour, national, nz first, science - Tags:

The long awaited Zero Carbon bill has now been released.

From Henry Cooke at Stuff:

The Government’s flagship climate change policy will treat biological methane far more softly than all other greenhouse gas emissions – but still mandates a large reduction.

Governments will be mandated to reduce biological methane by at least 10 per cent by 2030 and between 24 and 47 per cent by 2050. All other emissions would be reduced to “net zero” by 2050 to limit global warming increases to 1.5C.

Despite the softer approach to methane, which mainly comes from agriculture, the Government has not managed to win the full support of the National Party, although the party is supportive of the main structure of the bill.

The overall change is welcome.  The bill will aim for net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.  Again from Stuff:

The bill would set greenhouse gas emissions targets into law and force future governments to come up with plans to meet “stepping stone” targets on the way there, with an endpoint target of net zero long-lived emissions in 2050 and a large reduction in biological methane emissions – somewhere between a “provisional range” of 24 per cent and 47 per cent in gross reductions. The main enforcement mechanism each Government has is envisioned to be the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Biological methane emissions, which largely come from livestock belching, would need to be reduced by 10 per cent by 2030 from 2017 levels. The “provisional range” will be reviewed by the independent Climate Change Commission, which this bill sets up, in 2024.

All other greenhouse gases – including carbon dioxide from power production and transport – would need to be reduced to “net zero” – meaning offsetting methods like forestry will be key.

National has reserved its position on the bill.  So no consensus on this most important of issues.  –0And the farmers are not happy.  From DairyNZ’s website:

New Zealand is already one of the lowest emissions producers of dairy nutrition in the world but, right now, the dairy sector is responsible for 22.5 percent of all New Zealand’s emissions. We are committed to playing our part in addressing climate change for the emissions we produce on-farm.

The Government’s Zero Carbon Bill will put in place targets to reduce all greenhouse gases:

  • Carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide have to reduce to net zero by 2050.
  • Methane has a 2030 target to reduce by 10%, and a provisional target of 24-47% reduction by 2050

DairyNZ does not support the provisional range for the 2050 methane reduction target. Throughout the select committee process this year we will be seeking an amendment to the 2050 target so that it is aligned with the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, of 10 – 22 per cent reduction in methane.  When combined with our commitment on nitrous oxide to net zero, this is an equitable, yet ambitious and challenging target, that is grounded in science.

Greenpeace have the opposite concerns about the legislation, that it may not have sufficient power. Russell Norman said this:

Greenpeace Executive Director, Dr Russel Norman, says The Zero Carbon Amendment Bill has no ability to enforce its climate change targets.

The Bill, released today, aims to outline a framework for New Zealand to develop climate change policies that contribute to the effort under the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees by 2050.

But Norman says the Bill will have little direct effect because it has specifically written out any mechanism that would hold any person or body to account for not adhering to it.

“What we’ve got here is a reasonably ambitious piece of legislation that’s then had the teeth ripped out of it. There’s bark, but there’s no bite,” he says.

“The Bill sends some good signals until you get to the section at the end that negates everything else you’ve just read. This section states there is no remedy or relief for failure to meet the 2050 target, meaning there’s no legal compulsion for anyone to take any notice.

“The most anyone can do is get a court to make a ‘declaration’ that the Government isn’t achieving its climate goals, but this declaration doesn’t make the Government actually do anything.”

He is referring to section 5ZJ of the Bill which says this:

5ZJ Effect of failure to meet 2050 target and emissions budgets

(1)  No remedy or relief is available for failure to meet the 2050 target or an emissions budget, and the 2050 target and emissions budgets are not enforceable in a court of law, except as set out in this section.

(2)  If the 2050 target or an emissions budget is not met, a court may make a declaration to that effect, together with an award of costs.

(3)  If a declaration is made and becomes final after all appeals or rights of appeal expire or are disposed of, the Minister must, as soon as practicable, present to the House of Representatives a document that—

(a) brings the declaration to the attention of the House of Representatives; and

(b) contains advice on the Government’s response to the declaration.

No doubt the boffins will be checking into this overtime.  But the basic premise, that New Zealand should have reached carbon neutrality by 2050 is a worthy goal.

