Friday 1 September 2023

Motu researchers release a guide aimed at assisting communities facing large, disruptive changes

By Catherine Leining, a Policy Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research*

The challenges our communities are facing don’t come with a manual.

How and where should households, businesses and marae recover and rebuild in the devastating wake of Cyclone Gabrielle knowing future storms lie ahead?

What changes will enable farming and forestry operations to thrive under carbon and other environmental limits?

How should skilled workers and their families in places like Taranaki or Southland prepare for fundamental changes to the sectors for which they trained?

How can communities help meet the needs of those struggling most with the rising cost of living?

These challenges are not short shocks from which things can return to normal. They require transitions to new ways of life.

Thursday 22 December 2022

Including forestry in an emissions trading scheme: Lessons from New Zealand

In September 2022, the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change published a paper by Motu researchers on forestry in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme. The abstract is provided below. The full paper can be downloaded online.

Photo by Mark de Jong on Unsplash

The forestry sector has a crucial role to play in mitigating climate change. Given the share of global emissions covered by emissions trading is expected to rise, there is a need to understand how emissions trading might drive behavior change in the forestry sector. 

To explore this, we analyze the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) − the only system in the world with symmetrical incentives that reward forest owners who afforest and make liable those who deforest. In theory, these incentives should drive net carbon dioxide removals in the forestry sector, but the sectoral response has proven complex. 

We evaluate the NZ ETS policies that directly affect forestry and the sectoral response to these policies by analyzing trends in deforestation, afforestation, and participation over 2008 to 2022. 

Our findings indicate that the forestry sector, and the NZ ETS participants within it, have responded rationally to emissions pricing over time. However, multiple factors such as complex participation requirements, extended periods of policy uncertainty, and weak emissions price signals (particularly over 2011–2016) have likely restricted the effectiveness of the NZ ETS in changing forestry outcomes over much of its operating life. 

Tuesday 21 December 2021

Climate change and global governance: Personal reflections on the journey from COP6 to COP26

Catherine Leining is a Policy Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research and a Commissioner at He Pou a Rangi New Zealand Climate Change Commission. She also serves on the Board of the New Zealand Centre for Global Studies. This post is an adaptation of Catherine’s response to an address by the Hon James Shaw, New Zealand Minister of Climate Change, at the Centre’s 8th Annual Global Affairs Lecture (‘The UN and Climate Negotiations: Implications for our planet and country’) on 6 December 2021. Catherine’s response was given in her individual capacity and does not represent the views of her affiliated organisations. This post first appeared on the blog for the New Zealand Centre for Global Studies on 15 December 2021.  

The 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021. While tangible progress was made both inside and outside the formal negotiations, the world still faces a critical target gap to limit rises in global temperatures to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels. 

I would like to share my personal experience in the international climate change negotiations and offer further reflections on the challenges of climate change and global governance. These are only reflections, not answers.

Friday 3 September 2021

New research documents challenges with industrial free allocation in the NZ ETS

The following press release was issued by Motu on 3 September 2021.  

A new paper from Motu Research documents why the current approach to industrial free allocation under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) is outdated, poses high costs to Kiwi taxpayers, could make it harder to meet our 2050 climate change target and raises fairness issues across sectors.  

These issues underpin the government’s current consultation on reform options to industrial free allocation open until 17 September 2021. This paper presents further reform options the government and stakeholders could consider.

Saturday 3 April 2021

New proposal to boost voluntary climate action

This post was first published in Newsroom

By Catherine Leining, a Policy Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research and a Climate Change Commissioner

Many organisations want to go the extra distance to support the transition to lower emissions and fight climate change. Catherine Leining outlines Motu Research's proposal for how to incentivise and assist voluntary climate action.

Aotearoa New Zealand faces a gap in meeting its 2030 climate change target under the international Paris Agreement. And the world faces a collective gap in committed action to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.

An innovative policy proposal from Motu Research could mobilise voluntary climate action to help bridge those gaps and enable organisations to make credible, transparent and marketable emission mitigation claims.

Tuesday 2 June 2020

Even with a pandemic, we cannot afford to press 'pause' on climate action

Photo by Jan Kaluza on Unsplash
Catherine Leining is a Policy Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research and a New Zealand Climate Change Commissioner.

On 4 May 2020, as Parliament was emerging from lock down, so too did the Environment Committee’s report on the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Amendment Bill. This Bill deserves close attention, as the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has a critical role to play in post-pandemic recovery.

The most crucial features of the Bill remain the same: to add a cap to our cap-and-trade system; to guard against extreme emission prices; to improve incentives for new forests; and to prepare the way for pricing agricultural emissions.

Friday 1 May 2020

Illuminating carbon market dynamics using the NZ ETS Cap Explorer Tool

By Ruth Copeland, Communications Director, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

With the Environment Select Committee due to report back on the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Amendment Bill, perhaps this is a timely reminder to have a good look at the NZ ETS Cap Explorer Tool released last year by Motu. The government plans to improve the current ETS by introducing a ‘cap’ on emissions covered by the scheme. This cap will reduce over time to help us meet our emission reduction targets.

The tool is designed to highlight complex ETS dynamics using data derived from the modelling of hypothetical scenarios. If you adjust the parameters within the various scenarios, you can easily investigate the effect on emission levels and prices.