Aim low enough and you’re sure to miss the point completely

New Zealand’s Climate Change Minister, Tim Groser, yesterday announced the government’s new carbon emissions reduction target: an 11% reduction below 1990 emission levels by 2030. Far from being “a significant increase on our current target“, it’s a pathetic increase from our pathetic existing target — a 5% reduction by 2020 — and it gives us an extra decade of humming and hawing.

Let’s consider two points: Firstly, if we want a reasonable chance of keeping global warming below 2°C, we can only emit another 1,000 billion to 1,200 billion tonnes of carbon globally. At current emission rates we’re set to blow that budget within 30 years. In fact, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change, we need to immediately start reducing emissions by 5.5% per year in order to keep within this budget. (Note that 2°C of warming makes for a pretty hellish future and that “a reasonable chance” actually means we have a one in three chance of exceeding that limit 2°C even if we stay within the carbon budget — sounds great, right?)

Secondly, on a per capita basis, New Zealand is the 5th highest emitter of greenhouse gases among industrial nations worldwide, despite already generating almost 80% of our electricity using renewable energy sources, so we really ought to be pulling our weight when it comes reducing carbon emissions.

It’s obvious that our new carbon emissions targets don’t cut the mustard. While the world desperately needs change, New Zealand’s government wants to send us merrily down the path of business-as-usual, continuing to emit way more greenhouse gases than we have any right to.

Adding insult to injury, Tim Groser blatantly ignored the 16,000 submissions from New Zealanders calling for strong emission reduction targets because he reckons they aren’t “representative of New Zealanders’ views.” Honestly, there’s no arguing with that kind of logic!