The Future is Equal


Oxfam Aotearoa reaction to Emissions Reduction Plan

The Emissions Reduction Plan is a hodgepodge of responses from Ministers, some of whom appear to not be grappling with the very real urgency of climate breakdown, says Oxfam Aotearoa Campaign Lead Alex Johnston.   


“Taking nine months to come up with a discussion document about making yet another strategy is not acceptable. With COP26 less than a month away, the government clearly isn’t taking the climate crisis with the urgency required to keep a safe climate future within reach. Aotearoa needs to do more to achieve its fair share of keeping to 1.5 degrees. 


“We think of our friends, colleagues and loved ones in the Pacific and beyond who will have to continue to endure rising poverty and hunger, farmers who are losing crops, family homes being destroyed by rising sea levels, and loss of their whenua and culture.   


“We urge the Prime Minister to exert leadership within the Climate Change Response Ministerial Group to get Ministers to come back to the table with policy levers that will reduce emissions further and faster, while leaving no one behind. Every sector has to play its part – this includes our agriculture sector which is responsible for half of our emissions profile, but has no new reductions forecasted before 2025. He Waka Eke Noa is not going to meet the target the Government has set itself. The handbrakes need to be taken off now to allow agriculture to play its part in our collective effort to reduce emissions. 


“We call on the Government to support farmers to adopt regenerative farming practices that restore soil, water and air quality, including funding to help them do this; to bring forward the pricing of agricultural emissions in the ETS; and to phase out the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, which has fuelled the growth in the dairy cow numbers over the past three decades. 


“It is obvious that there is a missing link between the Draft Plan and level of emissions allowed in the proposed emissions budgets. There is also a huge gap between the plan, emissions and what is needed to step up our international commitments by 2030 to keep to 1.5 degrees. Much bolder action is needed to allow our domestic plan to do more of the heavy lifting in meeting our international target, which itself is too low. 


“Taking bold action to reduce climate pollution is still the best opportunity we have to create a just, inclusive and sustainable world where people and planet thrive. The solutions are in our reach, and the public will back Aotearoa playing its part to make that a reality.” 

The Food System Summit failed hundreds of millions going hungry everyday – Oxfam reaction

In reaction to the United Nations Food Systems Summit which was held over the past two days, Thierry Kesteloot, Oxfam’s food policy advisor said:

“The Food Systems Summit has failed hundreds of millions who are going hungry every day, by offering elitist and mere band-aid solutions rather than tackling the root causes of our broken global food system.

“We cannot end the hunger pandemic without addressing the climate crisis, the erosion of agricultural biodiversity, or the deep inequalities and human rights violations that perpetuate poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

“The Summit ambitions fell short in realising the right to adequate food for all and paled next to a catastrophic hunger crisis that is being made worse by the economic fallout of the coronavirus. 11 people are likely dying every minute from hunger, and three billion people, many of whom are women, cannot afford even the most basic healthy diet.

“Oxfam’s report “Ripe for Change” shows that big supermarkets and other corporate food giants dominate global food markets, allowing them to squeeze value from vast supply chains that span the globe, while the bargaining power of small-scale farmers and women workers who make the food we eat, has steadily eroded.

Yet, the Summit ignored proven solutions and failed to address needed policy actions to radically transform food systems. Instead, it has catered to the interests of a handful of food and agribusiness giants, while side-lining most food and smallholder farmers organisations at the forefront of food production.

“To fix our broken food system, governments must first guarantee the rights of food workers, smallholder farmers and marginalised people, by putting a fair, gender-just, resilient and sustainable global food system at the heart of the post-pandemic recovery. Governments must also support a global social protection scheme to help people overcome poverty and hunger.

“Without putting the rights and needs of small-scale farmers and food workers at the heart of transforming our global food systems, any solutions will only fuel further inequality and hunger.”



5 things to boost Climate Commission’s plan to cut NZs pollution

5 things that can boost the Climate Commission’s plan to cut New Zealand’s pollution

You might have heard about the Climate Commission’s draft plan for New Zealand’s climate action over the next 15 years. This is a crucial opportunity to put a roadmap in place that will allow Aotearoa to play our part in overcoming the climate challenge and ensuring our action will stand with those facing the impacts of climate breakdown right now. It covers a lot, so here we highlight four good things, and five areas for improvement. You can have your say too. The Climate Commission is seeking submissions up until March 28th. 

