What is the Climate Change Commission?

If you’ve been following climate news in NZ lately you may have seen some drama about the Climate Change Commission (CCC). 

The CCC is a group of experts appointed to give the government independent, evidence-based advice on climate issues. There are eight commissioners with expertise in areas such as climate science, mitigation and adaptation, agriculture, policy, migration, economics, ecology, international affairs, Te Tiriti, heath and more. They are a smart bunch of people and know a lot more than the government – hence the government asks them for advice. 

The CCC also makes submissions to the government, just like POW does (although theirs are likely to be much more in depth and regarded more importantly). Some submissions the CCC have made recently include those on the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), waste reduction strategy, climate adaptation, and agriculture emissions. 

Recently the CCC has advised the government on improvements that should be made to the ETS, such as increasing the carbon price, so it could be more effective and actually help incentivise emissions reductions. The government however chose to ignore that advice, thinking more about short-term rising petrol prices than about sending long term price signals to reduce GHG emissions. This was one of many backpedals on climate policy made recently by the government, confidence in their climate ambitions is failing, and the most recent auction of ETS credits failed. 

The commission reprimanded the government saying: “Weakening… climate policy in general during times of adverse economic conditions, which climate change is only likely to exacerbate, is not sustainable in the long run and will greatly compromise our chance of meeting the climate change targets.”

The CCC advises on NZ’s emissions budgets – how much greenhouse gas we’re allowed to emit as a nation over a 5 year period:

Budget 1 (2022–2025): 290 megatonnes of CO2 (72.4 megatonnes/year)

Budget 2 (2026–2030): 305 megatones (61 megatonnes/year)

Budget 3 (2031–2035): 240 megatonnes (48 megatonnes/year)

By the end of 2023 the CCC needs to finalise it’s advice to government about how to meet the emissions target of the second budget. They’ve released their draft advice – a roadmap for how the government can meet these emissions targets. There are 19 pieces of advice in total with especially relevant ones being: 

– Reducing emissions from transport by shifting how NZer’s get around. More walking, cycling and public transport networks. This means changing urban form so these options are available to as many people as possible. 

– Retrofitting and electrifying of homes and buildings to make them warmer, healthier, and not use fossil fuels 

– Incentivising gross emissions reductions from agriculture, not just planting more exotic trees

The CCC would like input from the public to help strengthen this roadmap. Submissions are open until the 20th of June. POW will be meeting with the CCC on June 2nd and will be making a submission too – let us know if there are things you’d like us to make in our submission. 

Lawyers for Climate Action NZ (LCANZ) took the CCC to court last year because they found that the Commission’s advice was inconsistent with its statutory framework and that as a result its advice is far less ambitious than it needs to be. They didn’t win this battle but have now filed another judicial review regarding the Commission’s advice not being followed as a result the ETS auction failing. 

POW supports LCANZ. We need every sector and every community (such as the outdoor community and the law community. raising their voice on the need for climate action

Photo: Lynn Grieveson via Getty Images