At first glance the Government's 30% reduction target appears to align with the majority of submitters who urged in the consultation for ambitious cuts of up to 40% below 1990 levels to prevent dangerous climate change. However, the baseline year for the 30% reduction is 2005, which equates to a target of only reducing emissions to 11% below 1990 levels.
However unlike the US who have ruled out the use of international units to help them meet their target, NZ has made its target contingent upon the unrestricted access to global carbon markets. In addition its target is provisional until accounting rules for the land sector including forestry are finalised. A change in forestry accounting methods can lead to significant shifts in a country's carbon books. This has relevance for NZ which is facing a significant rise in emissions under current UN rules from the large scale harvest of its post-1989 forest estate due to start from 2025.
While the Government has reaffirmed NZ's pledge to reduce emissions 50% below 1990 levels by 2050, it is difficult to see how this can be achieved with such an unambitious 2030 target.
More information on the post-2020 climate change target can be found at the Ministry for the Environment website here.