Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Climate Change: Labour abandons the carbon budget

Hipkins held his expected bonfire of the policies today, ditching the RNZ/TVNZ merger, punting hate speech legislation to the Law Commission (which basicly means it will never happen), and dumping the "bougie dole" social insurance scheme. But along the way, he also shitcanned a key part of the government's emissions reduction programme: the biofuels obligation.

How important is this? The 2021 cabinet paper Sustainable biofuels mandate: final policy design noted that (p22):

The mandate is expected to reduce emissions by around 10 MtCO2-e by 2035; contributing about 1.2 – 1.3 MtCO2-e for the first emissions budget, 3.3 to 3.6 MtCO2-e for the second, and 4.6 – 5.8 MtCO2-e for the third.
In context, the transport sector emissions target is ~16.5 MT/year for the first (4 year budget), ~15 MT/year for the second, and ~11 MT/year for the third. So the biofuels obligation was expected to contribute ~45% of our second budget cuts, and ~20% of our annual third budget cuts. This is a significant emissions impact, which will have to be made up. It was also basicly our only policy to deal with heavy transport emissions. And now Labour has thrown it out the window. It will be very interesting to see what the Climate Commission says about it.

When quizzed at the press conference, Hipkins had no idea how he was going to compensate for the extra emissions he has just allowed, and he refused to commit to meeting our future carbon budgets. Which is disappointing. But sadly consistent with their habit of announcing big targets, then chickening out from the actual action required to meet them. But it shows that Labour cannot be relied upon to take climate change seriously, or prioritise emissions cuts over the interests of whiny polluters. For that, we need the Greens.