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New Zealand’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) And Emissions Budgets Need Urgent Review

Our current Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), made under the Paris Agreement, is far weaker than international agencies say is needed for New Zealand to do its fair share in limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Also, while there is an extremely urgent need for action to protect the climate, our net emissions have actually risen by around 34% since 1990, and are still not showing any clear signs of starting to fall.

This is why, with the COP26 conference starting in Glasgow on 31 October, Engineers for Social Responsibility Inc (ESR) have contacted the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, and the Prime Minister, making a very strong case for New Zealand to present a revised NDC at that conference, and to start taking far more effective action to reduce our emissions.

While not clearly stated, the undertaking in our current NDC, to reduce our emissions by 30% over the 2005-2030 period, is based on a comparison of gross emissions in the base year with net emissions in the target year. On a consistent net-net basis it is actually an undertaking to increase our net emissions by approximately 1% over this period. Far more rapid action is required. For example, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says that global greenhouse gas emissions need to fall by 45% over the 2020-2030 period.

Based on the available information, the budget figures for emissions reductions given in the final report of the newly appointed Climate Commission are also well below what international bodies say is required by 2030 to avoid catastrophic climate change. These budget figures should therefore definitely not be used as a guide for what we should be aiming for in our revised NDC.

We need a much stronger NDC and much faster action. For example, Climate Action Tracker rates our response so far as “critically insufficient”. It says that we need to aim to reduce our gross emissions by at least 44% below 2005 levels by 2030, and as a developed country with the necessary skills and resources preferably up towards 70% over this period. ESR is therefore recommending that our NDC be based on achieving these reductions by 2030.

A copy of the documents covering the above, that have now been sent to the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, to the Prime Minister, and to several other MPs, are attached.



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