"Either radically transform the NZ ETS, or dismantle it" – Submission to the Ministry for the Environment

OraTaiao has called on the Government to either radically transform NZ’s Emissions Trading Scheme, or end it. See our submission to the Government’s review.

The current NZ ETS is a dangerous vehicle for corporate welfare – at the cost of health, housing and more. At a minimum, the ETS must be fixed to ‘do no harm’. NZ’s biggest climate polluters currently delay cutting their fossil-fuelled pollution, by choosing cheap tree-planting. Cop-outs that put us even more at risk.

Carbon dioxide takes over 10,000 years to completely leave the thick atmospheric blanket of climate pollution overheating our world. Even ‘permanent’ indigenous forests are increasingly threatened by wildfires, infestation, landslips and floods, as our world overheats.

Free emissions allocation to industries must phase out fast so that big climate polluters face their full pollution costs before 2030. Mostly ‘vintage’ stockpiled units to expire in 1-2 years. Otherwise, NZ faces many billions for highly dubious offshore credits in 2030 – and getting stuck here with high-polluting businesses and dinosaur infrastructure.

Global climate experts now call for ‘rapid, deep and mostly immediate cuts to climate pollution in all sectors this decade’ – for half a chance of limiting global overheating to 1.5 degrees, and a two-thirds chance of 2 degrees. Every tenth of a degree counts. 

Papatūānuku is suffering – we see Cyclone Gabrielle here, and extreme heatwaves globally making lives harder and devastating economies.

This climate crisis is rapidly changing and NZ must act faster. We’re high-emitting, wealthy, and with the highest per capita historic climate pollution since 1850. Yet we’ve signed up to an ‘average’ global effort of halving emissions by 2030 – mostly tree-planting and buying offshore credits. That’s real emissions cuts of about 7% by 2030 – and NZ’s current ETS will fail that, let alone the bigger effort we owe our world.

For precision tools to drive essential emissions cuts across all sectors and gases, OraTaiao calls for:

  • putting Māori interests first, eliminating all Māori participation barriers, and creating equity for Māori.
  • two tightly capped separate trading schemes for carbon dioxide cuts and for biogenic methane cuts – at the speed and scale needed for negative emissions nearer to 2030.
  • taking trees to a new co-governed Carbon Removals project – so Māori and Crown direct forestry – why, where, and how long.
  • excluding international traders.
  • passing strong laws to phase out synthetic nitrogen fertilisers and fossil-fuelled methane leaks by 2030.
  • investing in direct support so low-income households thrive.
  • publicising to push faster changes ahead of new laws.

After 15 ineffectual years, either transform NZ’s ETS – or end it. Escalate our other climate tools – regulation, sector plans, direct investment, innovation and more. Our full submission is here, led by Liz Springford, with Grant Brookes, Summer Wright, Dermot Coffey, and Scott Metcalfe.

(Photo NZ Steel Mill. Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18437951)

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