Integrated Planning for Climate Action

A carbon budget is essential to planning for serious emission reductions.  It details the expected carbon flows and how these can be reduced by practical actions. Pricing instruments such as the ETS are simply delivery tools, and the real action lies in how carbon budgets are set.

The Zero Carbon Act has delivered a carbon budgeting process for New Zealand through the establishment of the Climate Change Commission.  Its task of preparing the analysis to create a series of five year budgets is the essential basis for setting a long term plan for the country.

Carbon budgets are cast in the measure that ultimately matters – tonnes of carbon.  Rather than being denominated in dollars, as far as possible they track real flows of carbon.  This cuts through many of the problems that arise from accounts based on carbon credits.

The Commission is responsible for working with stakeholders to explore options and their costs, in order to devise sector action plans that build into budgets.  Carbon budgeting becomes the process that integrates the ETS, complementary measures, and financial limitations. It is the commanding heights for domestic climate action.

Taking climate change modelling outside government departments and placing it with an independent body is an important step in itself.  This provides the potential for a neutral platform for climate modelling and community engagement with that process.

The process is however significantly constrained in its first decade by a statutory limitation that emissions budgets must not plan for biological methane emissions to be reduced by more than 10% by 2030, from 2017 levels.  On current projections, this protection for agricultural emitters would impose large costs on other sectors of the community – be it other emitters or taxpayers.  Other aspects of the Zero Carbon Act also limit the potential of the Commission and the budgeting process, as outlined in the Council’s submission.

Key documents

Zero Carbon Bill Submission

Carbon Budgeting – Integrated Planning for Climate Action

Carbon Budgeting When Between Two Worlds

The Carbon Budget Deficit

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