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NZ 'off track' on greenhouse targets

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/03/2017 Pattrick Smellie

Technological breakthroughs, more plantation forests and a big switch from pastoral and dairy farming are needed to reduce New Zealand's carbon emissions to zero.

This is according to a new report, Net Zero in New Zealand, sponsored by the local chapter of GLOBE, a multi-party, global parliamentary grouping.

It found New Zealand remains "off track" to meet its climate change policy commitments.

However, it also found it was possible to meet its commitments in the second half of the century if it alters its land-use patterns.

There was an "acute need" to upgrade the quality of energy and land-use modelling tools to help support a plan to achieve low carbon emissions, it found.

Unusually for developed countries, New Zealand already has a high level of renewable electricity generation.

However, there was a major opportunity to electrify as much of the public, private and freight transport as possible to substantially reduce carbon emissions, the report said.

Far higher carbon prices than today's $17-plus would also be required if the emissions trading scheme was to start changing investment and public behaviour.

To further reduce emission the report posed two key future scenarios - "Innovative NZ" and "Resourceful NZ".

The Innovative scenario delivers more emissions reduction gains through scientific discoveries, such as a vaccine to lower methane emissions from cows.

The Resourceful scenario assumes a doubling in plantation forestry and reversion to native bush of currently marginal, eroded land.

Green MP and former diplomat Kennedy Graham has been a prime mover in establishing GLOBE in New Zealand, with members from across the the country's political landscape.

Its report coincides with Tuesday's release of a report card on New Zealand's environmental performance from the OECD, which also highlighted farming and car emissions as problems.

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