Climate Change Action

The science is clear - we need to get carbon emissions to zero or face unprecedented global warming. But if the rest of the world can’t get their act together, then New Zealand needs to be prepared to do both on its own. TOP believes New Zealand needs to reduce its carbon emissions AND prepare for epic warming.

There are several major sources of greenhouse gases in this country which all need to be tackled head-on. Urban development, transport infrastructure, vehicles, process heat, agriculture, and electricity generation. If all that seems a bit daunting, don’t panic, we’ve reviewed all the evidence for you, and we have a plan.

In collaboration with our Biodiversity and Freshwater policies, TOP will:

  • Build denser cities around public and active transport networks as per our policy for Sustainable Housing and Urban Development.
  • Alter the Building Code to allow energy-efficient materials to be imported into New Zealand, and ensure the building industry has the skills to use them.
  • Stop politicising infrastructure decisions and commit to a net-zero emissions future now. After all, we are stuck with transport infrastructure decisions for a long time.
  • Broaden the remit of the Electricity Authority to include reducing emissions.
  • Double the price of carbon and phase out free credits. This will incentivise companies to move away from burning coal for process heat and also generate $1b per year to reinvest in the rest of this plan.
  • Only use the offsets gained from tree planting for offsetting agricultural emissions.
  • Introduce incentives from the government and the financial sector for households and businesses to be energy smart.
  • Increase investment into initiatives such as planting riverbanks and erosion-prone land, using waste wood, producing and using biomass, regenerative agriculture, and optimal electricity demand management techniques.
  • Remove Fringe Benefits Tax from electric vehicles (including e-bikes and public transport).
  • Invest in Research & Development to figure out the optimal way forward for moving freight using the roads, rail and shipping.

Whilst other countries continue to point fingers at each other, we know TOP policy will put New Zealand in the best place to withstand the economic impacts of continued global warming and reduce our carbon emissions, and we want to get started today!

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Page last updated on 24-Sep 2020


TOP and The Greens share the same aim of a zero carbon economy by 2050, however TOP wants to get there in the most efficient way possible. We want to use a price mechanism – the Emissions Trading Scheme – to incentivise change. The price of carbon will rise to reflect the challenge we have in reducing our emissions as per the 2030 target. The revenue generated will be redirected into growing trees (particularly on erosion prone land) and improving energy efficiency in households and businesses.

By contrast the Greens are suggesting a carbon tax (with a fixed price, which will be less effective at changing behaviour) and will return all revenue in tax cuts. 

A bad builder always blame his tools. The ETS is just a tool, and it is only as good as the person wielding it. The problem with the ETS is that the National Government allowed it to become polluted by cheap, fraudulent, foreign junk carbon credits from the Ukraine and Russia. New Zealand was the largest user of these credits per capita which put our money in the hands of foreign criminals, devastated our ETS, increased emissions and caused forests to be cut down and converted to dairy. It is a shameful record.

Regulation and taxes are also tools, and can also be misused and abused in the wrong hands. 

Science is rarely conclusive. However, the scientific consensus is that it is more than 95% likely to be man made. Delaying action on the basis of a less than 5% chance could end up being a very expensive strategy. And if you don’t believe the scientific consensus then you’re on the wrong website. 

Climate change isn’t going away, so we will need to be fossil fuel free by 2050. The longer we delay the greater the cost of transition will become. We will also miss out on potential business opportunities that will appear during the transition.

The actions we are suggesting to start with make sense to do regardless of reducing emissions; planting erosion prone land will stabilise soil and improve water quality, while improving the energy efficiency of households and businesses will save everyone money and make us more competitive. What’s not to like? 

We don’t favour any particular technology that might help us get rid of fossil fuels. It is all about getting the right incentives in place and letting people decide what to do. At the moment solar may be economic in some parts of New Zealand but generally there are better investments we can make to reduce emissions.