By Catherine Leining, Policy Fellow, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research
According to a recent survey, 87% of New Zealanders have at least some level of concern about the impacts of climate change on society. The government is currently consulting on how we want to translate climate concern into a target for reducing New Zealand’s emissions after 2020.
discussion document addresses the national context for setting a target and has a strong focus on the costs that accompany ambition. But looking at the underlying modelling by Infometrics and Landcare Research reveals more about the cost story in the discussion document than first meets the eye. It also highlights the importance of discussing pathways alongside targets.
First, the modelling excludes important mitigation opportunities and benefits for New Zealand. The authors of both studies are transparent about the limitations of their methodology (although these are not explicit in the discussion document). For example, they exclude mitigation from the forestry sector, the potential for transformational technology changes (e.g. electric vehicles and improved batteries), and the value to society of co-benefits to human health, the environment and New Zealand’s international standing (e.g. clean-green branding) as well as avoided climate change impacts.