Let us hope that it can meet this goal.  And that this will be sufficient.

40 comments on “Zero Carbon bill announced ”

  1. Pat 1

    now lets see how much more time they waste getting some policy to achieve said goals

  2. patricia bremner 2

    Jacinda Ardern said "Consensus is my job". Unfortunately others are thinking of their personal supporters requirements, not NZ's or the Planet's needs. So Farming has won.

    Sad day. The voters have to give more votes to Labour and Green to bring in the needed changes. This will not be easy and it will go badly for us if we try to "Hedge our bets"

    • Robert Guyton 2.1

      Patricia – I/S says:

      " The variable methane target will be determined by a review in 2024, but the minimum level stabilises the level of warming from methane, while the upper limit would reduce it significantly. And even the interim 2030 target is going to mean reducing the number of cows, with flow-on benefits for water quality.

      (As for that review in 2024, I would argue that we need to go harder on methane rather than softer. Because the goal isn't to "stabilise" warming, but to reduce it. Reducing methane is the fastest and most effective way of doing this in the short term, and cutting it hard will help buy us time for reducing longer-lived gases. We're in real danger of "positive feedback", existing warming making it worse, so anything we can do to reduce heat as quickly as possible is good. This is a crisis and we need to act like it)."

      • patricia bremner 2.1.1

        Robert, They argued methane was "less harmful" because it didn't last as long. Wrong Wrong. Reducing is the answer.

        • Robert Guyton 2.1.1.1

          What, Patricia, does Jeanette Fitzsimons say about methane, do you know?

          • patricia bremner 2.1.1.1.1

            Robert if I have remembered… Jeanette said something like, methane 120 times the warming of the same volume? of carbon dioxide.? We should cut methane hard to take us back to 1990 levels and hold it there to give time to lower the slower degradation of other gases such as the carbon dioxide. Remembering natural emissions continue .

            I fear it appears we may have really reached a tipping point and the twelve years could be wishful thinking.

  3. Robert Guyton 3

    I reckon "things" are coming into focus. That's good.

    • patricia bremner 3.1

      100% At least we are talking and making a start, and not saying "What climate change?"

      • Robert Guyton 3.1.1

        Yes. I don't think we'll make much difference to The Change, but we'll be in a better space for taking action as it happens 🙂 For that, I thank The Greens.

  4. WeTheBleeple 4

    We've passed toothless legislation full of hot air statements from Paris and now yet another long and tedious round of getting nothing.

    Nobody will be held to task.

    Thus nobody will give a flying f***.

    You've been living in a dream if you think the average NZ'er will act altruistically because a bill says so.

    Farmers, landlords, bankers, that's who this bill is for. Reassurance that the hippies can fuck right off.

  5. cleangreen 5

    The "Zero carbon bill"

    It's not ground shaking stuff that the greens settled on, but I hope the science comes along soon to show we need to speed up our changes before the planet goes into irreversible meltdown.

    Transport will need to change radically and a shift from road to rail needing to be at the centre of the changes now as roads use high amounts of VOC's in both repairs and asphalt that are at the centre of the emissions of carbon along with the use of oil based synthetic tyres.

    This was our press release today to scoop.

    Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre, CEAC supports Zero Carbon Bill.

    Press release by Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre.

    8th May 2019.

    We at CEAC support the Zero Carbon Bill as New Zealand’s actions are going to help change the climate.

    We may only account for just a few per cent of global emissions but we are widely respected as a “clean green country” so we need to lead by example here to encourage others to follow.

    ACT Leader is not voting for the Zero Carbon Bill and seems to want to just to be a follower or sit on the fence on such an important issue facing our young and old citizens going forward’

    NZ is a flood prone country with a very large exposed ‘coastline surrounded by one of the largest areas of sea around it, that is subject to flooding on future’ and if we don’t lower our climate emissions collectively, many properties and lives are at seriously stake here.

    TRANSPORT CARBON EMISSIONS ‘COMMON SENSE’

    This has been our focus since 2001 to lower the use of fossil fuels and climate emissions when we had solid support for using more rail from Helen Clark’s Labour Government, as they gave support of our calls for “common sense” multiple transport modalities in our submissions to Government and councils as we were asking to use more rail freight and lower the truck gridlock & carbon emissions, but sadly now we are again facing truck gridlock as National ran ‘rail down’ in their last term.

