Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill

James Shaw introduces the Zero Carbon, Amendment Bill. Setting out binding emissions targets. It’s a long way ahead, but will hopefully herald change.


In the wake of the Paris Agreement of 2015, NZ along with 196 other countries, agreed to make ambitious cuts in greenhouse gas emissions consistent with holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Some countries have agreed to cut their emissions at a faster rate than New Zealand.  We have taken a conservative approach, but at least it’s a promise for the future.

Buildings have a significant role to play in bringing about a low carbon economy. A report by Thinkstep showed that the construction and operation of buildings are responsible for around 20% of our domestic emissions (net of emissions from traded goods). About half of this is from the construction of buildings and a half from operations.

Most New Zealand businesses (including signatories to the Climate Leaders Coalition) will have a significant proportion of their emissions from buildings that they own or lease.  NZ Green Building Council (NZGBC) think the time is right to release standards specifically relating to achieving net zero carbon. It is in this context that the NZGBC existing tools, Green Star, Homestar, and NABERS have put a central focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

What the Bill does:

  • Implements a framework for actions for New Zealand’s contribution to ensure no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming above pre-industrial levels;
  • Commits the Government to reduce New Zealand’s long-lived greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.  Which will likely involve offsets such as forestry, and biogenic methane (i.e. agricultural) emissions by 10% of 2017 levels by 2030. There will be a further reduction range of between 24% and 47% of 2017 levels by 2050. However, this range is subject to a review by the Climate Change Commission in 2024 that will consider any future scientific developments;
  • Establishes an Independent Climate Change Commission, which will be made up of 7 members. They will give independent advice on what action needs to be taken and when; and
  • Legally binds the Government into planning for adaption to the increasingly severe weather events that New Zealand is experiencing due to climate change.


How will it enforce these targets?

The main enforcement mechanism is envisioned to be the Emissions Trading Scheme.

The Future of the Bill?

The Ministry for the Environment expects the Bill to go to the Select Committee in the second half of 2019, and the amended Act to come into force in late 2019.

The big impact?

Construction and other Industries will need to achieve zero net emissions of greenhouse gases in a calendar year, other than biogenic methane, beginning on 1 January 2050 (for those still around) and then for each subsequent calendar year.


More information here: