Watch: Climate Change Minister Simon Watts gives strategy announcement

Climate Change Minister Simon Watts has outlined the government’s climate strategy and its five pillars at an event in Auckland.

Watts said the three-page strategy was a “comprehensive” and “ambitious” plan. It aimed to reduce the impacts of climate change and prepare for its future effects.

“The strategy is built on five core pillars and underscores the government’s commitment to delivering on our climate change goals,” Watts said.

The five core pillars are:

  • infrastructure is resilient and communities are well prepared
  • credible markets support the climate transition
  • clean energy is abundant and affordable
  • world-leading climate innovation boosts the economy
  • nature-based solutions address climate change

The document included an introduction by Watts, the five “pillars”, and a reiteration of various climate targets the government has signed up to.

Each of the five pillars was accompanied by three aspirational bullet points (e.g. “The costs of reducing emissions are minimised”) arising from the core goal set out in each pillar, but gave no explanation as to how all this would be achieved.

“Those five key areas are what is going to turn the dial in regards to the ability for us to achieve those outcomes, it sets the strategic framing for the emissions reduction plan that will come in the next few weeks,” Watts said.

He said the government would begin consultation on its Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) for 2026 through to 2030 within the next two weeks, and possibly sooner.

“The Emissions Reduction Plan will set out policy proposals across the five pillars and focus on the largest drivers of emissions in New Zealand – energy, transport, agriculture, and waste sectors.”

The plan is a legislative requirement, and sets out how the government will go about achieving the reductions demanded by New Zealand’s international commitments.

The first ERP was unveiled by the previous Labour government in 2022.

“We want to be transparent and clear with New Zealanders in regards to the options that we have available to hit our targets, what we’re going to focus on, and how much impact each of those initiatives will deliver.”

Watts’ climate announcement followed two by Energy Minister Simeon Brown the previous day, of a new draft framework for carbon capture, and a watering down of standards aimed at improving fuel efficiency – and therefore emissions.

That second change came after lobbying from the petrol and diesel car industry that the clean car changes went too far.

Watts said the aim of the change was to bring New Zealand’s standards in line with Australia’s, and would have a comparatively small effect on emissions.

“Clean car standards … in terms of overall impact, have quite a insignificant impact,” he said.

He was speaking at Vessev, a company in Auckland which aims to make efficient electric boats and ships that use the same hydrofoiling technology that was used by Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup.

He said Vessev was a prime example of New Zealand innovation that would help support the government’s climate change goals.

“New Zealand is blessed with talent, we have huge amounts of opportunities, not only in terms of the clean tech behind which will provide solutions for transportation on water, but our agritech sector as well is a significant area which will drive emissions reduction for livestock in particular, and that is a key area that we want to ensure we push as well.”

Watts said climate change could often be seen as a challenge, and a difficult area, but he did not want to view it that way.

“I think the way in which I want to frame climate change is: yes, while it is challenging, it also presents New Zealanders with a significant opportunity, and an opportunity to play to our strengths.”

He said this included producing innovative technology that had low emissions and could be exported overseas to help other economies transition to a low-carbon economy as well, such as with what Vessev was doing.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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