James Shaw and Grant Robertson fronted the ERP announcement (Image: Tina Tiller)
James Shaw and Grant Robertson fronted the ERP announcement (Image: Tina Tiller)

The BulletinMay 17, 2022

A lot of acronyms, a little less action

James Shaw and Grant Robertson fronted the ERP announcement (Image: Tina Tiller)
James Shaw and Grant Robertson fronted the ERP announcement (Image: Tina Tiller)

The emissions reduction plan was released yesterday. A historic day for those who’ve worked to get climate change on the main agenda, but many are asking whether it goes far enough, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in The Bulletin.

 

What happened yesterday? 

The 348-page emissions reduction plan (ERP – get used to that one) was released. The headline? A $2.9b funding allocation from the $4.5b climate emergency response fund (CERF), paid for by the proceeds of selling carbon credits via the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) over the next four years. So the ETS funds the CERF which is funding the ERP (sorry). Quick recap: The ERP is the plan to make sure we don’t exceed emissions beyond the new carbon budgets set last week. The Zero Carbon Act (2019) committed us to reducing emissions to “net zero” (except biogenic methane) by 2050. That’s in pursuit of preventing warming of the planet by more than 1.5C based on the 2019 Paris Agreement. Handy chart here on what scientists say happens at 1.5C and 2C. James Shaw and Grant Robertson spoke to the plan at the post-cabinet press conference.

What’s in the ERP?

Eloise Gibson from Stuff has a very readable “what’s in, what’s out” here. RNZ have broken down the dollar figures and targets here. Transport is the key focus with a $1.3b allocation, including $569m towards a subsidised car scrapping scheme for low-to-middle income earners. That’s across four years. Only $32m is earmarked over the next two years for a trial. Am sure the Spinoff team weren’t the only ones doing back of the envelope calculations to see how that might actually work but there wasn’t a lot of detail in the plan. There is $710m for agricultural innovation and transition (despite the sector not contributing to the ETS which funds the plan) and $1b over seven years to help the energy sector decarbonise. Some of that is coming from other funds though.

What’s not?

Carrots and sticks were popular yesterday. Newsroom’s Marc Daalder went with it as a headline in his detailed analysis calling it for the carrots, weighted towards incentives rather than disincentives. Many of the climate commission’s recommendations were missing. There was no confirmed congestion charging, no ban on new fossil gas connections to homes and no ban on the import of fossil fuel vehicles by 2035. Continuing the public transport discount didn’t make it either but perhaps it will be in the budget on Thursday.  Stuff have analysed the 284 listed actions in the plan and found half are what Henry Cooke calls “plans to make plans”.

Reactions

On the whole, the consensus seems to be that the very existence of a plan is historic and significant. Judgements on the actual actions outlined however are very mixed. Federated Farmers and Business NZ seem happy about it which optimistically suggests there is broad acceptance of the need for action on climate change. Pessimistically it suggests that the plan hasn’t gone far enough. Greenpeace renamed the plan the “Ridiculous Omissions Plan”, calling out its failure to address agricultural emissions. Thomas Coughlan (paywalled at The Herald) had a succinct summary that also managed to be existential. “This plan tries to strip emissions from our current way of life, ignoring difficult questions over whether we need to change our current way of life to reduce emissions.” Bernard Hickey called it “tame, tentative and too thin”.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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