New Zealand New Zealand

By dropping seven spots from the previous year’s CCPI, to 35th, New Zealand moves among the low-performing countries.

New Zealand continues to rate low in the GHG Emissions category and high in Renewable Energy. In the Energy Use category, however, the country improves to medium, while Climate Policy decreases to low.

New Zealand has adopted a legally binding net zero emissions target (excluding biogenic methane) for 2050, through its Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019, which experts evaluate as a strong policy. This amendment to the Act introduced no policies for cutting emissions, but instead set a framework. Nevertheless, appropriate measures to fully reach this 2050 goal are not in place. In particular, the biogenic methane emissions resulting from agriculture are addressed separately under the Act. The CCPI experts demand a more ambitious target for this sector to make a 1.5°C-compatible pathway possible, especially because agriculture accounts for about 48% of national GHG emissions (excluding land use, land use change, and forestry). Moreover, the already insufficient emissions targets lack implementation, and the country relies on reforestation to accomplish its goals. The country’s main instrument for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an emissions trading scheme. Experts criticise the price ceiling as unreasonably low and criticise the agriculture sector’s exclusion.

An existing pledge for 100% renewable electricity by 2035 is likely to be met. Experts, however, point out that reliance on coal for electricity generation has grown over recent years and the share of renewables has barely changed. This is due to a lack of policies to incentivise establishment of renewables. This can also be observed in the CCPI current trend indicator, where New Zealand receives a low rating. In a key development this year, environmental NGOs welcomed the Clean Car Discount programme the government announced in January 2021. If passed, this will consist of rebates and fees for new and used vehicles based on CO2 emissions ratings.

The experts additionally note that New Zealand should proactively support indigenous people’s rights in international and national climate policy.

The following national experts agreed to be mentioned as contributors for this year’s CCPI:  Amanda Larsson, Genevieve Toop (Greenpeace NZ);  WWF-NZ; David Tong (Oil Change International); Lawyers for Climate Action New Zealand Inc

Technical note: how to read the target comparison graph

The graph above shows the development of a country over the past years compared with its Paris compatible pathway and 2030 target. For all three quantitative categories of the CCPI, this visualisation gives an overview of where a country is right now, where it would need to be to fulfil the Paris Agreement promises and where it aims to be in 2030.

For GHG emissions per capita, the data includes LULUCF, as used for the emissions per capita indicator. This leads to the vast changes in emissions of some countries with high forest coverage.
The calculation of individual country target pathways is based on the common but differentiated convergence approach (CDC). It is based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” laid forth in the Framework Convention on Climate Change. All Annex I countries therefore have a decreasing pathway from 1990 onwards, starting at that year’s emissions. 60 years later, in 2050, these countries are expected to reach net zero emissions. All other countries, which did not reach the level of global average emissions in 1990, are allowed to increase emissions until the average is reached. But by latest 2015 these countries, too, have decreasing pathways and 60 years to reach net zero. These pathways start from the global average.

The Renewable Energy data is given in per cent of Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) and includes hydro energy, consistent with the respective CCPI indicator. As global distribution of Renewables (especially solar and wind) only started in the 2000s, the pathways in this category start in 2010. All countries have an equal goal: 100% Renewables in 2050, each starting from its 2010 value.

For Energy Use the Primary Energy Supply per capita is shown. All pathways for this category start at country’s 1990 values and meet at global average of 80 gigajoules per capita in TPES.
For 2°C and 1.5°C scenarios, a decrease in emissions by reducing the (growth in) energy use is as crucial as deploying renewable (or other low-carbon) technologies. The IPCC carried out a scenario comparison using a large number of integrated assessment models. From the scenarios available, we observe that the total amount of global energy use in 2050 has to be roughly the same level or a bit higher than it is today, with a margin of uncertainty. At the same time population will grow slightly between today and 2050. We therefore pragmatically chose the well-below-2° compatible benchmark to be “same energy use per capita in 2050 as the current global average”, which is 80 gigajoules per capita in TPES.