Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019

This amendment Act provides a framework by which New Zealand can develop and implement clear and stable climate change policies.

Full text


Climate Change Response Act 2002 [New Zealand Legislation website]

What the amendment Act does

The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019 provides a framework by which New Zealand can develop and implement clear and stable climate change policies that:

  • contribute to the global effort under the Paris Agreement to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels
  • allow New Zealand to prepare for, and adapt to, the effects of climate change.

The changes do four key things:

  • set a new domestic greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for New Zealand to:
    • reduce net emissions of all greenhouse gases (except biogenic methane) to zero by 2050
    • reduce emissions of biogenic methane to 24–47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050, including to 10 per cent below 2017 levels by 2030
  • establish a system of emissions budgets to act as stepping stones towards the long-term target
  • require the Government to develop and implement policies for climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • establish a new, independent Climate Change Commission to provide expert advice and monitoring to help keep successive governments on track to meeting long-term goals. See the Climate Change Commission website.

The original proposal was for a separate piece of legislation called the Zero Carbon Bill to be passed into law. In May 2019, the Government decided to introduce it as an amendment to the Climate Change Response Act 2002. The objective was to ensure that all key climate legislation is within one Act.

Next steps

There will be a transitional period to 2021 to get the new provisions up and running.

  • The first national climate change risk assessment has been published. Future national climate change risk assessments will be carried out by the Climate Change Commission.
  • The Ministry for the Environment is developing a provisional emissions budget for 2021–2025. This will provide an early sense of direction before the first three emissions budgets (for the emissions budget periods 2022–2025, 2026–2030 and 2031–2035) are recommended by the Climate Change Commission in early 2021, and set by the Government by the end of 2021.
  • The NZ Emissions Trading Scheme will be an important tool in delivering emissions reductions and helping New Zealand achieve its emissions budgets and 2050 target. The provisional emissions budget for 2021–2025 will be used to inform the unit supply settings.

Documents prepared during the development of the Act