Thursday, 13 July 2017

A new approach to emissions trading in a post-Paris climate

This article was prepared by Suzi Kerr, Catherine Leining and Ceridwyn Roberts at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research. It was first published on The Conversation.

Despite the US withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, other countries, including New Zealand, remain committed to cutting their greenhouse gas emissions.

In our report, we explore how New Zealand, a trailblazer for emissions trading, might drive a low-emission transformation, both at home and overseas.

Turning off the tap

Emitting greenhouse gases is a lot like overflowing a bathtub. Even a slow trickle will eventually flood the room.

The Paris Agreement gives all countries a common destination: net zero emissions during the second half of the century. It is also an acknowledgement that the world has only a short time to turn the tide on emissions and limit global temperature rise to below two degrees. The sooner we turn down the tap, the more time we have for developing solutions.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Retooling the emissions trading scheme to ‘decarbonise’ NZ

There are practical ways to change the NZ ETS so it delivers clear and predictable emission price signals. This would ensure that New Zealand’s emitters reduce their greenhouse gases more quickly than is currently happening.  

A new paper released today by Motu Economic and Public Policy Research suggests a package of changes to improve the NZ ETS. The proposal emerged from discussions over the past year among diverse cross-sector experts involved in Motu’s ETS Dialogue. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

New report highlights need for coastal homeowners, government, and the insurance industry to plan for climate change

by Susan Livengood, Director of Partnerships for the Deep South National Science Challenge.

As New Zealand counts the cost of widespread flooding this month, a new report identifies key questions we need to answer to better prepare our coastal communities for climate change.

The Insurance, housing and climate adaptation report, commissioned by the Deep South National Science Challenge, highlights issues New Zealand may face as it grapples with “increasingly severe risks” for coastal housing – particularly sea level rise which is expected to exacerbate the frequency and impacts of flooding and storm surges.

It was hard not to think of this report as I drove along the Thames Coast Road in the wake of last week’s storms. Huge boulders lay on the road, pohutukawa trees ripped from the earth by landslides lay dying in the sea, and the splash of waves on the road reminded me just how susceptible to sea level rise this area is.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

International transfers of mitigation to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement

By Suzi Kerr (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research) and Mike Toman (World Bank)

More than a year has passed since the signing of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in which developed, emerging and developing countries across the world have pledged to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) as a start toward limiting dangerous climate change. Under the Agreement, countries can work together to reduce emissions. 

Mike Toman, a Lead Economist in the World Bank’s Development Research Group, and Motu’s Suzi Kerr have come up with three basic guidelines for financing of emissions reductions in less economically advanced countries:
1. Do not conflate “international carbon markets” with “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes.”
2. Be cautious about the apparent gains from linking emissions trading markets.
3. Create contracts between developed and developing country governments for internationally transferred mitigation obligations.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Assessing the impacts of Motu’s Low-Emission Future Programme

by Catherine Leining, Ceridwyn Roberts, and Suzi Kerr of Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust.

In November 2016, Motu surveyed 360 people interested in climate change policy and had 81 responses. The survey was designed to help assess the impacts of Motu’s programme ‘Shaping New Zealand’s Low-Emission Future’ and its cross-stakeholder Emissions Trading Scheme and Low-Emission Future Dialogues as well as inform future programme planning. As a ‘thank you’ to all those who took part Motu will purchase and plant six trees through the Wellington City Council’s ‘Two Million Trees’ initiative.

We feel encouraged that more than three quarters of respondents agree or strongly agree that Motu’s work has enhanced the quality of policy discussion on climate change mitigation and that more than four fifths of respondents regard Motu as a credible source of independent expert information on climate change mitigation.

Monday, 19 December 2016

New emissions reduction plan business as usual

By Ralph Sims. Reprinted with permission from Carbon News

The Government’s plan to cut the emissions intensity from industrial heat generation  by 1 per cent a year is just business as usual, and will do little to achieve New Zealand’s Paris Agreement commitment.

Ralph Sims is Professor of Massey University’s School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, an IPCC lead author and consultant to the International Energy Agency. He is an expert on renewable energy deployment and policies, distributed energy (including smart grids), biomass supply chains and bioenergy conversion, biofuels for transport andclimate change and renewable energy scenarios.

There is a major disconnect between New Zealand’s international commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement and the recently released draft for consultation of the NZ Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy for 2017 to 2022.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Forestry in the Emissions Trading Scheme

by Tom Carver, Motu Intern

The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) is “the Government’s principal policy response to climate change”.[1] It has been operational since 2008; however, much of the information and data that is are necessary to evaluate its performance and model the future evolution of the ETS and its implications for meeting future targets haves not been publicly released by the government. 

Earlier this year Motu requested information on:
  • Clarification for how forestry will be accounted for under New Zealand’s Paris INDC targets, and any associated modelling;
  • Forecasts of afforestation, emissions and removals from ETS registered forests;
  • Extra details on forestry that had not yet been made public:
  1. Age and size profile for ETS registered forests;
  2. Area weighted average age of deforestation for pre-1990 forests;
  3. Region, age and species of land removed from the ETS;
  4. Other technical details: The extent of ETS exemptions for tree weeds and owners with less than 50 hectares of pre-1990 forest, distinctions between data reporting in voluntary vs. mandatory returns, forest area involved in forest offsetting provisions (enabling landowners to avoid ETS deforestation liabilities if they establish a comparable forest elsewhere), and the proportion of NZUs in the ETS bank that are attached to future liabilities for post-1989 forest.
MPI officials withheld information on the first point on the grounds that negotiations for these rules are still being finalised after the Paris agreement last year and that these are therefore sensitive. The information they provided is available on the Motu website.