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Emissions Reduction Plan – Expert Reaction

The government has released its first plan on how to get to zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Emissions Reduction Plan proposes economy-wide changes to drive down New Zealand’s emissions.

The SMC asked experts to comment on:

  1. An overview of the plan
  2. Transport
  3. Agriculture
  4. Energy
  5. Building & construction
  6. Waste
  7. Research & development


Emeritus Professor Ralph Sims, Sustainable Energy and Climate Mitigation, comments:

“Well, the emission reduction plan is yet another step forward in meeting targets, but I don’t detect any urgency.

“Most controversial issues suggested by the Climate Change Commission have been deferred – such as banning the import of petrol/diesel vehicles by 2025.

“Setting up a “Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions” involves further R&D investment to reduce biogenic methane, nitrous oxides which is a good thing as we need to throw money at R&D, but we’ve had the well-funded NZ Greenhouse Gas Research Centre aiming to achieve these goals for almost a decade without any tangible success in actually reducing emissions on farms.

“The Minister of Agriculture emphasised R&D on the potential for producing sustainable aviation fuels from woody biomass (i.e. biofuels from short rotation forests) but he doesn’t seem to know that R&D investment on achieving this goal has been underway in NZ for over 4 decades – but without commercial success to date. So can we keep waiting for a breakthrough?

“This is the problem with the Emissions Reduction Plan – there is little or no immediate action evident to significantly reduce emissions during the first 4-year budget but starting now.

“The Royal Society report in 2016 “Transition to a low-carbon economy for NZ”, and several other reports from several years ago, covered most of the mitigation options outlined in the Plan. So there is little in the Plan that is new, challenging and exciting as a way forward that will highlight NZ internationally. The ban on off-shore oil/gas exploration announced soon after this Labour Government came into power in 2017 hit world headlines. Nothing in this plan will have such an international impact.

“Where is the instant ban on further coal exploration? There is a ban on installing new coal boilers but phasing out existing coal plants is not due till 2037.

“Where is the regulation that no new buildings will have a natural gas connection? There is a “gas transition plan” due in 2023 but a simple ambitious regulation could easily have been brought in immediately.

“Where is the directive to Waka Kotahi that all of their future investment decisions must demonstrate a significant carbon reduction before they can proceed? Some guidelines to reduce transport emissions have been outlined in Government Policy Statements on Land Transport but the NZ Transport Agency has failed to implement them.

“Where are the essential changes to the Building Code that we know has been in need of major review for several years? There are incentives to improve insulation and an acknowledgement that many building materials are high-carbon (e.g cement, steel) but no incentives for immediate change given that a building today will be consuming energy for heating, cooling, appliances for many decades.

“Overall the Plan reads as being aspirational rather than having the ambition necessary.

“Climate change is here forever. The recent IPCC Mitigation report does show that using known low-carbon technologies and incentivising behavioural change will help us stay below a 2 degree Centigrade temperature rise. (We are not going to stay below 1.5 degrees as was the main target in the Paris Agreement).

“Given there is cross-party political support for the three Carbon budgets, some more stringent policies could have been hoped for.

“I would put money on NZ’s gross emissions continuing to rise for some years yet.”

No conflict of interest.

Professor Bronwyn Hayward, Director of Hei Puāwaitanga Sustainable Development and Civic Imagination Research group, Canterbury University, comments:

“It’s easy to be cynical, but I do feel quietly optimistic, that finally this is an emissions plan that starts us as a nation on a new journey of clearly reporting and measuring the difference we are making for our climate and our community. Having the Climate Commission regularly assess our progress is a very real difference to anything we’ve had in the past. All evidence shows that the countries that are able to sustain downward emissions reductions while also protecting populations are countries that that have an independent plan and an independent agency to assess performance over time. This is why it matters that the NZ Climate Commission sets out the budget for the amount of heat trapping gas we can produce as a country and assesses our performance. Their independence is crucial.

“This Emissions Reduction Plan makes a very big investment to diversify away from high methane emission agricultural practices with an initial $338 million dollars to be spent on research in the sector. Understanding what is to be commissioned from that research investment will be crucial to assessing how it helps move us towards a lower emissions and fairer economy.

