Emission unit (NZU) prices and controls

The NZ ETS has price controls that act as safety valves. These safety valves help manage the risk of the NZU price at auction, being out of line with what is considered necessary to meet our emission budgets. The upper price control is the 'cost containment reserve' and the lower price control is the 'auction reserve price'.

Annual price control settings

The drivers of the price of New Zealand emission units (NZUs) in the market are supply and demand. Most trading of NZUs happens in the secondary market, instead of with the Crown. See Where to buy emissions units.

The price controls only operate at auctions and do not prevent secondary market prices from going above or below these prices.

The Government has also implemented a confidential reserve price, which prevents NZUs from being sold at auction at a price significantly below the secondary market price. If the auction clearing price is less than the confidential reserve price, no NZUs will be sold at the the auction. Unsold NZUs will be rolled forward to be sold at the next auction if it is in the same calendar year.

To learn more about the purpose of price controls, and how they relate to emissions budgets see the role of price controls in the NZ ETS.







Cost containment reserve trigger price






Cost containment reserve volume
(million NZUs)






Auction price floor






Fixed price option avaliable for 2020 emissions obligations

The fixed price option (FPO) is available for participants to meet their 2020 emissions obligations at a price of $35 per unit. The FPO allows participants to pay cash to the Crown rather than surrendering units, acting as a de facto price ceiling. The FPO has been replaced with the cost containment reserve.

Current price of NZUs

Most trading of NZUs happens in the secondary market. Some of the trading platforms provide a daily spot price.

The Government also auctions NZUs. The clearing price of each auction can be found here on the NZ ETS auctions site.