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Gazetting New Zealand’s 2050 Emissions Target

2011: This paper from the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Climate Expert Panel is a response to the Ministry for the Environment's position paper on New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions target.

View the paper here

In their position paper, the Government proposed a 50% cut in emissions by 2050; the Society highlighted research suggesting that industrialised nations will need to cut emissions by 80 to 95% if dangerous climate change is to be avoided.

New Zealand has made commitments to limit greenhouse gases since the 1992 UNFCCC treaty. Part of our contribution to the international effort to address climate change includes our commitments under the Kyoto and Cancun agreements to set and keep to greenhouse gas emissions targets. Previous governments have set aspiration targets of zero net carbon emissions; the current Government in January asked for comment on their proposed target of a 50% cut in emissions by 2050.

The Society’s submission follows the language of the Cancun agreement, requesting that our target should be chosen to be “consistent with science and on the basis of equity”. This requires discussion of emissions targets to make explicit the allowed chances of exceeding targets for temperature rise. The submission highlights numerous studies of equitable distributions of emissions cuts which suggest that industrialised nations should make 80 to 95% cuts by 2050. The Society hopes to see a new target for substantial reductions.