How ministers and officials developed the first emissions reduction plan – and how to do it better next time
Cyclone Gabrielle damage, February 2023, Hawke's Bay; Leonie Clough, Unsplash
New Zealand’s first emissions reduction plan (ERP) was released in May 2022. This plan, required by the Climate Change Response Act 2002, outlines how New Zealand will meet its emissions reduction budgets. It must include sector-specific policies, a multi-sector strategy to meet emissions budgets and a strategy to mitigate the impacts of reductions on New Zealanders.
To inform future efforts, the Commissioner has reviewed how the first ERP was put together. His investigation asked what worked well, what could be improved, the kinds of direction ministers needed from officials and how advice to decision makers could be improved.
This report does not review the content of the ERP, nor does it review how the Climate Change Commission performed its role in providing advice. It does, however, look at how the Climate Change Commission’s advice influenced the way the Government went about devising the ERP.
The process of pulling together the first ERP was a complex business, made more difficult by being undertaken in the middle of a pandemic. Officials worked on its development under trying circumstances.
Ultimately, they were able to provide ministers – and New Zealand – with reasonable confidence that the actions contained in the first ERP could plausibly meet our first emissions budgets, as they were required to do. But the process, and the Government’s underlying approach, could have been more focused and smoother.
The report aims to ensure that there is a consistent and robust process for future ERPs, regardless of who is in government.
The Commissioner has identified seven recommendations to ensure that future ERP processes are more coherent and coordinated. The recommendations reinforce and add to the positive improvements already underway in preparing for the second plan.