The government has pledged to cut nett emissions in half by the end of the decade, a significant increase from its previous pledge of 30%.
The target is New Zealand’s contribution to the international Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The government said the pledge equates to a 41 percent reduction in real terms because of the way emissions are counted.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the boost means the country is now pulling its weight, with the pledge bringing it into line with the recommendations of the Climate Change Commission.
“New Zealand’s enhanced contribution to the global effort to fight climate change now represents our fair share, and is in line with what’s needed if we are to avoid the worst impacts of global warming on New Zealand,” Ardern said in a statement.
“Climate change is a priority for the government because it’s a threat to our economy, our environment and our everyday lives. Lifting our commitment is an investment in a stable climate that will benefit us all in the future.”
The announcement comes ahead of the massive UN climate summit in Glasgow which officially kicks off tomorrow evening New Zealand time.
The government has been criticised for some of its plans on climate change action, and delayed the final release of its Emissions Reduction Plan until May 2022.
“This decade is make or break for the planet,” Minister of Climate Change James Shaw said in a statement.
“To stand a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C, the science shows we now have about eight years left to almost halve global greenhouse gas emissions.
“That’s eight years for countries to make the necessary plans, put in place policies, implement them, and ultimately deliver the cuts.
“I am confident we can do it and in doing so open the door to a thriving world that is cleaner, healthier, and more equitable,” Shaw said.