Emissions budgets and the emissions reduction plan 

Aotearoa New Zealand is using a system of emissions budgets to meet our 2050 target. The Government intends to publish the first emissions reduction plan setting out policies and strategies for meeting emissions budgets by 31 May 2022.

Progress is monitored by the Climate Change Commission, as outlined in the Climate Change Response Act (2002

The role of the Climate Change Commission

The Climate Change Commission is responsible for providing recommendations to Government on emissions budgets and the emissions reduction plan.

On 1 February 2021, the Commission released its draft advice [Climate Change Commission] on the:

  • first three emissions budgets
  • policy direction for the Government's first emissions reduction plan, to meet New Zealand's first emissions budget
  • New Zealand's 2030 nationally determined contribution
  • eventual reductions required for biogenic methane required for New Zealand to contribute to limiting global average temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The Commission consulted on the draft report from 1 February to 28 March 2021 and received more than 15,000 submissions.

On 31 May 2021, the Commission provided the Government with its final report - Ināia tonu nei: a low emissions future for Aotearoa [Climate Change Commission].

Emissions budgets

An emissions budget is a total quantity of emissions that is allowed to be released during an emissions budget period. Each emissions budget covers a period of five years (except the first emissions budget which will cover the period 2022 - 2025). Emissions budgets will act as stepping-stones, or interim targets, to reaching our 2050 emissions reduction targets. New Zealand’s legislated targets are for net zero greenhouse gas emissions (except biogenic methane), and a 24 - 47% reduction in biogenic methane, by 2050.

The Commission’s proposed budgets (Mt CO2e) 

The Commission's recommendation for New Zealand's first three emissions budgets is set out below.

Budget period 2022–2025 2026–2030 2031–2035
All gases, net (AR5)  290 312 253
Annual average 72.4 62.4 50.6

The Government has agreed in principle to broadly accept the Commission's recommended emissions budgets amended to recognise changes in projected forestry emissions. This is new information that was not available when the Commission prepared its final advice.

The Government's proposed amendment

The proposed amendment would increase emissions allowed in the first emissions budget period by 0.7% (2 MtCO2-e). But the combined effect over the three emissions budget periods will reduce emissions by a total of 14 MtCO2-e, 1.6% lower than the Commission's recommended total.

Budget period    




All gases, net (AR5) 




Annual average   




These proposed budgets are included in the discussion document.

Emissions reduction plan

The first emissions reduction plan will set policies and strategies for meeting the first emissions budget (2022-2025) and set the direction for climate action for the next 15 years. It will set us on a pathway to meeting our 2050 target. Section 5ZG of the Climate Change Response Act 2002 required that the plan include:

  • policies and strategies for specific sectors:
    • transport
    • energy
    • waste
    • building and construction
    • agriculture and forestry
  • a multi-sector strategy to meet emissions budgets and improve the ability of those sectors to adapt to the effects of climate change
  • ways to mitigate the impacts reducing emissions and increasing removals will have on people, including the funding for any mitigation action
  • any other policies or strategies that the Minister for Climate Change considers necessary.

Policies and strategies of the Emissions Reduction Plan

The policies that form the first emissions reduction plan will cover every sector of the economy and include changes to our funding and finance system, the way we organise our urban areas, and a shift to a circular economy. While the details of the plan are still taking shape, these are some examples to guide the direction we’re moving in:

  • Transport – improving our passenger vehicles, promoting a more efficient freight system and powering our vehicle fleet with clean, renewable electricity
  • Energy and industry – preparing our electricity sector to power the low-emissions economy, moving away from fossil fuels, and speeding up industrial decarbonisation
  • Agriculture – improving the technology and practices that keep this sector on track to meet biogenic methane targets and reduce long-lived emissions
  • Waste – reducing and diverting waste from landfill and reducing hydrofluorocarbons
  • Building and construction – reducing building-related emissions, and bringing health benefits at the same time
  • Forestry – establishing forest sinks that remove carbon from the atmosphere and also improve biodiversity
  • Research and innovation – prioritising research that will help New Zealand transition to a low-emissions economy

Circular economy – developing a strategy to move to a circular economy with a thriving bioeconomy.

A timeline of key reports and decisions influencing the emissions reduction plan is set out below.

ERP timeline v2
ERP timeline v2

Consultation on the emissions reduction plan

Consultation on the emissions reduction plan discussion document opened on Wednesday 13 October 2021 and closes at  11.59pm on Wednesday 24 November.

It is important that we ensure all New Zealanders can have their say on proposed emissions reduction policies.

During consultation we want to hear from you about the part you will play the steps your community can take, investments you can make in your businesses, or the changes you can make as an individual and how government can support you to make these changes. You know your community best and, therefore, what can be achieved.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, consultation events with general public will primarily be run online.

Making a submission

There are two ways you can make a submission:

  1. via Citizen Space, our consultation hub, available at https://consult.environment.govt.nz/
  2. write your own submission. If you want to provide your own written submission you can provide this as an uploaded file in our consultation on Citizen Space (linked above).

We request that you don't email or post submissions as this makes analysis more difficult. However, if you need to, please send written submissions to: Emissions reduction plan consultation, Ministry for the Environment, PO Box 10362, Wellington 6143” and include:

  • your name or organisation
  • your postal address
  • your telephone number
  • your email address.

If you are emailing your feedback, send it to;climateconsultation2021@mfe.govt.nz as a:

  • PDF, or
  • Microsoft Word document (2003 or later version).

Submissions close at 11.59pm Wednesday 24 November

More information

Please direct any queries to:

Email: climateconsultation2021@mfe.govt.nz

Post:  Emissions reduction plan consultation, Ministry for the Environment, PO Box 10362, Wellington 6143