Insurance Council of New Zealand says it's "pleased to see the Government introduce their Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill to parliament on Wednesday.
ICNZ supports the Bill and is committed to working with government on understanding and adapting to risk to reduce the cost climate change has for communities and New Zealand more broadly. Insurers have a lot of knowledge around the risks climate change poses through increased frequency and severity of storms and changes in flood risk from natural causes and the sorts of costs these changes incur.
"We are especially pleased to see that Bill will place a legal obligation on the government to support adaptation initiatives", said ICNZ Chief Executive, Tim Grafton. "Mitigation is simply not enough on its own; even if all carbon emissions ceased today, we would still be dealing with the effects of a changing climate for years to come."
Figures presented by UMR at the 2018 ICNZ conference showed a majority of people thought climate change was concerning or very concerning.
"According to preliminary research from NIWA, there are 125,600 buildings and $38 billion of replacement costs within 0-1m of sea level rise and there is near certainty that the sea will rise a further 0.2m to 0.3m in the next 20 years," said Grafton. "With these sea level rises come increasing risks from storms and coastal inundation, as well as the increased risks of ever higher water tables and sunny day flooding."
Adaptation actions can include improving infrastructure such as stormwater systems, moving properties away from coastal areas and floodplains and not consenting new properties in these areas, and building new residential and commercial buildings to be more resilient to a changing climate.
"Failing to adapt will cost us greatly and the longer we delay, the more that cost will increase," said Grafton.
DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle reconfirmed the dairy sector’s commitment to play its part to reduce its biological emissions, and supports the intent of the direction of the Zero Carbon Bill.
“Our farmers are committed to sustainable farming practices, and need long-term certainty to make business decisions based on reduction targets. We are pleased the Government has listened to the science regarding the short-lived nature of methane, recognising it has a different impact on the environment,” says Dr Mackle.
“DairyNZ supports a science-based approach, where each gas is reduced based on its warming impact. We have not yet seen the Government’s analysis behind the 2050 target range. The 2050 target, of reducing methane by 24 to 47 per cent, is based on global scenarios that are not grounded in the New Zealand context. This range for methane, combined with reducing nitrous oxide to net zero, goes beyond expert scientific advice for what is necessary for New Zealand agriculture to limit global warming to no more than at 1.5° C.
“It is very important to get the range right. If we get this wrong it will have significant impacts on not just the dairy sector, but the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of New Zealand.
“While we can support much of what is in the Zero Carbon legislation, we will be pushing for the range to be reviewed and aligned with the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, of 10-22 per cent reduction in methane. When combined with our commitment on nitrous oxide to net zero, this is an equitable, yet ambitious and challenging target, that is grounded in robust science.
“We know our farmers will be concerned by the 47 per cent and what that might mean for their livelihoods. It is not set in stone, and the Bill includes a number of criteria for review including availability of mitigation options, what other countries are doing, and reduction efforts by other sectors.
“New Zealand is already one of the lowest emissions producers of dairy nutrition in the world per kilogram of milksolids and we want to build on that advantage. Climate change is a global issue and it is good for the world if dairy production stays in New Zealand where we have low emissions for the amount we produce. We believe our premium, grass-based, high nutrition dairy will continue to be in demand well into the future, alongside a range of other options consumers may have.
“The 2030 reduction target is the first step, which we know will be very challenging. But there is action that farmers can take, and are already taking, to reduce on-farm emissions. The first step is to understand their emissions and where they come from. As part of our pan-sector Dairy Tomorrow strategy, over the next 5 years each farm will have a farm-specific plan to manage and reduce these emissions.
“DairyNZ remains focused on researching and developing tools to help farmers make choices for how to reduce emissions - through farm systems changes and new technologies. It will take time for some of these tools to develop. We will continue working closely with government to ensure all efforts on farm are recognised, and expert advice and training is made available. This support is a vital part of a fair transition.
Local Government New Zealand welcomed the introduction of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill "as a necessary step towards meeting our international obligations to reduce greenhouse gases in our economy".
Until now, mitigation measures were largely left to the exchange trading schemes and individual commitments from organisations, but without targets these have lacked the necessary incentives to change behaviours.
“Local councils have long known that they must do their part to both lower their own emissions, and encourage the same in their communities,” says LGNZ Vice-President Stuart Crosby.
“That’s why LGNZ welcome this Bill, as it provides further support for the work councils have been doing, notably through the Draft sector position on mitigation and the Stocktake of local government mitigation activity.”
“The vast majority of councils have also signed the Local Government Leader’s Climate Change Declaration, which has displayed real leadership from the sector, so we commend for providing national direction through the Zero Carbon Bill.”
