BEIJING, Oct 24 (Reuters Point Carbon) – New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are set to rise nearly 50 percent by 2040, according to new government modelling, taking the country well off course to meet its commitment to cut emissions in half by mid-century.
A report from the ministry of environment showed the country’s net emissions are expected to grow to nearly 90 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2040 from current levels of around 60 million, while the government target is to bring emissions down to 30 million tonnes by 2050.
“The trend in net emissions is dominated by our projections of emissions and removals from forestry,” the report said.
A large number of CO2-absorbing trees planted in the country in the 1990s are set to be harvested at the end of this decade, meaning overall emissions are likely to rise throughout the 2020s, it added.
Asked by the Green Party in parliament about the projections on Wednesday, Simon Bridges, associate minister for climate change, said emissions were projected to rise because of current low carbon prices in the country’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
Critics have said New Zealand’s carbon market is too weak to incentivise forest-planting, with carbon prices so low that foresters make more profit chopping down trees to sell the timber.
“We know that as we make progress in international (climate change) negotiations, that carbon price will surely rise,” Bridges said.
“The emissions trading scheme is a long-term tool, and it is not hard to imagine that with a good outcome on a new global agreement and leadership from the major economies, we will need to adjust our own domestic policy response, as well.”
Domestic emissions permits in the New Zealand ETS currently trade at NZ$3.75 ($3.15), but companies are also allowed to comply by buying U.N.-backed carbon credits, which are available for only 30 cents each.
The New Zealand government last year removed legislation that would have forced big companies to pay for a bigger share of their emissions and restrict access to international credits – both moves that would have driven up carbon prices.
It also put on hold indefinitely including in the scheme emissions from agriculture, which accounts for nearly 50 percent of New Zealand’s emissions.
“It is policy incoherence of this breath-taking dimension that wins us fossil awards at the U.N. conferences – with Warsaw beckoning next month,” said Greens MP Kennedy Graham on his blog on Wednesday.
He was referring to the infamous prizes awarded by green groups at U.N. climate negotiations to the countries they deem to be failing to act to tackle climate change.
The main annual meeting takes place next month in Poland, where countries will be tasked with making progress towards a 2015 global pact to bind all nations into curbing emissions from 2020.
A spokesman for Climate Change Minister Tim Groser told Reuters on Thursday that the government had no plans to reform the nation’s carbon market.
He said government will continue to fund research on greenhouse gases from food production.
“The Government is investing $45 million into the Global Research Alliance on Greenhouse Gases, bringing together 40 countries to find ways to grow more food without growing greenhouse gas emissions,” he added.
10/24/2013 – 00:00