Following the third reading of the Zero Carbon Amendment Bill in the House on 7 November 2019, Royal Assent is anticipated in the near future. With the enactment of the Bill, New Zealand now has a framework for a transition to a low-emissions, climate-resilient future:

*             The Bill sets a new greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to reduce emissions of biogenic methane to within the range of 24-47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050 and reduce all other greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050.

*             It also establishes an interim target for biogenic methane of a 10 per cent reduction below 2017 levels by 2030.

*             It establishes a system of emissions budgets that will act as stepping stones towards these targets, and requires the Government to develop and implement policies for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

*             The Bill also establishes the new, independent Climate Change Commission which will provide expert advice and monitoring to keep successive governments on track to meeting the target.

The Climate Change Commission will provide independent advice to Government on issues such as emissions budgets, emissions reduction plans, and making sure the 2050 target remains appropriate over time.

The Ministry for the Environment will support the Minister for Climate Change in considering the Commission’s advice, including setting the emissions budgets and developing the emissions reduction plans. There will be a transitional period to 2021 to get the provisions under the Act up and running.

The Ministry has also begun work on the first National Climate Change Risk Assessment. The Government will use it to prioritise action to reduce risks or take advantage of opportunities through a national adaptation plan.

Work on establishing the Climate Change Commission has already begun; it is expected to be up and running by mid-December 2019.