The 1 per cent figure came from an article published by NZ outlet Newsroom, which the activist shared with her 4.4 million followers.

The story pointed out that the government’s promise to make the public service carbon-neutral by 2025 appeared to cover only about 1 per cent of the country’s emissions — that generated by the government’s own use of energy and transport.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg attends a Fridays For Future protest outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm in October.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg attends a Fridays For Future protest outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm in October.Credit:TT/AP

The carbon-neutral public service announcement was made at the same time as the government’s declaration of a climate emergency, in a bid to back up the declaration with action.

At the time, Climate Change Minister James Shaw told NZ outlet Stuff the plan would target a much bigger proportion of emissions: 7 per cent. However, crucial details of the plan appear to still being finalised, including how much it will directly reduce emissions from state housing, schools and hospitals. As of September, a Stuff inquiry found only eight of 46 central government agencies knew how much carbon they were emitting.

It is not clear whether Thunberg thought a 1 per cent reduction was the only emissions-cutting action New Zealand was taking, however the tweet caused a stir, with Shaw saying the government was working as quickly as possible and pointing to the carbon-cutting legal frameworks the Labour-NZ First coalition passed in its previous term.

Ardern responded to Thunberg’s comments by saying New Zealand had bigger goals than that one target.

“If that was the sum ambition of any government, then that would be worthy of criticism; it is not our sum ambition and it is not the totality of our plans on climate change,” she said.

“But again, I think that it is actually for us just to get on with the business of fulfilling our obligations and expectations.”

The government does have other policies in place, including the One Billion Trees program, a cap on emissions, a fund to replace businesses’ coal boilers, and plans to boost renewable electricity to 100 per cent by 2030.

However, nothing announced so far would shrink emissions enough by 2030 to help the world stay under 1.5 degrees heating, which is the goal of both Thunberg’s movement and the government’s own Zero Carbon Act.

Loading

For example, the current cap on how many emissions units are allowed to be auctioned under the Emissions Trading Scheme would lower the country’s greenhouse gas output by only about 3 per cent next year, below business-as-usual (or what officials estimate would have happened without the new cap). By 2025, the reduction from the ETS reforms alone will be just 5 per cent a year.

Those are only provisional numbers and they are likely to be superseded as soon as the Climate Change Commission comes in with its carbon-cutting recommendations next year.

The government has punted the tough job of setting a series of rapidly falling emissions targets to the commission and its independent analysts. The first few recommended budgets will be out in draft form in February, along with the commission’s recommendations for broad policy moves by the government to get there.

Loading

By December next year, New Zealand will have said yes or no to the commission’s recommendations and the state of its climate ambitions for the 2020s will be clearer.

Meanwhile, the government has not made deep moves towards cutting transport, agriculture or industrial emissions that might get the country moving faster ahead of the commission’s reports – although Labour’s plan to boost the supply of renewable electricity should help move private cars and some industries away from burning fossil fuels. Likewise, requiring the public sector to buy electric vehicles could help shift the second-hand car market towards cleaner vehicles, though EV advocates say much more is needed. Clean transport advocates are also calling for a radical boost to public transport and cycling and walking investment.

Without significant cuts to our sources of emissions, NZ’s net balance of emissions will be higher in the 2020s than it is now, because of swings in the harvest cycle for pine trees.

The government did not put forward an ambitious pledge to announce at an international summit on Saturday, celebrating five years since the Paris Agreement began, meaning like Australia, New Zealand did not get a speaking slot. Instead, it opted to wait for the commission’s reports next year.

Stuff

Most Viewed in World

Loading



Source link

Categories: Daily Updates

0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *