Thursday, December 23, 2021

Climate Change: Dragging their feet again

In June 2020 the government finally took some concrete action on climate change, repealing an odious provision in the RMA which prevented local authorities from considering it in resource consent decisions. It was a good move, which meant that big polluters like the Huntly power station or Glenbrook steel mill or Methanex's methanol plants could be forced to adopt new technology to reduce their emissions, or to offset them with native forest, or even denied resource consent altogether if it was not practical to do so. Of course, implementation was delayed until the end of this year, but now the government has decided that that's too soon to start cutting emissions, and delayed it by the maximum amount possible, until November 2022:

The government has quietly delayed by a year a deadline for councils to consider climate gas emissions when deciding whether to grant consents.


Changes to the Resource Management Act slated for the end of the year would have made regional councils take climate emissions into account when making rules and giving permission for businesses to use industrial fossil fuel boilers.

Cabinet has now agreed to delay that until 30 November 2022, subject to final Cabinet approval.

In an email update to submitters, the Environment Ministry says the reason for the delay is to give time to work out how to treat greenhouse gas emissions that do not come from industrial heat processes while work is still being doing to complete the RMA reforms underway.

James Shaw is right: this fails to show the urgency we need in cutting emissions. Instead, despite having declared a climate emergency, Labour is pursuing the same old Augustinian climate policy: they want to cut emissions, but not just yet.