13 May 2007
NEWS: Climate Change Target - 50 by 50
National Party Leader John Key says his party willl set a target of a 50% reduction in carbon equivalent net emissions, as compared to 1990 levels, by 2050. In shorthand: A 50% cut by 2050. 50 by 50.
"National's '50 by 50' target will send a clear message to the world: New Zealand means business on climate change. This target is comparable with targets being set by other developed nations and it makes sense for New Zealand's agriculture-intensive economy.
"We are a fair-minded people and we're rightly proud that our country is a responsible international citizen. Tackling climate change requires global action, and New Zealand should stand up and be counted in the battle."
Mr Key used his National Party Northern Region Conference speech to spell out more of National's thinking on global warming.
"National will not pull out of the Kyoto Protocol; we are committed to honouring our international obligations. But I think Labour has been irresponsible in the extreme by failing to prepare New Zealand for the protocol's binding requirements.
"National will do much better at reducing New Zealand's emissions than Labour has done. As a starting point we think New Zealand needs a credible emission reduction target to strive for. A 'carbon neutral' goal with no timeline just won't cut it."
"National is committed to growing our economy. We see confronting climate change as a vital part of the policy mix for fuelling that growth."
Mr Key says climate-change awareness will create new markets for Kiwi industries, tourism, and technology. It's estimated that demand for low-carbon products will be worth at least $500 billion per year by 2050. Countries and consumers will be crying out for climate-friendly products and innovations.
"History has proven New Zealand to be capable of huge determination in the face of global challenges; under National we will be determined again.
"I have faith in New Zealanders. I have faith that every single one of you values our environment and is prepared to act to preserve it. It is in our interest and it is in our nature. I know we can rely on Kiwis to do their fair share."
Climate Change Target Overview & Backgrounder
National Party Climate Change Target
A 50% reduction in in carbon equivalent net emissions as compared to 1990 levels by 2050. In shorthand: A 50% cut by 2050 – "50 by 50".
Measures to achieve this include:
1. 'Cap and Trade' Permit System. We will introduce a comprehensive 'cap and trade' emission permit system to manage greenhouse gas emissions. This system will encourage cost-effective emission reduction across the economy.
2. Fast-track Renewable Energy Projects. We will make it easier to invest in renewable energy by reforming the Resource Management Act. We think it's ridiculous that Labour is allowing sensible green wind-farm and hydro developments to be caught up in red tape while Government-owned power stations burn more coal and gas than ever before.
3. Forestry Incentives. We will encourage tree planting. Labour's war with the forestry sector has led to a chainsaw massacre of trees. We will incentivise more planting and less cutting by giving some carbon credits to the foresters who plant the trees in the first place.
4. Boost Research and Development. We will boost research and development, especially in agriculture. No other country has as much a vested interest in solving the problem of methane emissions as New Zealand does. Agricultural technology, especially in ruminant microbiology, has the most exciting potential for big climate-change gains, both economic and atmospheric. We already corner the world market for science skills in this area, but even so, we have fewer than 25 scientists working in the ruminant microbiology field. National will up the ante.
5. Global Action and Trans-Tasman Co-operation. We will honour our Kyoto obligations while steadfastly working for additional and future global alliances. We believe a strong New Zealand voice on climate change is vital to the "brand" our exporters rely on, and can be a key force for rallying the global troops. We will particularly pursue trans-Tasman solutions and co-operation. National sees trading advantages in a trans-Tasman carbon market and in co-operation with Australia on research, development and technology.
6. Empowering Consumers. We will give Kiwis incentives to make climate-friendly choices. Whether it's catching a bus or buying an energy-efficient appliance, every individual can make a contribution to reducing New Zealand's emissions. Government has a role to play in ensuring Kiwis have access to the infrastructure, clear information and meaningful incentives that encourage the most climate-friendly behaviour.
National Party Climate Change Target
How does this target compare with targets in other developed countries?
Developed countries are opting for clear, measurable and time-bound emission-reduction targets.
- Australia's opposition party supports a 60% reduction by 2050, as compared to 2000 emissions levels. This target is comparable with National's "50 by 50" target because our target is relative to 1990 emissions levels.
- The United Kingdom is setting a binding target of a 60% cut in emissions by 2050.
- The European Union aims to cut emissions by 20% by 2020.
- Various states in America have devised targets, with the Republican Californian Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, committed to a target of 80% reduction by 2050.
- Norway has committed to a goal for 'carbon neutrality', which they hope to achieve by 2050, but which is not legally binding. Norway is one of the world's major oil exporters.
What is the scientific basis of this target?
Evidence suggests global greenhouse gas emissions need to be within the range of 450-55O parts per million to stabilise climate change.
The Stern Report indicates that in order to reach that target, global greenhouse gas emissions would have to drop by 25% by 2050. The report suggests that, in general, rich countries need to take responsibility for reducing emission by 60-80% by 2050, as compared to 1990 emissions levels. However, it notes that each country's reduction target needs to take account of a number of factors, including wealth, historic emissions and the nature of emissions.
New Zealand's emissions are significantly less per person than those of Australia, the United States and Canada. National believes the "50 by 50" target is New Zealand's fair contribution to avoiding dangerous climate change, taking into account our already high level of renewable energy and the difficulty of reducing agricultural emissions.
Why has National chosen 1990 as the baseline for its target?
1990 is the baseline agreed to in the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and is the international standard for comparing emissions. Most targets set internationally have been relative to this baseline, including those in the Kyoto Protocol
Will National pull out of the Kyoto Protocol?
No. We are committed to fulfilling New Zealand's commitments as a responsible global citizen. In an increasingly carbon-conscious world the implications of withdrawing would be damaging to our key export industries.
Why is a target needed in addition to our Kyoto Protocol commitments?
Developed countries are devising time-bound emission-reduction targets for the post-Kyoto period. In this context, New Zealand needs to make a definitive and credible statement about our intended long-term contribution to the battle against climate change.
In addition, the government needs to give Kiwi taxpayers, businesses, industries and farmers a clear signal about where climate-change policy is headed in the long-run so they can plan and invest accordingly.
National understands that to make good decisions investors need early and clear warning of what emissions levels future governments will allow.
National's "50 by 50" target meets three key tests: It is internationally credible, it is suitable to New Zealand's unique economic profile, and it is time-bound.
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