This is a 5minute read about key areas relevant to Oxfam’s work on global equity and climate justice. To make a submission that covers more areas of what the Climate Commission is asking for feedback on, use the submission guide we prepared with a bunch of other organisations. 

4 great things about the Commission’s plan.

1. It confirms New Zealand’s international climate target needs to be boosted. 

Something that we’ve long been talking about is that New Zealand’s 2030 target for reducing pollution under the Paris Agreement is inconsistent with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. The Commission agrees, and recommended that New Zealand ought to do more than the average to reflect our outsized carbon footprint and past contribution to causing climate change. As a developed, relatively wealthy nation, our international target should reflect our fair share of emissions cuts. Last year, we released a report outlining what New Zealand’s fair share would be: at least 99% reductions below 1990 levels by 2030. 

2. Permanent native forests are part of the solution. 

A key aspect to the Commission’s plans is that relying solely on large pine forests to offset our emissions isn’t desirable or sustainable. As a country we need to cut our pollution at the source. There will still be a big role for forestry to meet our targets, but the Commission envisages much more of forestry’s role in absorbing carbon to be done through permanent native forests, which is great news for our biodiversity. 

3. The Commission’s plan confirmed that fossil gas is not a bridge fuel. 

Vested interests in the fossil fuel industry have tried to advocate for fossil gas as a ‘bridge’ or ‘transition’ fuel while we decarbonise away from coal. However, the Commission’s analysis shows that it is necessary and possible to cut our pollution from all fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – in order to meet our targets. We think that shifting from all fossil fuels needs to be faster than the Commission plans for, but overall the Commission’s plan helps confirm that fossil fuels are history and we need to embrace the clean, renewable future once and for all. 

4. It highlights climate finance to communities on the frontlines is a necessary part of our international action. 

New Zealand’s responsibilities for acting on climate change are not just for cutting our pollution at home, but also supporting communities in the Pacific and beyond that are on the frontlines of climate change to adapt to the impacts they are facing. Currently New Zealand has woefully low levels of climate finance compared to others. The Commission states that climate finance to developing countries can be part of New Zealand contributing to global climate action. This is great, and can potentially supplement our international target, however the focus of this finance should be on adaptation and mitigation, not solely mitigation.

5 things that can improve the Commission’s plan

5 things that can improve the Commission’s plan

1. It should boost our domestic action to be compatible with 1.5 degrees (a safe climate future) 

We know that the best chance of keeping global heating to 1.5 degrees is by cutting pollution fast in the next 10 years. The most disappointing part of the Commission’s plan is that it is not enough to meet our current Paris Agreement target for 2030. This is the same target the Commission has found to be inconsistent with limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees. We need to increase the pollution cuts in the first two ‘emissions budgets’ drafted by the Commission to set us up for a 2030 pathway consistent with 1.5 degrees. This can be done through making polluters pay for their pollution faster than planned, bringing forward end dates for fossil fuel use, and increasing direct government investment in our decarbonisation rather than relying on incentives. 

2. It should recommend a fair share target for our international climate commitment. 

It’s great that the Commission found New Zealand’s current international target under the Paris Agreement needs to be boosted. What’s needed now is to increase it in line with our fair share of pollution reductions, so that we don’t hand an unfair burden to developing nations to do our work for us and deal with the impacts. At the moment, the Commission doesn’t recommend what our fair share would be. We need them to recommend a target (or a target range) that would reflect our outsized carbon footprint and historical responsibility for causing climate change so that the government can’t get away with ignoring this advice or fudging the numbers. 

3. Agricultural climate pollution must be reduced further and faster. 

Farming is New Zealand’s largest polluting industry, contributing to around half of our country’s emissions. In its current form, the Commission’s plan largely lets agricultural emissions off the hook – it’s the area where planned reductions are most clearly not aligned with 1.5 degree pathways and the plan doesn’t anticipate any reductions in production volumes. What we need to do is make our most polluting industries pay for the damage they are causing, and reinvest that revenue in supporting farmers to diversify land uses. Cutting climate pollution from agriculture should include specific and direct regulations (such as bans and caps) on the sources of pollution, including a sinking cap on cow numbers, synthetic fertiliser and imported feed.  

