No 50% Cut In NZ’s Emissions – They Will Raise Say Greens

The Green Party has accused the NZ government of fudging the figures for greenhouse gas emissions. They say that the 2050 emissions reduction target is “on the basis of net emissions in the future, relative to gross emissions in 1990”.

The result being that emissions will not be cut by 50% by 2050 but will rise slightly.

Govt’s target will actually increase emissions
Thursday, 10 February 2011, 9:58 am
Press Release: Green Party

10 February 2011

The Government is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the New Zealand public about plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, revealed the Green Party today.

“Minister for Climate Change Issues Nick Smith is being a bit too tricky when he claims the Government plans to halve emissions by 2050,” Green Party Co-leader and Climate Change spokesperson Dr Russel Norman said.

“It’s just an accounting trick. The Government’s actual target is for our net greenhouse gas emissions to increase slightly from 1990 to 2050.

New Zealand’s net emissions in 1990 were 29 million tonnes CO2 equivalent (CO2e). Dr Norman said that National’s net emissions target for 2050 was 30 million tonnes CO2e.

“They try to pretend that this is a reduction by comparing the gross figure in 1990 with the net figure in 2050.”

The Minister’s Position Paper, recently released for consultation by the Ministry for the Environment, states that the 2050 emissions reduction target is “on the basis of net emissions in the future, relative to gross emissions in 1990”.

New Zealand’s gross emissions in 1990 were over 60 million tonnes C02e, but net emissions, accounting for forestry and land use sinks, were only 29 million tonnes.

“If you compare like with like, by comparing the net emissions in 1990 with the net emissions in 2050, there is actually a small increase,” said Dr Norman.

“The Government does not plan to cut emissions at all by 2050, yet they mislead the public, who understandably expect a 50 percent cut in emissions to be a significant reduction.

“If the rest of the world takes this disingenuous approach to reducing carbon emissions, we have no chance of averting dangerous climate change.

“Nick Smith needs to come clean to New Zealanders.

“The Government’s agenda is really just business as usual: a carbon-intensive economy, a hotter climate, and damage to our reputation as clean, green and honest,” said Dr Norman.

Link to overseas analysis:

Link to Minister’s Position Paper that states the target is net emissions relative to 1990 gross emissions:
[Scoop copy (PDF): gazettingnz2050emissionstarget.pdf]

Link to New Zealand’s Green House Gas Inventory 1990-2008 (see Table ES.4.1.1 New Zealand’s emissions by sector in 1990 and 2008) or Table below):


At one time it was estimated that New Zealands failure to cut greenhouse gas emissions could cost the country a Kyoto liability of between $1-5 billion.

The authors of The Carbon Challenge (Victoria University researcher and economist Geoff Bertram and climate-change analyst and researcher Simon Terry) described the Government’s current ETS as “technically obsolete” and “beyond rescue” as a sustainable framework for tackling climate change.

They say the scheme will not make any inroads into cutting New Zealand’s gross emissions levels:

“There is complacency in New Zealand that credits for storing carbon in forestry crops will save the country from having to seriously address reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

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One thought on “No 50% Cut In NZ’s Emissions – They Will Raise Say Greens

  1. It surely will help this problem to have Kiwis fleeing in ever greater numbers to Oz.
    “The number of New Zealanders emigrating to Australia has reached a 12-month high, according to reports. Seasonally adjusted figures show 3000 people left New Zealand to live and work in Australia in March, Radio New Zealand reported on Friday. Statistics New Zealand said more than 30,000 New Zealanders had crossed the Tasman over the past 12 months and the numbers have been on the rise since October last year.”

    Very noticeable locally is the number of benefit recipients having their benefits removed by the Key government. Without jobs available, many of them are decamping across the Tasman.

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