“Transport also makes up a significant and rapidly growing proportion of our emissions – so today’s announcement of a range of transport investments from significant spending on public transport to trialling a scheme for trading in old cars owned by middle and low income families is welcome. Our transport stock is old, and we don’t have easy ways to quickly transition it to an integrated regional, low carbon active transport system – there is much long term work we need to do to turn around an economy which has produced the second highest rates of emissions per capita in the OECD.

“Lobby groups resisting change over the past 30 years in New Zealand have come from all sides of the political spectrum–but slowly that is changing as new voices, with broader experience and more training have stepped up into leadership positions in all sectors pushed by an increasingly climate-aware public particularly amongst younger voters.

“In addition recent news of the impact of sea level rise in our shaky islands, alongside our experiences of flood events, droughts, and now fuel price hikes have brought a harsh reality check to our climate conversations. Our communities now expect better protection from their government and our trade partners will increasingly expect we play our part in cutting global emissions.

“This Emissions Reduction Plan won’t grab votes but as a nation we have to take long term practical steps to fundamentally change our economy, the way we live our lives, build our homes and protect our people. We can’t afford political magical thinking any more. Today we finally started to take our first steps on a long delayed journey towards a fairer, low emission, and more secure future for everyone.”

No conflict of interest.

Dr Sara Mikaloff-Fletcher, Principal Scientist – Carbon Chemistry and Modelling, NIWA, comments:

“Rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions must be the heart of any realistic plan to reach Zero Carbon. The government’s Emission Reduction Plan lays out a clear pathway to cut emissions from transport, stationary power, agriculture, and waste, which is essential if we are to limit climate change. In addition to emissions reductions, carbon uptake by forests and other ecosystems can play a vital role in slowing climate change. The Emission Reduction Plan envisages a future in which Aotearoa New Zealand’s land management strategy fosters both sustainable, long-term carbon uptake from our environment and supports our biodiversity goals.

“Our Emissions Trading Scheme currently incentivises planting exotic trees over indigenous trees, because exotic trees grow more rapidly and are thought to absorb carbon more quickly in the short term. The Emissions Reduction Plan supports a transition towards planting permanent indigenous forests to absorb carbon and restoring the forests we have. While pine trees and many other widely used exotic species are relatively short lived, native forests planted today can continue to absorb carbon for hundreds of years and come with a wealth of environmental co-benefits. In addition, new estimates of forest carbon uptake based on atmospheric data suggest that native forests may absorb more carbon than previously thought. Looking beyond forests, the plan highlights other ecosystems such as wetlands, coastal areas, and peatlands that could play a role. The strategy laid out in the Emissions Reduction Plan represents a welcome shift towards long-term, wholistic thinking around how Aotearoa New Zealand can care for our lands to support both our climate and biodiversity goals.

“Yet, there are risks associated with both continued reliance of on forest carbon uptake and the proposed shift towards indigenous forests. Multiple lines of evidence from overseas research show that forest carbon uptake has started to slow or even reverse due to forest degradation and climate change. This is likely to accelerate with future change as rising temperatures and changing weather patterns impact ecosystems around the world, but it is not yet known how resilient NZ’s indigenous forests are to these changes. A clear view of how our changing climate will impact native forests is essential to ensure the success of this plan.”

No conflict of interest declared.

Professor Lisa Ellis, Director of the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Programme, University of Otago; and Member of He Kaupapa Hononga/Otago’s Climate Change Research Network, comments:

“The good news from today’s release of our first emissions reduction plan is that we finally have the legal and political infrastructure to drive the transition to a sustainable and equitable low-emissions economy. The mechanisms put in place with cross-party support under the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Act 2019 are working to produce at least the outlines of a path that would bring Aotearoa New Zealand to net zero by 2050. Among the most important of these mechanisms is He Pou a Rangi/the Climate Change Commission, charged with setting science-based targets and plans for achieving them, while remaining above the political fray. Last week the government announced targets in line with the Commission’s recommended emissions budgets. Four of five parliamentary parties confirmed that decision after a special debate on Thursday. This is all good news, because it is hard to imagine successful transition without the reality check that independent, science-based targets provide.

