Focus on gross emissions puts Commission plan on wrong track

An unnecessary focus on gross rather than net emissions has put the Climate Change Commission on the wrong track, according to Energy Resources Aotearoa’s submission on the Commission’s draft advice.

“Our sector fully supports the transition to lower emissions and the challenge now is to find the best way to do this,” says Energy Resources’ chief executive John Carnegie.

“Focusing on gross emissions means we are asking New Zealanders to pay more than they should to achieve our net-zero goal.

“This approach leads to a fuel and technology-focus rather than on emissions, which leads to bans and other costly but ultimately unnecessary measures.

“The ETS is clearly the best tool for lowering net emissions. It allows people and businesses to make their own decisions on the best way to lower emissions, it encourages innovation and doesn’t try to second guess which technologies will succeed or fail.

“The Commission’s own modelling shows that modestly increasing the ETS unit price to $50 would result in Aotearoa meeting the net-zero target by 2050, with planting trees an important though temporary part of this.

“With a cap on total emissions, we really don’t need any additional measures like a ban on new gas connections. Bans undermine future technologies which could use existing infrastructure, like hydrogen, bio-gases or even LNG if this is required to provide energy security.

“This is why we need to keep our options open rather than close them off with bans.

“There are some areas where it will be very difficult to decarbonise, such as air travel, certain process heat applications, and electricity firming. In these cases it is better to offset these emissions until new technologies are ready.

“The net result for the climate is the same while keeping jobs and investment in Aotearoa.

“The Commission rightly recognises we will need natural gas until at least 2050 to support renewable electricity sources, but if we undermine the local market then we could end up importing LNG from Australia instead.”

Energy Resources Aotearoa also proposes an industry accord with the Government, which could be a joint commitment to work together on lowering emissions and ensuring a sustainable and prosperous energy resources sector.

The full submission is available at