New Zealand ranks 34th in the current CCPI and stays among the low-performing countries.
The country receives mixed ratings over the four main CCPI categories: high in Renewable Energy, low in GHG Emissions and Climate Policy, and very low in Energy Use.
New Zealand’s Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019 required an Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) and emissions budgets. The first ERP, released in May 2022, set out vital actions across key sectors towards meeting New Zealand’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which contains an emissions reduction goal of 50% by 2030. The country’s first national reduction plan also presents strategies and policies for meeting annual emissions budgets.
Most of New Zealand’s electricity is generated from renewable sources
Although the CCPI country experts generally welcome the legislative framework, they find it rather ineffective and lacking detail. Big polluters receive free allocations in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS), while the agriculture sector is exempt from it, though (including methane and nitrogen dioxide [NO2]) the sector accounts for 50% of New Zealand’s overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The emissions reduction targets for biogenic methane under the Zero Carbon Act also lack ambition.
The experts are pushing for a cap on the number of dairy cows and a phase-out of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser that enables intensive dairy production.
In 2023, the government disrupted the NZ ETS by interfering with the price settings and undermining confidence in the market, going against independent Climate Change Commission advice. The experts demand reform of the NZ ETS policy settings to drive gross emissions reductions, remove free allocations, and install a robust regime for pricing agricultural emissions.
Most of New Zealand’s energy is supplied by fossil fuels, including 99% of transport energy, and around 60% of industrial energy. Yet most (80–85%) of New Zealand’s electricity is generated from renewable sources, which is promising for reducing future reliance on fossil fuels. This leads to the high rating in Renewable Energy, but it’s not in harmony with a complete fossil fuel phase-out.
Offshore oil and gas exploration ban is at risk
In 2018, New Zealand banned new offshore oil and gas exploration, but the ban is now at risk because the coalition parties elected in October 2023 all pledged to reopen exploration. Terrestrially onshore exploration also continues. The experts underscore the need for a cohesive phasing out of oil, gas, and coal, and a halting of new licenses. They also emphasise the need for further policy development to expedite the transition to full electrification.
Overall, the experts demand inclusion of agriculture in the NZ ETS, a full oil and gas ban, and forcing of large energy users (NZ Steel and Fonterra) to close their coal boilers and move to more efficient, low-carbon production by regulation, not via special public funding.
The following national experts agreed to be mentioned as contributors for this year’s CCPI: