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A shift toward a low emissions economy is paramount to ensuring the environment is protected for years and decades to come. Reducing the effects of climate change not only protects the environment, it also helps safeguard the world’s most vulnerable people. You can take action on environmental issues here.

In an environmental step in the right direction, New Zealand has just released an all-inclusive proposal that details how the nation could work towards a low emissions economy by 2050.

Entitled "The Productivity Commission Low Emissions Economy Report," the compelling proposal was commissioned by the Labour Government after the nation's National and Labour parties struggled to come to an emissions reduction agreement, despite a two-year process of consensus building and a decade of debate. 

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The proposal reveals that even in the midst of a volatile and uncertain global environment, it is possible for New Zealand’s economy to remain competitive while reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all industries.

To achieve its targets, the scheme calls for an extensive climate change policy framework, a reform of the current New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme, increased funds toward climate technology and innovation, and a "rapid and comprehensive" switch from petrol cars to electric vehicles.

Productivity Commission Chairman Murray Sherwin revealed the transition towards a low emissions economy by 2050 would be “challenging but achievable”.

"New Zealand's total emissions may be small in the global context, but all nations, however small, are contributors to the climate change problem and therefore must be contributors to the solution,” he stated. "Firm and steady political leadership, including broad agreement across the political spectrum on both the need, and the means, to make the transition is required. Done well, the transition to low emissions can be the catalyst to lift our overall economic, social, and environmental outcomes.”

James Shaw, New Zealand's minister for climate change, responded to the report by stating the findings reinforced that climate action is urgently required.

"The report highlights many areas we are already working on, including establishing an independent Climate Change Commission and improving New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme,” he stated. “It also makes clear that delaying action is likely to make the transition more costly, more of a shock for communities, and will limit our options. The government will now consider the Commission’s report together with other advice on how we can move to a low emissions economy.”

Despite the majority of New Zealand's electricity being sourced from renewables, the nation sits amongst the highest per person greenhouse gas emitters globally. A disproportionate level of emissions stem from the country's transport and dairy industry.

The government, however, has already taken steps towards emission reductions. The Labour Party recently announced $100 million dollars would be pledged to the currently developing Green Investment Fund, which will encourage private capital for low emissions activity. $15 million dollars was also allocated to support the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund, set to launch next month. 

The government is expected to fully respond to the reports clear direction and recommendations in the coming months.


Defend the Planet

New Zealand Releases Extensive Plan to Achieve a Low Emissions Economy by 2050

By Madeleine Keck