Friday, 30 August 2019

Zero Carbon Bill - oral submission from Catherine Leining and John McDermott


John McDermott is the Executive Director at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research in Wellington, and Catherine Leining is a Policy Fellow at Motu. This is the oral submission to the Environment Select Committee they made on the Zero Carbon Bill in their individual capacities.  

To build a successful low-emission economy, we need continuity of sound, evidence-based policy across elections. Today we will highlight three technical areas for improving this bill in line with New Zealand’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, and conclude with comments about target ambition. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

How emissions trading schemes work and they can help us shift to a zero carbon future

by Catherine Leining, Policy Fellow, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

Would you please explain how the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) works in simple terms? Who pays and where does the money go?

Every tonne of emissions causes damages and a cost to society. In traditional market transactions, these costs are ignored. Putting a price on emissions forces us to face at least some of the cost of the emissions associated with what we produce and consume, and it influences us to choose lower-emission options.

An emissions trading scheme (ETS) is a tool that puts a quantity limit and a price on emissions. Its “currency” is emission units issued by the government. Each unit is like a voucher that allows the holder to emit one tonne of greenhouse gases.

The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) is the government’s main tool to meet our target under the Paris Agreement. In a typical ETS, the government caps the number of units in line with its emissions target and the trading market sets the corresponding emission price.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Integrating climate with economy needs to extend beyond government

A reaction to the Wellbeing Budget of May 2019 by Catherine Leining, Policy Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research


On 30 May 2019, the New Zealand government released its first “Wellbeing Budget.” Under this framework, new funding for climate change mitigation has been integrated with economic development. Adaptation gets only a brief nod. Is this budget allocation adequate to meet the climate change challenge before us? No – but could it ever be?

One key theme is research for a low-emission future. Examples are a National New-Energy Development Centre in Taranaki ($27m), an Advanced Energy Technology Platform ($20m), a Bioresource Processing Alliance and Product Accelerator ($18m), and an Agricultural Climate Change Research Platform ($3.2m). MBIE will advance policy on the future of work and “just transition” issues.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Commentary on Tranche Two Decisions on the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme by Catherine Leining, Policy Fellow, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research. 

Reforming New Zealand’s climate change legislation is a complex tango. Where the Zero Carbon Amendment Bill leads, NZ ETS amendments must follow. The government’s latest NZ ETS policy decisions will help ensure future emission prices rise in step with our targets. Check out our “Top Ten” list of alterations to watch for as we outfit the NZ ETS for the important job ahead or read on for comments on yesterday's announcements.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Commentary on introduction of the Zero Carbon Amendment Bill


by Catherine Leining, Policy Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

The Government is heeding the stark warning in the IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5oC and putting New Zealand on an ambitious pathway toward net zero emissions of long-lived GHGs and substantial reductions in methane from agriculture and waste by 2050. The Zero Carbon Amendment Bill may finally light the fire under NZ mitigation action. It breaks important new ground in 6 ways.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

PCE report on “Farms, forests and fossil fuels”: One lump or two?

by Catherine Leining, Policy Fellow, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

On 26 March 2019, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) released a report on “Farms, forests and fossil fuels: The next great landscape transformation?” It looks at the challenges in decarbonising New Zealand’s economy and asks whether a fundamental restructure of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) will be needed. 

The PCE usefully reinforces three important points: targets and policies should reflect differences across greenhouse gases (GHGs), fossil carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions need to reach zero during this century, and management of New Zealand’s land sector would be enhanced by a landscape approach that integrates climate change and other considerations.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Greenhouse gas recommendations from the Government’s Tax Working Group

by Catherine Leining, Policy Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

On 21 February 2019, the Government’s Tax Working Group (TWG) issued a report with advice on using environmental taxes to manage greenhouse gas emissions. It recommended retaining the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) with reforms to provide greater guidance on price, generate revenue through auctioning, and enable periodic review. It also recommended extending emission pricing to biological emissions from the agriculture sector, whether through the NZ ETS or a complementary system. It suggested those changes can help drive behaviour change to reduce emissions, generate revenue supporting the transition to a more sustainable economy, and, in the longer term, broaden the overall tax base.