The government has announced its first three emissions budgets today, which sets out the total amount of emissions New Zealand must cut over the next 14 years. 

Emission budgets are the total amount of emissions Aotearoa will be allowed to release over a five-year timeframe. 

The emissions budgets are: 

  • Emissions budget 1 (2022–2025): 290 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases (72.4 megatonnes per year)
  • Emissions budget 2 (2026–2030): 305 megatonnes (averages 61 megatonnes per year) 
  • Emissions budget 3 (2031–2035): 240 megatonnes (48 megatonnes per year)

One tonne of CO2 equates to one car driving for half a year, according to overseas statistics

Climate Change Minister James Shaw, who made the announcement, said meeting the budgets would help create new industries and jobs, lower household energy bills, a more climate-friendly agriculture sector, warmer and drier homes, new technologies and the protection of native species and ecosystems. 

The first emissions budget average of 72.4 megatonnes per year equates to two megatonnes per year less than the five-year average leading up to this point (2017-2021), and 3.1 megatonnes less than projected emissions for 2022 to 2025. 

Emissions budget 2 averages out at 61 megatonnes per year. That equates to an average of 13.4 megattones per year -  nearly 20 percent below average annual emissions from 2017 to 2021.

Emissions budget 3 averages out at 48 megatonnes per year, which equates to an average of 26.4 megatonnes per year or about thirty-five per cent  less than the average annual emissions from 2017 to 2021. 

Aotearoa’s net-zero future is “closer than ever before”, Shaw said.

“There’s much more to do, but having these binding budgets in place is a critical part of our strategy to rapidly cut out the pollution that causes climate change.”

Shaw said the three emissions budgets announced today set out the total amount of emissions New Zealand must cut over the next 14 years. 

The Zero Carbon Act requires that emissions budgets are met just through action taken in New Zealand.

“In the last term of Government we passed legislation that enshrined in law a long-term target to reach net-zero by 2050. 

“To keep all future Governments on track towards meeting the net-zero goal, the Zero Carbon Act established a system of five-yearly emissions budgets that would act as stepping stones towards the 2050 target.”

Emissions Reduction plan to be released on May 16

The Emissions Reduction Plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across energy, transport, waste, agriculture, construction and financial services. 

Shaw said the plan will be released on May 16.

“The Emissions Reduction Plan will be a blueprint for a more equitable, more prosperous, and more innovative future – and all within planetary limits,” Shaw said.

Top Image: A power plant in Rotorua. (File photo) Photo: Getty Images

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