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Do we have the energy to address climate change?

Do we have the energy to address climate change?

Climate change is a problem that is too far removed from our lives and too difficult to solve, while at the same time touching on every aspect of our lives. This paradox explains why it has taken the world some time to reach an agreement on how to address it.

Following years of debate, in 2015 the Paris Agreement set targets on greenhouse gas emissions to ensure that the world does not cause irreversible climate change. Most countries, including New Zealand, have since ratified this Agreement and in 2019, New Zealand adopted domestic targets to meet its commitments.

Meeting domestic targets through emissions budgets

Achieving these targets will involve actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions in all areas of activity, as well as creating some carbon sinks through forest planting.

The legislative framework requires the Government to set 5-yearly emissions budgets between now and 2050, a self-imposed timeline. This would allow the New Zealand economy to gradually reduce its greenhouse gas emissions while providing businesses more certainty.

The Climate Change Commission (Commission) prepared draft advice1 in January 2021 with its recommendations for emissions budgets, and the options it sees for individual sectors of activity to meet these commitments (see our analysis here).

Economy to shift to renewable electricity

The common thread throughout the Commission’s draft advice is the need to decarbonise the New Zealand economy by moving New Zealand away from fossil-fuel-based energy sources and on to using mainly renewable electricity. This would include greater use of electricity over other energy sources for transport and domestic needs.

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