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Council Questions Overreliance On ETS To Meet Reduction Targets

Waikato Regional Council has questioned overreliance on the Emissions Trading Scheme to meet reduction targets in its submission on the national emissions reduction plan (ERP) discussion document (Te hau mārohi ki anamata: Transitioning to a low-emissions and climate-resilient future).

Strategy and Policy Committee chair Pamela Storey said there was a notable absence of ideas should the country fail to meet its targets.

“There needs to be investment in some forward-thinking strategies rather than spending money offshore to buy carbon credits.

“We need to ramp up investment in the innovation space. Wind, solar and batteries should be considered as part of BAU, not something that is innovative.

“There are many ways for New Zealand to reduce its carbon footprint locally rather than buying overseas units from countries which have exceeded their reduction efforts.”

Cr Storey said the council’s submission advocated for unconventional sinks, such as coastal seagrass beds, wetlands and riparian planting, to be looked at to offset our country’s emissions, and spatial planning as a key tool to influence land use change.

“Ensuring urban growth is well planned to reduce sprawl will make it easier to increase the effectiveness of measures to manage the risks to energy, building and construction, agriculture, waste, and forestry.”

The ERP is due to be published in May 2022 and will set out the policies and strategies that Aotearoa will take to meet the first emissions budget. New Zealand’s commitment is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. This target requires all greenhouse gases, other than biogenic methane, to reach net zero by 2050; and emissions of biogenic methane to reduce to at least 10 per cent below 2017 levels by 2030, and to at least 24–47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050.

The council generally supported the guiding principles outlined in the discussion document to meet the targets but said there should be scope to revise them as more information became available.

“We need to avoid the reliance on monoculture exotic forests and support the planting of native trees for water quality, biodiversity and climate benefits.

“We also need clarity in the roles and responsibilities between local and central government, particularly with regards to the funding of mandates,” said Cr Storey. “Who pays? A disproportionate amount should not land on the ratepayer.

“Of critical importance is the right support has to be wrapped around those who are being asked to make the biggest change.”

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