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Decisions on emissions

HE Pou a Rangi, the Climate Change Commission (CCC), delivered their final advice to the Government at the end of May, and now the Government must release its first emissions reduction plan by the end of the year.

The advice outlines how Aotearoa can reach the climate target set by Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw.

CCC chairperson Dr Rod Carr said the Commission met its obligations under the Climate Change Response Act in delivering the advice.

“We are even more convinced there are achievable, affordable and acceptable ways to meet our emissions targets. Now is the time for accelerating action.

“It is up to the Government to consider the advice and then set the emissions budgets and emissions reduction plan Aotearoa will use to achieve them.”

Dr Carr said the feedback from the public during the Commission's consultation period fed into the Commission's evidence base and helped test and shape the final advice.

“We have valued the engagement of so many New Zealanders during consultation. Our final advice has been updated to reflect new evidence we have received and our judgements influenced by what we have heard.”

Gisborne District Council is still reviewing the advice provided by the CCC but notes that actions by local councils will be crucial in enabling Aotearoa to reduce its emissions, GDC chief of strategy and science Joanna Noble said.

“The report recognises that significant support will be required from central government and councils to achieve those goals.

“We support this view and we support the view of achieving an equitable transition for iwi/Maori.”

Trust Tairawhiti, Gisborne's community trust, submitted to the CCC's draft report in March.

A business community workshop informed the submission. The almost unanimous feedback from the workshop was that the CCC's draft budgets were not ambitious enough.

“Our submission advised that the draft budgets did not align with the science — namely that we need to halve global emissions by 2030,” Trust Tairawhiti chief executive officer Gavin Murphy said.

“The final budgets remain inadequate. New Zealand will not be doing enough from a global equity perspective.”

“That said, the Trust supports the overall direction of the final CCC report, if not the required pace of change, and is committed to playing its part in supporting the Tairawhiti climate change response.

“Our submission welcomed opportunities for our region to be an innovation test-bed for climate solutions that can feed into national policy, particularly if that innovation is focused on ensuring our region's decarbonisation journey is equitable,” Mr Murphy said.

Climate leadership has been identified in Trust Tairawhiti's strategic plan, Te aka rautaki ki te tau 2026, as a strategic priority.

“Our top four climate priorities for this financial year are to work with Eastland Group to meet our joint emissions reduction targets — 21 percent reduction in emissions by 2024 from the 2019 baseline (Climate Leaders Coalition); build climate considerations more clearly into our funding and decision-making processes;​ support businesses and communities to take climate action; and partner with GDC, iwi and our communities to prepare a Regional ‘Just Transition' Emissions Reduction Plan.

“We are currently promoting the Sustainable Business Network's online climate action toolbox as well as undertaking research and engagement on the potential impacts of permanent carbon farming in Tairawhiti,” Mr Murphy said.

“The Trust remains committed to supporting the conversations the region needs to have about the climate crisis.”

The CCC has a timeline it must follow.

The Minister for Climate Change tabled the advice in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, June 9.

Once the advice is tabled the Commission will publish the advice on its website along with supporting information.

Further information including submissions and the source code for its models will be published throughout July.

By December 31, the Government must have set the first three emissions budgets out to 2035 and released its first emissions reduction plan.

If it chooses not to accept the CCC's advice, it must publish an alternative plan for addressing climate change in Aotearoa and reaching its targets.

From next year the Commission will begin monitoring how the Government's emissions reduction plan is implemented, including how well Aotearoa is tracking to meet the 2050 net zero target.

VOICES FOR THE FUTURE: Gisborne school students earlier this year took to the streets to make the Government and associated agencies listen to their calls for transformative action to save the climate. Did the Climate Change Commission listen to their calls?Picture by Rebecca Grunwell
Trust Tairawhiti CEO Gavin Murphy