Failing to see the forest for the trees

27 Mar 2019

The latest report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment would result in upheaval for New Zealand’s environmental settings, BusinessNZ says.

The report calls for New Zealand’s zero carbon emissions target to be substantially toughened to become a gross zero carbon target (not net), although with a longer timeframe than by 2050.

The report also recommends that under the emissions trading system, forestry offsets should only be allowed for short-lived gases like methane.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope said changing the zero carbon timeframe was a realistic recommendation, along with differentiating between short-lived and long-lived gases and the need to think holistically about water, soil and biodiversity objectives - but restricting forestry offsets was not helpful.

“If New Zealand’s heavy emitter industries are no longer able to use trees as an offset, with the absence of international units, they will be greatly disadvantaged compared with businesses in other countries.”

He said the recommendations would disrupt the operation of the emissions trading system and undercut the work that had been done to improve the role of forestry in the scheme.

“New Zealand has been a global leader in promoting the carbon-sequestering power of forestry and helping landowners change land use to leverage that power.

“Nobbling this vital part of our sustainability system would be like failing to see the forest for the trees.”