New Zealand Struggling to Meet its Climate Goals… because of Climate Change?

New Zealand is considered a world leader in environmental topics of all kinds. It is a leading producer of organic produce, it conserves vast amounts of natural and ecologically diverse land, and it has taken a leading step in goals to reduce greenhouse gases and stop or slow climate change. As early as 1992, New Zealand became a part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, a report released by the New Zealand government this month shows that they have experienced a sharp rise in greenhouse gas emissions since last year. The reason? Climate change.

The country signed on to become a part of the ambitious Climate Neutral Network of the UN last year. But one year and a few months later their climate harmful emissions have increased. When they joined the network, concerns were agriculture, which accounted for about 50% of its greenhouse gases. However, the large increases in greenhouse gases this year were due to electricity production.

Increased emissions from electricity production were due to droughts. The nation has been relying largely on hydroelectric energy production but last year there were serious droughts that made the country rely more on coal facilities.


In the longer term, there are other issues of concern as well. Transportation emissions have increased 70% since 1990 and agricultural emissions have increased 12%. Because the country planted 600,000 hectares of forests in 1990, the country is expected to meet its Kyoto obligations in 2012, but those trees are planned for harvest in the 2020s. New Zealand has a big question in how it will make up for that and address the increases in electricity production and transportation.

The report released this month focuses on what target they should set for 2020. They will be meeting with communities and businesses around the country to come to a consensus on this issue.

Image credit: Chris Gin via flickr under a Creative Commons license

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