Climate Change is one of four flagship projects in the 2019-22 LGNZ Business Plan.
“LGNZ look forward to inputting into the Zero Carbon Bill legislation process, and through the actions outlined in our business plan we will continue to advocate for greater support around adapting to climate change, as well as mitigation.”
However, Federated Farmers says targets released for farming’s methane emissions are going to send the message to farmers that New Zealand is prepared to give up on pastoral farming.
"This decision is frustratingly cruel, because there is nothing I can do on my farm today that will give me confidence I can ever achieve these targets", Federated Farmers says vice president and Climate Change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.
New Zealand farmers are already playing their part in tackling global warming, and are willing to do more.
"But hearing the government setting arbitrary targets based on a random selection of reports and incomplete data will leave some farmers wondering; ‘what is the point’?
"The 10% reduction target for methane by 2030 gives us a deadline for going beyond net zero more than 20 years earlier than for any other sector of New Zealand. It is unheard of anywhere else on the planet," Andrew says.
The targets are significantly higher than what is necessary to be equivalent to net-zero carbon dioxide.
The announced methane reduction target for 2050 of 24-50%, when coupled with the target of net zero for nitrous oxide, requires the New Zealand agriculture sector to reduce its emissions by 43-60%.
"Let’s be clear, the only way to achieve reductions of that level, is to cut production. There are no magic technologies out there waiting for us to implement.
"At this point in time we have no idea how to achieve reductions of this level, without culling significant stock numbers.
"All Kiwis need to ask themselves one simple question: ‘if we cut our agricultural production by up to 50% over the next 30 years, what is the country going to do for jobs, taxes and community investment, in the future?"
In complete contradiction to the most recent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report, New Zealand farmers will also not be able to offset their methane emissions by planting trees.
"Large fossil carbon dioxide polluters can offset their emissions by continuing to buy up land and putting it into forestry, but farmers will not be able to offset their methane emissions by planting trees on their own land.
"Basically pastoral farming is being used to buy the rest of New Zealand time to deal with the fundamental driver of climate change - increased carbon dioxide emissions. That’s the greenhouse gas the government obviously finds too politically hot to handle."
Forest & Bird is "welcoming" the target to keep warming to no more than 1.5 degrees in the Zero Carbon Bill announced by Government today, but disappointed the price of agreement was special treatment for agriculture.
"We are strongly backing 1.5 degrees because this is the limit required to protect nature and people from the worst effects of climate change," says Forest & Bird spokesperson Geoff Keey.
"That's what our native species need, and it's what our children and grandchildren need."
"We are disappointed the draft of this landmark legislation offers special favours to the agriculture lobby. If agriculture doesn't play a bigger role in reducing warming, everyone else in New Zealand will have to work twice as hard. Climate change demands we do everything we can, not pick and choose.”
“When the Government consulted New Zealanders last year, 91% of those who submitted called for a net zero all gases target. New Zealanders will need to make their voice heard as Parliament considers the Bill.”
The Bill requires the Government to write emission reduction plans that take into account a just transition for workers, regions, iwi and Māori, and wider communities.
“We are pleased to see a just transition, but the Bill also needs to take into account the impact of our climate change response on nature. Adaptation plans proposed under this Bill need to acknowledge the role nature plays in making New Zealand more resilient. We will be pushing for these changes at select committee,” says Mr Keey.
"Our native species are already in serious trouble, and climate change could be the nail in the coffin. But we know healthy native forests, oceans, and coastlines are essential for soaking up carbon and protecting us from floods and storms. Protecting nature should be at the heart of our climate response."
BusinessNZ says clear policies and actions and a political bipartisan approach will be needed to meet the "ambitious" targets contained in new zero carbon legislation.
The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill establishes a net zero target for long-lived gases such as carbon and nitrous oxide and a target for cutting agricultural methane emissions by up to 47 percent, by 2050.
BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope said last year’s consultation exercise showed there is wide public support for a 2050 zero carbon target.
"What we need now is a plan of action to deliver on these ambitious targets," Mr Hope said.
"New Zealand is already facing a 2030 target that needs policies and actions in place to be achieved. The work required to clarify actions needed for both the 2030 and 2050 targets should be a priority.
"Business is keen to engage with the Government and Climate Change Commission on the workplan for both.
"We need to implement changes that don’t get ahead of our trade competitors and ensure our exporters remain internationally competitive, while effectively transitioning to a zero-carbon economy.
"The next step needs to be a bipartisan approach by the main political parties in shepherding this Bill through to becoming legislation. A unified, shared approach by our political leaders will allow the legislation to deliver clear, long-term signals to businesses and consumers."