Spotlight on New Zealand: Responses to Governments INDC

On 7 July, Minister for the Environment Tim Groser announced New Zealand’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution the global climate deal in Paris this December.

New Zealand commits to reduce GHG emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030,  a target which corresponds to a reduction of 11% from 1990 levels.

Consultation Process

In May, the New Zealand Government undertook a public consultation process including publication of a discussion document, public meetings, hui and an invitation to make submissions.  Over 17,000 written submissions were received from more than 15,600 submitters – 97 of these were through this website; which called for a 40% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. Once again, we would like to thank those who got behind our submission.

summary of the consultation responses can be read here. While the Governments INDC acknowledged the consultation process, it did not mention that 99% of submitting parties in NZ – including scientists, businesses, academics, and interest groups – asked for at least 40% reduction; nor that the majority voiced a strong criticism about the consultation process itself.


While the Government acknowledged that it “must contribute to the extent its circumstances permit”, it justified its target because the “cost to the New Zealand economy of meeting the 2030 target in terms of GDP is greater than that implied by other Parties’ tabled targets”, due to factors such as “already achieving a high level of renewable electricity generation” and “half of New Zealand’s emissions originating from agriculture.” Furthermore, New Zealand is responsible for low levels of emissions,  with only 0.15 percent of global emissions in 2012.


Despite this justification, the Governments commitment has been met with considerable criticism. Internationally, it has been labelled “inadequate” by Climate Action Tracker. Back home, leading academics have labeled the claim that New Zealand can do little more in the renewable energy sector to cut emissions as “simply untrue.”  Dr James Renwick, a lead author for the IPCC, says that if the globe were to cut only emissions at the rate that New Zealand proposed, it would lead to at least 3 degrees of warming by the end of the century – a path which would see oceans acidifying, coral reefs dissolving, sea levels rising rapidly, and more than 40% species extinction.

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