New Zealand’s climate change work programme - mitigation

This page has information on New Zealand's climate change mitigation work programme.

About the programme

New Zealand has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 (the 2030 target).  

Several work streams are looking at different aspects of how New Zealand meets the 2030 target and transitions to a low-emissions and resilient economy, including:

  • the low emissions economy transition hub
  • a Productivity Commission inquiry
  • New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) improvements 
  • the Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG)
  • the Forestry Reference Group
  • the international carbon markets project. 

The outcomes of this ongoing work are expected to feed into New Zealand’s policies to help meet our climate change targets, including NZ ETS settings and other measures.  

The diagram below outlines how these work streams relate to each other and are expected to proceed out to late 2018. 

For government agencies with responsibilities for climate change see Roles and responsibilities for climate change.

Timeline for climate change work programme 2017-18

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Low Emissions Economy Transition Hub

Budget 2017 provided $4 million in funding and mandated work across government to provide costed, tested and modelled policy options for meeting New Zealand’s emission reduction targets under the Paris Agreement. This work will be undertaken by bringing Natural Resources Sector agencies together in a low emissions economy transition hub. 

The transition hub will provide advice on the economic trade-offs that will be involved with meeting our 2030 target. This work will be informed by the recommendations made by the Productivity Commission. In broad terms this involves options on the balance of domestic emissions reductions, forestry, and international emissions reductions that will contribute towards meeting New Zealand’s 2030 target.

Productivity Commission Inquiry

The Productivity Commission is looking at how New Zealand can maximise the opportunities and minimise the costs and risks of transitioning to a lower net emissions economy.

The Commission will provide a final report and recommendations by 30 June 2018 on how New Zealand should manage a transition to a lower net emissions economy, while still maintaining and improving the incomes and prosperity of New Zealanders.

New Zealand Productivity Commission website

New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme

The NZ ETS is New Zealand’s key tool for reducing emissions and meeting our emission reduction targets. The settings of the NZ ETS need to reflect the Government’s decisions about how New Zealand should meet its targets.

The 2015/16 review of the NZ ETS recently concluded. The Government made an in-principle decision on a package of four proposals to improve the operation of the NZ ETS in the 2020s.

The proposals are to:

  • introduce auctioning of units, to align the NZ ETS to our climate change targets
  • limit participants’ use of international units when the NZ ETS reopens to international carbon markets
  • develop a different price ceiling to eventually replace the current $25 fixed price option
  • coordinate decisions on the supply settings in the NZ ETS over a rolling five-year period.

For more information about the NZ ETS in-principle decisions see In-principle decisions: further information.

Implementation and specific settings for these in-principle decisions will be informed by the work of the Low Emissions Economy Transition Hub on the balance of domestic emissions reductions, forestry, and international emissions reductions to meet New Zealand’s 2030 target. This balance will need to be reflected in the volume settings of the NZ ETS, including the number of units auctioned in the NZ ETS and the level of the limit on international units.

Biological Emissions Reference Group

The Biological Emissions Reference Group brings together a wide range of industry stakeholders to collaborate with Government and build a solid evidence base about biological emissions. This will ensure we have the best possible information on what can be done now by the sector to reduce biological greenhouse gas emissions, and the costs and opportunities of doing so. This evidence base will inform the work of the Low Emissions Economy Transition Hub.

Forestry Reference Group

Forestry is a major part of the economy and plays an important role in helping us meet our emission reduction targets. The Forestry Reference Group was established to test evidence, analysis and proposed changes to climate change forestry policy, in particular relating to the NZ ETS.

International carbon markets project

The international carbon markets project was established in 2016 to identify linking options, with a view to enabling New Zealand to source international emission reductions in the 2020s.

New Zealand is currently in discussions with a number of different countries about potential cooperation opportunities. Information can only be made available about these talks when those involved are comfortable doing so. 

Environmental integrity principles and rules are also being developed for any international emission reductions that may be used to help New Zealand meet its 2030 target. These would also apply to any international units that would be accepted into the NZ ETS. This environmental integrity work will involve working with both domestic and international stakeholders.