As a response to the growing concern about the impact of climate change on New Zealand, and in order to give effect to our commitments under the Paris agreement of 2015, the Government has drafted the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon)Bill. This article attempts to assess the C.C.R. Bill.
The Bill of Parliament is broken into the following parts:
- Part 1A focuses on the establishment of the Climate Change Commission, its powers/functions/duties, composition and so forth
- Part 1B focuses on the establishment of the emission reduction targets, the emission budgets and the processes for establishing these budgets, as well as the role of the Commission and the monitoring of the targets
- Part 1C focuses on adaptation to climate change
- Part 2 examines consequential amendments
There are good parts in this Bill of Parliament. They include provision for:
- A Climate Change Commission that will include a range of figures from scientists to people in the business community, as well as those familiar with local government and planning processes
- Reducing emissions that are not biogenic methane to net zero by 2050; reduce biogenic methane by 24-47% by 2050 and by 10% or more by 2030
- A sequence of emissions budgets that act as stepping stones towards the above targets
- Require the Government to develop policies for adaptation and mitigation
There is however significant room for improvement. There does not appear to be any mention of providing for more immediate as well as intermediate steps that do not need substantial policy development and which are already known to work. The lack of urgency around these has been a cause of concern among environmentalists and the Green Party, but are also potentially likely to have useful social outcomes such as improved energy budgets. I have covered all of these concerns in previous articles.
This will need a comprehensive roll out so that all agencies are aware of their obligations, but also the tools and resources at their disposal. One of the biggest problems across policy making in New Zealand and probably true of the world is the number of agencies that do not communicate and whose awareness of where they fit into the larger framework of policy is not new. For policy to be effectively given effect to, this must improve.
I expect that this Bill of Parliament will run into significant resistance when it returns following the closure of submissions. A.C.T. will oppose it point blank. National will want business concessions and be concerned about the impact on the economy and tax payers, some of which might be granted, but not all. New Zealand First as a coalition partner will likely support it, but have significant concerns about the impact on rural communities. Labour and the Greens will support, but will differ over the extent to which they should move, which might cause tensions inside the coalition.
Businesses will have concerns, and some of them will be quite valid. Others will be more about protecting sectors that are considered to be sunset industries, because in a world adapting to climate change they will probably be phased out. As adaptation is the name of the game, technological and procedural innovation are likely to feature strongly in any attempt at staying relevant.