On first reading this sentence in the briefing from Ministry for the Environment to the new Ministers for the Environment and for Climate Change I thought it mainly related to changing the Resource Management Act away from its current effects-based approach to more of an outcomes focus.
However, the advice recommends complementing regulatory changes with a strong emphasis on non-regulatory actions such as codes of practice, sharing of information, financial incentives and working alongside businesses, sectors or communities to achieve shared outcomes.
This upcoming report could be a really valuable input into NZ's future reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The purpose of the Biological Emissions Reference Group is "to collaboratively build a robust and agreed evidence base on the opportunities available now and in future to reduce biological greenhouse gas emissions (methane and nitrous oxide) in New Zealand’s primary industries, and what the costs, benefits, and barriers to doing so are."
I hope the upcoming report progresses these options for immediate action (listed in the ministerial briefing on page 13):
The quote above fits squarely into the 'easier said than done' category, but MfE guidance is now available for councils to take action at a local level. Debate is also happening on whether the upcoming Climate Commission will cover mitigation and adaptation, or just mitigation.
While the Environmental Defence Society welcomed the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's report on A Zero Carbon Act for New Zealand, Gary Taylor also made the following comments: “One issue that we find a little underwhelming is his open-ended attitude to adaptation. He agrees there’s a need for a national strategy but not sure who should do it.
“Given New Zealand’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change – increased floods, droughts, storm surges and other extreme weather events – we think that a national strategy is enormously important and should rest firmly with the proposed Commission."
Anyone who has worked for a large organisation will know how easy it is for different departments to get out of synch with each other, especially when dealing with complex issues such as climate change. Using a cross-agency approach to provide coordinated advice on meeting our greenhouse gas emission targets seems like an excellent way to manage this risk.
GLOBE-NZ is a cross-party group of 35 members of the New Zealand Parliament. This group commissioned a report (published in March 2017) on how New Zealand could achieve long-term low-emission pathways. Here's a link to the report summary.
The climate change declaration signed by 39 local government mayors and chairs offers support to the Government to develop an ambitious transition plan toward a low carbon and resilient New Zealand, while also committing to work with their communities to understand, prepare for and respond to the physical impacts of climate change. Clarity on who is doing what will be important to avoid duplication of effort, or gaps in our responses.
Here's a link to the declaration, which was updated in November 2017.
It's awesome that ministerial briefings are made publicly available in New Zealand. It will be interesting to see what proportion of our 2030 emissions target will be met by the three different components of planting trees, reducing domestic emissions and purchasing international emission reductions.
The Ministry for the Environment's briefing paper on climate change is available here.
These are the posts I have shared on social media, all in one place for easy access.