New Zealand commits to 50% emissions cut by 2050
Climate Change Minister Nick Smith said: "Setting a long-term target provides long-term certainty about where domestic climate change policy is headed so we can plan and invest accordingly. The target is being gazetted today under the Climate Change Response Act 2002 and delivers upon National's 2008 election promise."
Speaking at the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute Forum in Wellington, Dr Smith said feedback from a recent public consultation supported setting a long-term emissions reduction target.
"A wide variety of submissions were received - from those who expressed skepticism about climate change, to those who wanted a much stronger target," Dr Smith said. "We believe a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050, or -50 by 50, strikes the right balance. It has New Zealand doing our fair share and is comparable with the targets set by our major trading partners.
"Halving New Zealand's emissions is going to require major changes in economy over the next 40 years. The Government's existing program includes the emissions trading scheme, support for home insulation, solar water heating systems, biofuels, electric cars and electrification of Auckland rail, and major research initiatives such as the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research. The Advisory Group on Green Growth established in January is about identifying the additional programs to help achieve the reductions.
Dr Smith said that the target would be reviewed in light of future technological advances, but this was not enough for the country's Green Party, which branded the proposals "unambitious".
"It is simply green-washing to tell us they have a target to reduce greenhouse emissions in the distant future when their actions in the present increase emissions," said party co-leader Russel Norman told reporters.
He criticized government plans to build new motorways, subsidize irrigation to expand industrial dairy farming and its perceived focus on mining and drilling.
"If they were serious about a target they would set milestones that they could be held accountable for, not a target that is 13 electoral cycles away," Norman said.