Thursday, 22 September 2016

Forestry in the Emissions Trading Scheme

by Tom Carver, Motu Intern

The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) is “the Government’s principal policy response to climate change”.[1] It has been operational since 2008; however, much of the information and data that is are necessary to evaluate its performance and model the future evolution of the ETS and its implications for meeting future targets haves not been publicly released by the government. 

Earlier this year Motu requested information on:
  • Clarification for how forestry will be accounted for under New Zealand’s Paris INDC targets, and any associated modelling;
  • Forecasts of afforestation, emissions and removals from ETS registered forests;
  • Extra details on forestry that had not yet been made public:
  1. Age and size profile for ETS registered forests;
  2. Area weighted average age of deforestation for pre-1990 forests;
  3. Region, age and species of land removed from the ETS;
  4. Other technical details: The extent of ETS exemptions for tree weeds and owners with less than 50 hectares of pre-1990 forest, distinctions between data reporting in voluntary vs. mandatory returns, forest area involved in forest offsetting provisions (enabling landowners to avoid ETS deforestation liabilities if they establish a comparable forest elsewhere), and the proportion of NZUs in the ETS bank that are attached to future liabilities for post-1989 forest.
MPI officials withheld information on the first point on the grounds that negotiations for these rules are still being finalised after the Paris agreement last year and that these are therefore sensitive. The information they provided is available on the Motu website.