The Future is Equal

Oxfam Aotearoa reacts to the Climate Change Commission’s report

Oxfam Aotearoa reacts to the historic Climate Change Commission report released today at parliament that outlines recommendations for Aotearoa, New Zealand’s climate action over the next 15 years.  

Oxfam Aotearoa’s Campaign Lead Alex Johnston says that report marks a step up in the country’s response to climate change, but that the final does not reflect the urgency around the current climate crisis we’re in. Johnston says that although we can’t deny this is a historic moment, we need to do more. 

“The Climate Change Commission’s report draws a line in the sand for the bare minimum of what the government should be doing to reduce New Zealand’s climate pollution. However, if adopted using the timeframes currently proposed, they won’t make much of a difference.  

“Aotearoa needs to do more to achieve its fair share of keeping to 1.5 degrees, so that our friends, colleagues and loved ones in the Pacific and beyond do not have to endure rising poverty, lack of food, moving homes, loss of culture. Greater action is needed in prior to 2030 to ensure a safe climate future for all.” 

The recently released report will be used to inform New Zealand’s upgraded target at COP26, the global climate talks in Glasgow, later this year. 

Johnston says that Aotearoa is getting left further behind as other countries race to step up their commitments under the Paris Agreement:  

“The US has a target of 50% reductions by 2030​, compared to 2005 levels. The UK has a target of 68% reductions by 2030, ​compared to 1990 levels. And now compare this to New Zealand’s target of 30% reduction by 2030​ (compared to 2005 levels), and you can see how we have a problem.” 

New Zealand’s agricultural sector is responsible for around half of the country’s total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, but only has a 10% reduction target by 2030 under the Zero Carbon Act.  Earlier this year Oxfam Aotearoa urged the Commission to greatly enhance their emissions budgets with agriculture in mind. 

“The government continues to let agricultural emissions off the hook, and this is reflected in the Commission’s report – it’s the area where planned reductions are most clearly not aligned with 1.5-degree pathways, and this is holding back how ambitious we can be in our international 2030 target,” said Johnston. 

“What we need is to invest in supporting farmers to diversify land uses. Cutting climate pollution from agriculture should include specific and direct regulations on the sources of pollution and rewarding those already farming sustainably, pricing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme, and using the revenue to fund the transition to sustainable food productions.  

“The reality is this: unfortunately, in order for Aotearoa to uphold its end of the agreement to keep warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius, our government either need to do much more to reduce methane pollution at home, or we will need to spend billions of dollars of offshore carbon credits. Essentially passing on an unfair burden of reducing emissions to developing nations like our Pacific neighbours to do our work for us. 

“We cannot embed our sky-high methane emissions caused by industrial agribusiness at the expense of small-scale farmers around the world growing food for their communities. These are people that have contributed the least to the problem, and are facing disruption to their food security due to climate change. That is not climate justice.”  

For interview opportunities and more info: 

David Bull, Oxfam Aotearoa 

Notes to editors  

The richest 10% accounted for over half (52%) of the emissions added to the atmosphere between 1990 and 2015. The richest 1% were responsible for 15% of emissions during this time – more than all the citizens of the EU and more than twice that of the poorest half of humanity (7%).  

Download Oxfam’s report, ‘Confronting Carbon Inequality,’ for more information.  

The combined climate plans submitted by countries account to a dismal 1% emissions reduction, which is way off track from the targeted 45% reduction needed to limit global warming below 1.5 degrees, and to avoid disastrous impacts on vulnerable communities.  

The government is also reviewing New Zealand’s Paris Agreement target for emissions reductions by 2030, our ‘Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)’, which the Commission found to currently be inconsistent with global efforts to stay within 1.5C of global heating. New Zealand is one of the countries yet to increase its NDC target ahead of COP26, the global climate talks in Glasgow in November. 

Oxfam New Zealand’s 2020 report ‘A Fair 2030 Target for Aotearoa’ found that New Zealand’s fair share of effort for keeping to 1.5 degrees would be no less than an 80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2030.