Friday, 8 June 2018

E-Mission Possible roundtable summaries

by Catherine Leining and Ceridwyn Roberts, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

The road to a net-zero future is paved with challenging questions for which there are no definitive answers – just choices to be made under uncertainty and consequences to be faced under risk. In order to shed new light on particularly thorny questions for NZ's low-emission transition Motu, Productivity Commission, the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, and the Environmental Defence Society convened a series of roundtables.

We have now completed the summaries from all four E-Mission Possible Roundtables.  We received very positive feedback on all of the roundtables in the series, and want to thank everyone who contributed to their design, funding and implementation.


The first roundtable 'Unlocking our low-emission future' featured keynote speaker Prof Charles Kolstad (Stanford University) and Dr Suzi Kerr and Catherine Leining (Motu). The summary, panellist bios and presentations are available online.

Distinguished panellists and experts discussed the actions that are needed now to preserve desirable pathway options and the new tools, institutions, and processes that would help achieve a faster net-zero transition. For many in the room, climate policy influences their organisation’s planning and investment decisions. We have a lot of uncertainty about what the future policy will look like, just like we have uncertainty regarding the climate problem and the climate solutions. We deal with risks and uncertainties every day. The uncertainty does not have to get in the way of getting started with the things that have clear value today.

In the second roundtable 'Mitigation in the land sector', keynote speaker Dr Andy Reisinger (New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre) and Dr David Fleming and Dr Suzi Kerr from Motu gave presentations. The summary, panellist bios and presentations are available online.

The case for transformational change in agricultural production and options for integrated policy solutions across forestry and agriculture was discussed by distinguished panellists and experts. We have a diversity of opportunities and need a diversity of solutions. We can choose to weave a new basket, through our political and social institutions, policies and financial incentives that can hold these opportunities. Perhaps our ultimate vision can be that of a cornucopia that is overflowing with an abundance of land-sector products consistent with a net-zero – and net-negative – emission future

The third roundtable 'Low-emission investment and ETS reform' featured keynote speaker Prof Geoffrey Heal (Columbia University) and Dr Suzi Kerr and Catherine Leining from Motu gave presentations. The summary, panellist bios and presentations are available online.

Distinguished panellists and experts discussed how New Zealand can enable low-emission investment using both emissions trading reform and other tools. Our ultimate focus needs to be on reducing emissions to avoid dangerous climate change. We need to manage the strategic tensions between meeting short-term targets at least cost and supporting domestic and global transformation.

The fourth and final roundtable 'Directing Mitigation Policy and Action for Results' focused on the design of an effective climate change policy package for New Zealand. His Worship Justin Lester, Mayor of Wellington City, provided opening remarks. Then Prof Cameron Hepburn (Oxford University and Grantham Research Institute) and Jason Gray (California Air Resources Board) gave keynote addresses. This was followed by staff from the Productivity Commission with an update regarding their inquiry. All presentations, panellist bios and the summary of the day are available online.

Following comments by Motu, distinguished panellists and other participants discussed challenges surrounding the design of an integrated climate change policy package for New Zealand. The leadership for responding to the challenge of climate change will need to come from all of us: government, businesses and communities, and from the ground up. People need resources in order to be able to lead.

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