climate change

Climate Action Lawyers Disappointed with Climate Change Commission Final Advice

THE CLIMATE CHANGE COMMISSION’S RECOMMENDED BUDGETS FAIL TO MEET LEGAL REQUIREMENTS AND WOULD CONTRIBUTE TO GLOBAL WARMING EXCEEDING 1.5C

Lawyers for Climate Action NZ (LCANZI) is deeply disappointed that the Climate Change Commission’s final advice today recommends emissions budgets to 2030 which would see Aotearoa New Zealand’s emissions continuing at a level higher than is compatible with keeping global warming to 1.5C.

LCANZI has previously stated that it would consider bringing judicial review proceedings, if the final advice of the Climate Change Commission failed to comply with legal requirements. Having regard to the advice released today, we are still considering that option and will make a decision once we have had time to fully digest the final report.

Keeping warming to 1.5C is what science tells us is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It is also the agreed global goal under the Paris Agreement, and the purpose of the Climate Change Response Act.

The IPCC has reported that keeping warming to 1.5C requires global CO2 emissions to decline by around 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050, with deep reductions in other greenhouse gases.

LCANZI calculates that, applying the IPCC’s recommendations to NZ’s emissions means that our total emissions from 2021 to 2030 should be no higher than 485 Mt CO2e, before adjusting for our fair share, having regard to global equity.

The Climate Change Commission also applies the IPCC’s recommendations to work out what Aotearoa New Zealand’s commitment under the Paris Agreement should be, but its own calculation is much higher, at 568 Mt CO2e for the period from 2021 to 2030.

The main reason for the difference is that the Commission uses a gross emissions figure as the starting point (which does not take any account of CO2 absorbed by forestry) and a net emissions figure (which deducts removals from forestry) as the end point, whereas the IPCC’s recommended percentage reduction is based on using net figures as both the start and end point.

We have previously raised this issue with the Commission and remain strongly of the view their approach is unjustifiable and incompatible with the purpose of the Climate Change Response Act. It is like comparing apples with oranges and has the effect of obscuring our lack of progress to date and of making the Commission’s proposed figures appear more ambitious than they really are.

Moreover, the Commission’s budgets for domestic emissions to 2030 do not meet even their own calculation of what is consistent with 1.5C. The total for emissions for 2021-2030 allowed by the Commission’s proposed budgets is 648 Mt CO2e. The Commission recommends that Aotearoa New Zealand should use offshore mitigation to bridge the gap between our Paris commitment and our domestic emissions reductions. However, we consider that approach is inconsistent with the Act and with the Paris Agreement itself. It would leave Aotearoa New Zealand exposed to international criticism and to a high level of financial and political risk, due to uncertainty about the cost and availability of international credits.

LCANZI fully supports the objectives of the Climate Change Commission and supports all steps to reduce emissions. However, we cannot support the Commission’s proposed budgets as they are simply not enough to secure a safe future for our children.

The possibility of legal proceedings is not an impediment to implementation of steps to reduce emissions in the meantime and we strongly support all available measures being taken to do so.

Check out our submission on the draft advice here for further details:CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD OUR SUBMISSION

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