    Labour coalition again need to pick up where in 2002 Helen Clark wrote to our Environmental Centre offering to support us by sending us her Minister of Finance and the CEO of Transit NZ (now NZTA) to try and find resolution to lower the truck freight problems.

    These and others agreed to place a rail service transport link into “Watties” (now/Watties/Hienz as the largest cannery export business in HB that are supporting our community.

    The Watties press release in the HB Today claimed it would remove over 12,000 trucks a year from our roads in HB, and this was a large successful commitment then, so we need to encourage more examples of this by adopting the Zero Carbon Bill to save lives and the climate also.

    Also RNZ news announced that In support of this year’s Road Safety Week theme of Save Lives, #SpeakUp, Julie Anne Genter told RNZ that the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is actively looking at reducing the speed limit on some roads to reduce fatalities.

    https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/other/genter-confident-nz-supports-more-appropriate-speed-limits/ar-AAAXot3
    So as to road safety, we at Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre want rail to strongly feature also in the transport modality choices that our councils and government with us all make in future for those reasons of ‘road safety and climate change emissions reductions’, that associate Minister of transport Julie Anne Genter has now advocated for the same logic.

    Our narrow winding roads are not designed for those ultra-heavy trucks nor their increased speeds, and we support the Zero Carbon Bill for “common sense” policies that it encourages.

    We have always advocated for rail passenger and freight services to be restored since the public became the owner once again of the rail system, so Government needs to be encouraged to take action to get rail going again to lower carbon emissions in our provinces during their term of Government.

    Secretary.
    Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre. (CEAC) 2001.

  6. AB 6

    Voluntary adherence means people accepting that they will have less money, less stuff and lower material living standards (as conventionally measured). Given that self-sacrifice does not sit high in the list of contemporary values – fat chance.

    Enforcement means 'coercion' – cue screams of outrage that make the anti-CGT apoplexy look like a mild disagreement.

    I try not to despair – but some days it's tough.

  7. Ad 7

    Shaw has done exceedingly well to get National to "reserve" position rather than usual "oppose" position.

    This is much stronger policy and execution response than the welfare and tax policy outcomes.

    Great start James, and all power to you for the months ahead.

    • Dennis Frank 7.1

      He's achieved the maximum that is possible under current realpolitik. NZF & National are competing for the farmer's slice of the electorate pie. MMP is his handicap. So I agree with your appraisal.

      Prior negative comments are correct – but they apply only to what the situation requires. They don't factor in that politics is the art of the possible. Democracy is part of the problem, but James is forced to use it as if it were part of the solution. Castenada's controlled folly applies (have faith that it works, hope for the best, it ain't over till it's over, etc).

      • BM 7.1.1

        He’s achieved the maximum that is possible under current realpolitik

        James and the Greens could bring the government down at any point, why are the Greens so dickless? why do they roll over and show their bellies on absolutely everything?

        They could cut this governments throat and they’d be guaranteed to get well over 5% of the vote at the next election, my guess is that the baubles mean more to James and the Greens then trying to save the earth.

        Facts are, like the Greens, Labour has nowhere to go, not like they’re going to go into coalition with National, there’s no need for the greens to be such simpering weaklings.

        • Ad 7.1.1.1

          The Greens are not dicks. They are pussies.

          That's according to America World Police.

          They would much rather subtly getting things done than fuck things up.

          And I respect them for that.

          Guaranteed they'll and for more and get more at the next coalition talks, now that they can see what can be asked for.

          • BM 7.1.1.1.1

            Good one fella, you respect the Greens only because they do what Labour says, they're useful idiots, that is all.

            This carbon bill is utter shite, you know it and every other person who's concerned about climate change knows it as well.

            • Ad 7.1.1.1.1.1

              I respect them because they are an effective part of the government. Which indeed is led by Labour.

            • Psycho Milt 7.1.1.1.1.2

              This carbon bill is utter shite, you know it and every other person who's concerned about climate change knows it as well.