4. It should redirect investment now away from roads to accelerate the green transition 

We can put much larger direct investment into accelerating the transition in transport and infrastructure. At the moment, the government has spent more on roads and other carbon intensive infrastructure in its Covid recovery spending than on climate friendly initiatives, and Auckland’s 10 year budget for transport being decided on right now is looking like it could do the same. The Commission’s plan only  forecasts $190 million per year to be spent on decarbonisation between now and 2025. There are billions of dollars in planned road and urban sprawl spending that could be redirected right now into building public and active transport, reallocating street space, and retrofitting and building energy efficient and accessible housing. There needs to be clear recommendations so the government can change track before polluting investments are locked in. 

5. It should make life better for all communities as we decarbonise 

It’s critical that taking action to cut our pollution leaves no one behind and takes us closer to a fairer, more equal and just society. The Commission’s report notes lots of ways to mitigate the impact on communities in vulnerable situations, but this needs further work to highlight the opportunities and co-benefits of doing so. One example is the opportunities to build and retrofit housing stock that will address the unacceptable shortage of accessible housing for disabled people; Another is the opportunity for native forests management and planting to move beyond consultation approaches and give management of land back to Maori to uphold Article Two of Te Tiriti or Waitangi. There is no consideration in the report of the adverse impacts of climate change on women and other genders, and the need for gender-responsive climate action. This needs to change. 

Hope that’s been useful! Want to learn more? Read the in-depth submission guide prepared by Oxfam and 10 other organisations here: 

Oxfam response to Climate Commission draft report

Oxfam welcomes the release of the Climate Change Commission’s draft report on cutting New Zealand’s pollution, but says that doing our fair share for 1.5 degrees means much more ambitious action is needed now than the Commission currently recommends.

Oxfam New Zealand Campaigns Lead, Alex Johnston, said: “We can use this report as a launching pad to step up our efforts to tackle global heating, but doing our fair share is going to mean a lot more than tinkering around the edges. We must move faster to get policies implemented.”

Johnston said: “The Commission’s plan  will not meet even our existing Paris Agreement target for 2030, which the Commission themselves found to be inconsistent with global efforts for limiting heating to 1.5 degrees.

“The draft emissions budgets leave the bulk of pollution cuts for later in the 2030s. That means we’re also relying on New Zealand purchasing offshore carbon credits to meet our 2030 Paris target, leaving other nations to make up the shortfall.

“This is a blow to those in the Pacific and other countries on the frontlines of climate change, as New Zealand is burning through much more than our fair share of the remaining carbon budget this decade,” said Johnston.

“We can bring forward a whole lot of the policies the Commission recommends, like no new coal and gas installation anywhere, phasing out gas-guzzling cars, and properly pricing agricultural emissions. What’s more, we can invest the billions we’d have to pay in offshore carbon credits to surge ahead in our domestic transformation with a just transition to a thriving, low-emissions society,” Johnston said.

He added: “This domestic action must go alongside standing with the people who are right now experiencing the impacts of climate breakdown: that means at least doubling our climate finance for those in the Pacific and developing countries worldwide.”

Johnston said it was encouraging to see the Commission’s consideration of global equity in its recommendations to increase New Zealand’s Paris Agreement targets, but that the analysis did not filter through into the domestic emissions budgets that the Commission drafted.

He said: “When we consider New Zealand’s fair share of global efforts to limit heating to 1.5 degrees, our action at home needs to be scaled up. The Commission has rightly placed importance on global equity in the need to boost our international action, but hasn’t yet reflected this in their domestic emissions budgets, which are too low to even meet our current international target.

“If New Zealand is to do our fair share to protect our planet and build a safe climate future, we need a cohesive and ambitious plan with global equity at its heart.” 


Notes to editors:

  • The Commission’s first three emissions budgets use the interquartile range of IPCC 1.5-degree pathways. This assumes that New Zealand would decarbonise at average rate, not taking into account our status as a highly developed country. By contrast, the NDC analysis, finds that Aotearoa should make significantly deeper reductions by 2030 than the average country, due to the country’s economic capacity.
  • The Commission suggested NZ’s Paris Agreement target should be increased to much more than 35% reductions below 2005 levels by 2030. Oxfam’s estimates of New Zealand’s fair share are of at least an 80% reduction below 1990 levels by 2030, or 99% when historical responsibility is taken into account.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Kelsey-Rae Taylor on or +6421 298 5894.