Govt sets emissions reduction target of 50 percent by 2050
The Government is setting a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 50 percent by 2050, which Labour says is meaningless window dressing.
Climate Change Minister Nick Smith announced the target at the weekend, saying it would be gazetted under the Climate Change Response Act.
"We acknowledge it is difficult to look 40 years forward but the nature of the climate change problem requires we think and plan for the long term," he said.
"We believe a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050, or in short -50 by 50, is a realistic but credible target for New Zealand."
Dr Smith said the target would require New Zealand to reduce net emissions by 31 million tonnes a year.
"This is a very big ask when nearly half our emissions come from agriculture and when we already produce 70 percent of our electricity from renewables," he said.
"It will only be achievable with major technological innovations in areas like agriculture and transport, which are quite possible over this timeframe."
He said the target wasn't set in stone and would need to be regularly reviewed, taking into account the latest scientific advice on climate change, progress made by other nations and progress in the development of new technologies.
The target was compatible with those of other countries, he said.
Dr Smith said submissions on the proposed target could be made to the Ministry for the Environment up to February 28.
Labour's environment spokesman, Charles Chauvel, said any government could set a 2050 target without worrying about whether it would be around to fulfil it.
"What counts is a 2020 reduction target, and Nick Smith and (Climate Change Negotiations Minister) Tim Groser refused to set one for New Zealand when asked to do so last month at the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico," he said.
"They refused because they simply can't set a 2020 target. Every measure they've taken since coming into office has set New Zealand on a course for more, not less, greenhouse gas pollution."
Mr Chauvel said if Dr Smith was serious about reducing emissions he would have put both a 2020 and a 2050 emissions reduction target into legislation.