Media Release: Expensive climate policies have "no effect on emissions" – report

Media release
21 March, 2022

Wellington (Tuesday, 22 March 2022) – New Zealand is already on track to its emissions targets and the government’s new climate change policies will have almost no effect on emissions, says a new report by public policy think tank The New Zealand Initiative.

The report, Pretence of Necessity by Senior Economist Matt Burgess, shows that existing policies are enough and further policies are optional but not necessary to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

“In this year’s Budget, the government will spend more than $2,000 per household based on the mistaken view that more policies are needed to reach emissions targets. They are not,” Mr Burgess says.

The report shows the government’s climate change strategy is based on a misunderstanding of the relationship between the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and other policies.

“The government has already capped emissions with changes to the ETS in 2020. Other policies cannot reduce emissions from under the cap.”

“This is widely recognised including by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” says Burgess.

“So the government’s new policies don’t help. On the contrary, they threaten emissions targets by making them far more difficult and expensive to achieve,” Burgess says.

The report foreshadows the government’s Emissions Reduction Plan, set to be announced later this year. This will be an array of levies, subsidies, regulations and hard bans. The government will say these are urgently required and necessary to combat climate change.

“New Zealanders should be aware the government is demanding sacrifices on false pretences.”

“Future generations will not thank us for borrowing to pay for policies that do not lower emissions.”

“We are witnessing an historic public policy failure.”

The report also proposes alternative policies that improve on existing policies by delivering targets at less cost, saving households money.

“Climate change is real. New Zealand should meet its obligations to cut emissions. We need effective policies to do this.”

Read more:
Pretence of Necessity: Why further climate change action isn't needed and won't help is available here.

Matt Burgess is available for comment. To schedule an interview, please contact:

Ben Craven, External Relations Manager
M: 022 079 2788


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