International Emissions Reduction Target Setting - Post CP1 Kyoto

Delays in outcomes from the current review of the NZ Emission Trading Scheme are related to the process of setting internationally-recognised new emissions reductions targets (post CP1 Kyoto). Review outcomes are now not expected until late August.

In early July world leaders at the G8 meeting in Italy agreed that green house gas emissions should be cut by 80% by mid century and the rise in global temperature should be kept below 2 degrees Celsius. However, when the world's 17 biggest emitters met after the G8 meeting, they were still unable to agree on specific targets, time-lines and burden sharing.

The burden sharing issue is both amongst developed countries and between developed and developing countries.

On one hand some of NZ's largest business and industry lobbies are calling for NZ to set a low level of emissions cuts to be achieved by 2020. On the other hand, NGOs such as Oxfam and Greenpeace are calling for much larger cuts. Scientists at the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have said that developed countries must cut their total emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 if the world is to meet a target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Recently the NZ government announced an emissions reduction target of 10-20% below 1990 emissions by 2020.

So far, 27 European nations have set an emissions cut target of 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 if UN negotiations lead to a strong, global climate treaty. Australia has promised to cut emissions by 25% below 2000 levels if UN talks are successful, but reduce this to only 5% if post a CP1 Kyoto Protocol fails to produce significant reduction targets from others.

Within this context, New Zealand is presently over 20% above 1990 emissions when the CP1 target is to be equal to 1990 emissions by the end of 2012.

So its easy to see (although not necessarily acceptable) that NZ domestic policy and legislation is being further delayed by the international context. Therefore the period of uncertainty is prolonged, and in most instances, people will have to sit on their hands and await developments.