New Zealand’s ETS now put on hold

Any further changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – including getting rid of free credits to heavy emitters and changing forestry rules – will not be made until the end of next year, the NZ Government says.

Climate minister James Shaw has told his Cabinet colleagues that changes are required, but first he wants to get the big picture in place, including passing the Zero Carbon Act and appointing a climate commission. Shaw has already doubled New Zealand’s long-term emissions reduction target by promising the country will be carbon-neutral by 2050.

In a Cabinet briefing paper, he says that means changes to the nine-year-old scheme, but not yet. “The Climate Change Response Act 2002 establishes the NZ ETS,” he said. “I intend that any amendments be made through a Climate Change Response Amendment Bill by the end of 2019.

“Ideally, these changes would follow the commencement of the Zero Carbon Act and the commission’s consideration of the role of agriculture in climate change policy.” Shaw says he’s got officials at the Ministry for the Environment working on the forestry issue.

They are also looking at possible changes to forestry rules, and Shaw says these are unlikely to go through until the end of next year. That’s likely to upset forest owners, who say that changes are needed to encourage the level of planting needed for New Zealand to meet its international emissions reduction commitments.

Planting rates have fallen off so much in recent years that officials say that by 2030, the country will be able to count on storing just four million tonnes of carbon in trees, down from 30 million tonnes in 1990.

Source: Carbon News 2018

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