              It's nowhere near what the Greens would like the government to have introduced, no. However, that's not surprising when you consider the Greens' share of the vote, and the fact that their government's coalition includes an anti-environmentalist party. They were never going to get the bill they wanted, so the real question is, given the difficulty in getting NZF to agree to any environmentalist legislation whatsoever, how well have they done? Hmmm. Fucking, that's how well.

              Anyway, you're being disingenuous. What legislation would any National-led government pass to lower our emissions? The last one had an environmental policy of increased fossil fuel extraction, intensification of farming and running an ETS scam using fake east European carbon credits, so absolutely anything whatsoever this government does re the environment will be streets ahead of its main competitor.

            • Wayne 7.1.1.1.1.3

              BM

              That is a very below par statement by you.

              I think the bill is very credible in terms of setting the goals. And even if National is reserving its position now, they will ultimately sign up to it. Basically a bill like this effectively gets entrenched. Even if a party votes against it, they find when they get into government they can't practically change it. Not unless they are led by a Trump like figure.

              Of course having goals is not the same as having action. So the government is going to have to come up with practical action.

              What will they do about electric cars, which I write about in the Spinoff? Will the ETS be strengthened so the price signals around moving industry toward climate change technologies are clearer? Will there be incentives for homeowners to install solar cells? Will the government partner with farmers to get wider stream margins?

              • millsy

                Electric car use will not increase until a Henry Ford-like disruptive figure comes and sells EV's at a fraction of a price of Teslas, Priuses and Leafs.

          • Pat 7.1.1.1.2

            quarter of a billion tonnes of carbon later….

        • Psycho Milt 7.1.1.2

          James and the Greens could bring the government down at any point…

          To what purpose? Shits and giggles?

    • Pat 7.2

      his time (and target) compromises have achieved nothing….despite the compromises and delays National still do not support the Bill….wasted opportunity and more importantly time,…Norman spotted it months ago.

    • patricia bremner 7.3

      Yes well done James, though we are fearful it will not be enough.

  8. gsays 8

    I see a need for an effective narrative demonstrating 'this is what leadership looks like' and negating 'we are a small contributor to global warming'.

    • Robert Guyton 8.1

      Each of us is "a small contributor to global warming".

      Those wishing to follow can smell a leader from a mile away.

  9. Exkiwiforces 9

    Well the way I see it, is that old Jandals and co must be doing something right when you have both the farmers and Greenpeace complaining about the bill. For me it’s a step in the right direction while the some may not like it all, it’s a different story over here in Oz atm as the pollies are doing SFA about.

  10. Stuart Munro. 10

    No sign of the speed up every real indicator is telling us events require in response to the coming challenges. It's like we have a government led by some horrific mutant lovechild of Stan Rodger and Gerry Brownlee.

  11. Koff 11

    The Bill, despite misgivings over the response to methane not being tough enough and lack of accountability, is about as good as you expect the Coalition to come up with. Have to say that I feel the planet;s present trajectory is a bit like the feeling on the Titanic when they realised the ship was bearing down on the iceberg – too little action, too late, with most of the world's population still dancing away in the ballroom, or below decks, oblivious to what is about to happen.

  12. Jenny - How to get there? 12

    The dead rubber chicken bounce. Though it is definitely bouncy it is hard to describe something that was never alive to begin with, as 'dead'

    Greenpeace Director Russel Norman declares this rubber chicken to be "toothless".

    https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/388789/government-s-zero-carbon-bill-already-facing-heavy-criticism

    No surprise there, action on climate change is as rare as hens teeth in a rubber chicken

  13. marty mars 13

    This is important and is being ignored.

    Mr Smith said Māori not only need to be consulted but be determining policy around climate change.

    "We want our views not only to be consulted, but we want our views to be implemented and when it comes to things like climate change and environmental degradation if this society had been built on the tikanga of our tupuna we wouldn't be in the mess that we are in now. So for very practical reasons that Māori viewpoints are taken into account."

    https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/te-manu-korihi/388797/maori-seek-direct-input-into-govt-s-climate-change-policy

  14. millsy 14

    What we really need is a Think Big v2.0. Legislating a few targets isnt really going to do things.

    We are going to have to have the government doing and owning stuff for this all to work. It might be un-PC to some people, but that's the way it is.

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