NDCs – Nationally Determined Contributions
“New Zealand’s Paris Agreement target is inconsistent with the Government’s goal of keeping the average temperature increase to within 1.5°C, officials have told ministers. The advice from the Ministry for the Environment was given to Climate Change Minister James Shaw in February and obtained by Stuff under the Official Information Act.
“Shaw was told the target allows some 85 million tonnes more emissions between 2021 and 2030 than would be compatible with a 1.5°C goal – putting the country over budget by about one year’s current emissions.” – Stuff July 2020
NDCs: Nationally Determined Contributions
- These are contributions that nations promised under the Paris Agreement (Article 4, paragraph 2) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
- New Zealand’s NDC target: by 2030 we will reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels.
- The target is to be managed using an emissions budget, meaning New Zealand is responsible for the total emissions 2021-2030.
- It’s supposed to include all sectors and all greenhouse gases. In reality many sectors have been given exemptions; the farming sector for example is exempt until 2025, when it will be heavily discounted (biogenic methane, ie methane from livestock, which is one of our largest greenhouse gas emissions by sector).
- We’re one of the worst-performing countries, ranking 44th out of 45 of the world’s Industrialised countries . We’re using more than six times our fair share of theemissions budget that would keep global temperature increases below 1.5°C (Fig. 1).
- Scroll down to see the full wording of New Zealand’s 2020 report to the UN is below (it’s short: Fig. 2).
- See the Climate Change Commission mentioned in the report.
Net emissions means gross greenhouse gas emissions (‘spending’ carbon) from all industrial activities, burning fossil fuels for energy, and agriculture, minus carbon sinks (‘saving’ carbon) from forestry, changing agricultural to improve soils, and regenerating natural ecosystems. However, instead of declining, global emissions continue to increase each year. Due to reduced transport, Covid-19 meant a temporary respite of carbon dioxide emissions. However, that has not reduced agriculture emissions in New Zealand and elsewhere. Manufacturing in China has also resurged. Moreover, dangerous tipping points are being breached, which means natural carbon sinks are now becoming sources of methane and carbon dioxide.
References and further reading
- 2020: Submission under the Paris Agreement Communication and update of New Zealand’s Nationally Determined Contribution 22 April 2020
- Ministry for the Environment: New Zealand’s Nationally Determined Contribution
- 2020: A safe operating space for New Zealand/Aotearoa:Translating the planetary boundaries framework; Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
- 2020: United Nations Emissions Gap Report
- Climate Action Tracker: New Zealand
- Ministry for the Environment: About New Zealand’s emissions reduction targets
- 2020: McElwee et al; The impact of interventions in the global land and agri‐food sectors on Nature’s Contributions to People and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Global Change Biology 12 June, 2020
- Rutgers University interview with the authors: How to tackle climate change, food security and land degradation
- 2020: Gibson; New Zealand’s Paris target too weak for 1.5C – official advice to Govt; Stuff.co.nz
- 2019: Tollefson; The hard truths of climate change—by the numbers Nature special report
- 2015: The Paris Accord
- IPCC: Special Report – Global Warming of 1.5°C