New Zealand yesterday put forward a raft of carbon-cutting plans, ranging from reduced vehicle usage to making e-bikes more accessible to meet its target of becoming carbon-emission free by 2050.
The proposals — which come ahead of the COP26 climate meeting of world leaders in Glasgow, Scotland, at the end of this month and are a forerunner to the New Zealand government’s emissions reduction plan expected in May next year — drew immediate criticism.
New Zealand is under pressure to do more to curb carbon emissions, which are increasing, but the discussion document made little mention of agriculture, which contributes 48 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions.
Environmental group Greenpeace said that the document was “full of meaningless waffle” that did little to broach the conversation on reducing agricultural emissions.
Climate advocacy Generation Zero called it a “disgrace” that failed to meet “unambitious emissions budgets, completely ignores agriculture — which makes up half of our emissions.”
However, New Zealand Minister for Climate Change James Shaw said that there was “an entire work program” dealing with the agricultural sector and “we didn’t want to waste people’s time by including things that have either already been consulted on or have other kind of engagement processes elsewhere.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the plans would reduce emissions, and “can also create jobs and new opportunities for Kiwi businesses and our economy.”
The document comes almost two years after New Zealand passed its Zero Carbon Act and a year after the government declared a climate emergency.
Ardern has previously described action on climate change as a matter of “life or death,” but has been called out by Swedish environmental advocate Greta Thunberg, who accused New Zealand of being “one of the world’s worst performers” on emission increases.
“People believe Jacinda Ardern and people like that are climate leaders,” Thunberg said last month. “That just tells you how little people know about the climate crisis. Obviously, the emissions haven’t fallen. It goes without saying that these people are not doing anything.”
Many of the initiatives mentioned in the discussion document are from a New Zealand Climate Change Commission report presented to the government earlier this year, including a 20 percent reduction in the use of vehicles by 2035.
In the same period, New Zealand wants to reduce emissions from transportation fuels by 15 percent, make public transportation cheaper and more accessible, and introduce incentives for those on low incomes to buy electric vehicles.
Other ideas include the development of low-emission fuels, such as bioenergy and hydrogen, eliminating the use of fossil gas, reducing food waste and encouraging composting.
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