The Climate Change Commission has published its advice to Government on how New Zealand should meet its 2050 climate change targets, advising it to focus on reduce carbon use, as well as soaking it up with trees.
In a shift from the current approach, which has focussed on absorbing carbon by planting trees, the Commission’s latest report places a greater emphasis on reducing carbon use at its source, warning against using trees as an excuse to delay investment in new infrastructure and clean energy sources.
Saying that, the report proposes significant increases in plantings as a sink to deal with carbon in difficult sectors, like cement, steel, etc, and recommends doubling the area of permanent forests to increase CO2 absorbtion from 6.5 Mt / Yr in 2025, to 13.5 Mt / Yr by 2035.
The report advises that half of this new forest should be native species and that ‘strong action’ is needed to scale establishment of native forestry from its current planting level of 12,000 ha/yr, to 25,000 ha /yr, by 2030. It notes that the industry needs support to adapt to increase the supply of seedlings to meet this future demand.
Other recommendations that may impact the plant production industry are:
- A ban on new coal and gas heating systems from 2025, with a complete transition to electricity and biomass heating by 2050.
- The transition to electric vehicles, starting with a ban on new petrol / diesel vehicles from 2035.
- Changing the layout of urban areas to encourage walking & cycling with high quality urban / landscape design.
- Encourage a circular economy for reusable materials (including plastics).
- A review of the Emissions Trading Scheme to encourage permanent forest, including financial incentives to improve ecosystem services through plantings.
- Bizarrely, the report discourages the development of horticulture, raising concerns about its water use and environmental impact.
While the report presents a lot of opportunity for parts of our industry, it signals the beginning of a phase of significant change and adaptation.
This is a draft report to the Government and is by no means policy. NZPPI will continue to analyse the report and consider the implications of the proposals on Plant Producers. We will participate in the consultation & submission process and keep our members updated.