On Tuesday evening, I hosted the launch in the Beehive Theatrette of a report which could prove to be a game-changer in the long and somewhat agonised saga that is New Zealand’s policy debate on climate.
Present for the launch were the Speaker of the House, the Deputy Prime Minister (who spoke), former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, and OCED Environment Director, Hon Simon Upton, among 140 others. Public launches are also being hosted by the Mayor of Christchurch and the Auckland Council.
The report, Net Zero in New Zealand: Scenarios to achieve domestic emissions neutrality in the second half of the century, was produced by Vivid Economics, a London-based consultancy that has internationally-recognised expertise on the subject.
The report was commissioned by GLOBE-NZ, with funding support from foundations, individuals, companies, embassies and individual MPs. GLOBE-NZ is a cross-party group of members of the NZ Parliament of which I am chair.
What the report says
The report identifies four scenarios for achieving emissions neutrality. One, ‘Off-Track NZ’, would see neutrality achieved well into the 22nd century. As such, it would not meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement which calls for global net emissions to be zero before 2100 in order to limit temperature increase to below 2ᴼC.
Two scenarios, ‘Resourceful NZ’ and ‘Innovative NZ’, meet the requirement of neutrality not long after 2050, through innovative technology resulting in considerable reductions in energy emissions, far-reaching forestry programmes and significant change in land-use patterns.
A fourth scenario, ‘Net Zero 2050’, is envisaged though not explored in analytical detail. The report states that this scenario is possible, albeit far-reaching and ambitious.
Put simply, this is groundbreaking. The main significance of the Vivid project is that it was conceived and commissioned, and is now owned, by a cross-party group of MPs. GLOBE-NZ, established in October 2015, now has a membership of 35 MPs drawn from all seven political parties in Parliament. It is developing a cross-party dialogue on climate policy, receiving briefings from international and local experts.
The breakthrough here is that the group now owns a shared report on emissions reductions that it can debate with greater clarity than ever before. Parliament has in fact decided to hold a debate in April, focused specifically on the report. That, too, is unprecedented.
Tune in, for the April debate.