Submissions on Zero Carbon Bill Released
The Ministry for the Environment has publically released the submissions received on the Zero Carbon Bill, following public consultation. The proposals for inclusion in the Bill, which were the subject of public consultation, related to New Zealand’s 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, emissions budgets, the establishment of a Climate Change Commission, the Government response to the Commission and adaptation functions.
The Ministry has provided a summary of the submissions and other consultation mechanisms. There were 15,009 submissions in total. They were made up of:
- 11,836 individuals
- 314 Business/industry groups
- 65 Non-government organisations
- Remaining submissions were made by schools, community groups, local government, Maori, universities, research institutes and government advisory bodies
Submissions came from a range of industry sectors including agriculture, forestry and other primary industries, energy, transport, manufacturing and healthcare.
The results for the submissions display a high level of public support for the Bill. The majority of submissions support the Government setting a 2050 target in legislation now.
Targets for 2050
The favoured target for New Zealand was net zero emissions across all greenhouse gases by 2050. With regards to how New Zealand should meet its targets the majority of submissions support achieving results by domestic emissions reductions only (including from new forest planting).
While there was majority support to allow this target to be revised, those who opposed this revision did so on the basis that there should not be an ability to reduce the target or make it less ambitious given the serious nature of climate change.
There was overall support for the establishment of three emissions budgets of five years each. However, there was little difference in the level of support and opposition with regards to whether the Government should be able to alter the emissions budgets. There were concerns that allowing the budgets to be altered may make them susceptible to political influence and create uncertainty.
Submitters supported the need for the Government to set plans in order to achieve these emissions budgets. The key reasons for this support were that timeframes and plans provide transparency and certainty for businesses. Further submissions identified that the most important issues for the Government to consider when setting such plans included consideration of social impacts on vulnerable groups, consultation, engagement and collaboration with communities, local government, tangata whenua and scientific researchers.
Climate Change Commission
The majority of submissions recommended that the role of the Climate Change Commission should be advisory and politically independent, with the democratically elected Government making the decisions. However, many submissions also highlighted the importance of having mechanisms to hold the Government to account.
The submissions supported the position that the Commission should have an advisory role in relation to the policy settings for the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme. The main reason given for this was that the Commission’s role should be to act as an independent watchdog with the policy and regulatory decisions made by the elected Government.
Climate Change Adaption
The majority of submissions agreed the Bill should include provisions to help New Zealand adapt to the effects of climate change. Submissions suggested emphasis should be on those people most exposed to these risks, for instance those living in coastal areas.
There was also support for the proposed functions to help New Zealand adapt to climate change. However, submitters expressed the nature of this was complex and it was unclear whether this should be the responsibility of the Government or the Commission.
In addition there was majority support for the establishment of a targeted adaptation reporting power that could see some organisations share information on their exposure to climate change risks. Although submitters emphasised that more information such as details of the roles and responsibilities and how this would be implemented were needed.
Overall there has been overwhelming public support for the Zero Carbon Bill. The Ministry is now taking these submissions into account to inform the policy advice for Ministers about how New Zealand should respond to climate change. It is likely that the Bill will be introduced into Parliament later this year with a Select Committee process planned for early next year.
There will be an additional opportunity for public involvement at the Select Committee stage.
For more details and to read the submissions please visit the Ministry for the Environment website.
Disclaimer: This is a brief summary for information purposes only and is not legal advice
Posted on Wednesday 10th October, 2018 at 10:33 am