About New Zealand’s emissions reduction targets

This page has an overview of our greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets.

We have three current greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets:

  • a 2020 target to reduce emissions to 5 per cent below 1990 levels
  • a 2030 target to reduce emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels
  • a 2050 target to reduce emissions to 50 per cent below 1990 levels.

In 2015 New Zealand met a previous target under the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012 by submitting its “True-up Report” to the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

2020 target

In 2013, the Government announced an unconditional target to reach 5 per cent below our 1990 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2020. This is our current target as it covers the years from 2013 until 2020.

Although New Zealand chose to take its 2020 target under the UNFCCC rather than the Kyoto Protocol, we are applying the Kyoto Protocol rules in our emissions accounting to ensure transparency.

We report progress towards the 2020 target in the net position report. New Zealand is on track to meet this target.

New Zealand also has a conditional 2020 target. This target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to between 10 per cent and 20 per cent below 1990 greenhouse gas emissions on the condition that there is a comprehensive global agreement.

2030 target

This target is our commitment to the Paris Agreement which aims to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 to 2°C above pre-industrial levels in this century.

New Zealand’s target under the Paris Agreement is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This target is equivalent to 11 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Our target is expressed against 2005 emission levels. This is similar to what some of our trading partners have done. We have provided the 1990 equivalent for ease of comparison with previous targets. Our target covers the period of 2021-2030.

Find out more about the Paris Agreement

2050 target

A credible long-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction target is an important part of ensuring that New Zealand can make a smooth transition to a low-emissions future.

The current 2050 target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. This was notified in the New Zealand Gazette in March 2011.

The 2050 target is based on gross greenhouse gas emissions in 1990 but will take into account any removals or emissions arising from afforestation or deforestation. This is consistent with the rules of the Kyoto Protocol under the UNFCCC. The Government has consulted on a new 2050 target as part of the Zero Carbon Bill. A new 2050 target would bring New Zealand more in line with the global ambition set under the Paris Agreement.

For more information on the Zero Carbon Bill, see the New Zealand climate change programme web page.