NZ’s 2030 climate change target

Tim Groser announced:

New Zealand will commit to a new, more ambitious target, Issues Minister Tim Groser announced today.

“This target is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030,” Mr Groser said. “This is a significant increase on our current target of five per cent below 1990 emission levels by 2020.”

Is it?

“New Zealand’s target is equivalent to a reduction of 11 per cent below our 1990 emission levels by 2030. Our target is expressed against 2005 emission levels similar to the approach of other significant players including the United States and Canada,” Mr Groser said.

So in fact it is saying a drop from -5% to -11% over an extra decade. That’s not particularly huge.

What does this mean in terms of actual numbers. Here is our actual (gross) emissions and targets in kilotonnes of CO2 equivalent

  • 1990 – 66,720
  • 2005 – 84,638
  • 2013 – 80,962
  • 2020 – 5% below 1990 – 63,384
  • 2030 – 30% below 2005 – 59,247
  • 2050 – 50% below 1990 – 33,360

So what is the reduction needed for each year between the dates above

  • 2013 – 2020 – 17,578/7 = 2,511 kt per year
  • 2020 – 2030 – 4,137/10 = 414 kt per year
  • 2030 – 2050 – 25,987/10 = 1299 kt per year

I don’t see any way we will meet the 2020 target. To compare let’s see what happened under the last three governments:

  • 1990 – 1999 – grew by 946 kt per year
  • 1999 – 2008 – grew by 732 kt per year
  • 2008 – 2013 – shrunk by 95 kt per year

Of course these are gross emissions. I think net emissions are more useful, but it seems targets are meant to be gross emissions.