NZ, Aussie state release plans to lower carbon usage

WELLINGTON/MELBOURNE • New Zealand put forward a raft of carbon-cutting plans yesterday, ranging from reduced car usage to making e-bikes more accessible to meet its target of becoming carbon-zero by 2050.

But the proposals, which come ahead of the COP26 climate meeting of world leaders in Glasgow and are a forerunner to the government's emissions reduction plan next May, drew immediate criticism.

New Zealand is under pressure to do more to curb carbon emissions, which are increasing, but the discussion document made little mention of agriculture which contributes 48 per cent of its greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmental group Greenpeace said the document was "full of meaningless waffle" that did little to broach the conversation on reducing agricultural emissions. Climate activists Generation Zero called it a "disgrace" that failed to meet "unambitious emissions budgets, completely ignores agriculture - which makes up half of our emissions".

However, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said there was "an entire work programme" dealing with the agricultural sector and "we didn't want to waste people's time by including things that have either already been consulted on or have other kind of engagement processes elsewhere".

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the plans would reduce emissions and "can also create jobs and new opportunities for Kiwi businesses and our economy".

The document comes almost two years after New Zealand passed its Zero Carbon Act and a year after it declared a climate emergency.

Ms Ardern has previously described action on climate change as a matter of "life or death" but has been called out by Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who accused New Zealand of being "one of the world's worst performers" on emission increases.

Meanwhile, Australia's New South Wales (NSW) state has said it would offer A$3 billion (S$2.99 billion) in incentives to attract hydrogen projects to the country's biggest coal-exporting state as it races to slash its carbon emissions.

State treasurer and energy minister Matt Kean said the plan would not only help the state halve its carbon emissions by 2030 but would also create opportunities for heavy industry and boost the economy by more than A$600 million over that period.

"Our major trading partners see hydrogen as part of their energy future. This state has the skills, infrastructure and renewable energy resources to compete globally in this new industry," NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said in a statement.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2021, with the headline 'NZ, Aussie state release plans to lower carbon usage'. Subscribe