“The bad news from Monday’s announcement is that these emissions budgets are unfair and insufficient, while the plan to implement even these weak targets is unlikely to succeed. We know that greenhouse gases must be halved by 2030 if we are to keep the hope of a climate-stable world alive, and emissions of short-lived, high-impact gases including methane must fall even faster. As a country with one of the world’s highest per capita emissions, we have a responsibility to do our fair share by taking prompt action to prevent runaway climate change. Postponing substantial action yet again undermines our ‘clean, green’ image and our status as a good Pacific neighbour. Despite that bad news, we can still hope that the infrastructure for climate action now in place will eventually do its job, pushing us toward the low-emissions economy that will be better for us all.”

No conflict of interest.

Adjunct Professor Martin Manning, New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, comments:

“New Zealand’s Emissions Reduction plan covers what seems reasonable, rather than what is needed. A sense of urgency is buried under the details of a policy framework that is still being constructed. And this while the World Meteorological Organization has just shown there is a 50% chance we will go over the 1.5°C target temporarily in the next five years.

“The clean vehicle discount terminated in March. Reinstating that and bringing in additional support for low-income people is highly commendable, but lack of details shows a policy still under development. How will it deal with low-income people already having an average debt to the Ministry of Social Development of $7,000?

“Pricing of agricultural emissions by 2025 is important, but it’s still contentious as to whether these targets are consistent with the Paris Accord. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scenario for the 1.5°C target has methane decreasing by 47% from 2020 to 2050, but that is the limit for New Zealand reductions. We are proposing a 10% cut in methane emissions by 2030, while the Global Methane Pledge, adopted at the United Nations 2021 climate conference in Glasgow, set the target of a 30% cut by 2030. There can be reasons for New Zealand being different, but that should be made clear in a plan facing international scrutiny.

“Marginal changes in CO2 uptake by New Zealand forestry ignore the potential for reversing large scale deforestation that occurred in the past. The one billion trees program was a start, but has now stopped taking new projects and will cover just 260 km2. Less than 0.1% of the land previously cleared by human activities. As Dame Anne Salmond showed, our history shows a total misuse of land that must be reversed dramatically.”

No conflict of interest declared.

Dr Gabriela Baron, Design for Sustainability, Conservation and Social Innovation, University of Auckland, comments:

“The Emissions Reduction Plan presents a comprehensive roadmap that lists actions to transition to a zero-emission 2050 for NZ. While its objectives focus on the socio-cultural well-being of New Zealanders, the actions presented in this plan are mostly technocratic. Technology will not save us from climate change, as climate change is a political problem more than a technical one.

“This report considers no limits to growth and no attempts for de-growth, only an attempt to have a “de-carbonized growth” through technology and policy. This means that there is no change in our economic paradigms, just a greening of the same thinking that created the unsustainable situation that we find ourselves in. This growth is inequitable; the ongoing accumulation of wealth will further widen the gap between the wealthy and the most vulnerable. What would de-growth look like in NZ? only like a re-distribution of wealth, and a mindset of permanence, of deep connection to the land where you are actually living in. We need our representatives to set limits to the growth of corporations and focus on prosperity for all. This means improving our living standards and still having a lower environmental impact while regenerating trust, social cohesion, equity, and our natural habitats.

“We are again losing an opportunity to set a courageous international example by genuinely basing decision-making on Mātauranga Māori. In this report, the approach to indigenous worldviews is timid and sectorial, as it is not informing the overarching guiding principles behind this economy-centred action plan. We cannot have genuine Kaitiakitanga with a capitalist mindset: hapori and Papatūānuku must come before profit.”

No conflict of interest declared.


Adjunct Professor Ralph Chapman, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, comments:

“The Plan involves pretty modest total emission reductions in the first budget period (less than 3% reduction in the 4 years to 2025). However, the reductions increase, and the 41% reduction targeted for 2035 [see p. 172] is almost sufficient in terms of NZ’s “playing its part” overall, in terms of the IPCC’s advice based on the 1.5 degree target. A more ambitious target would better allow for the risk of opposition, under-achievement of goals, and the risk that the science will present us with more bad news in future.

“Reducing the overall emissions intensity of transport fuel by only 10% by 2035 [p.172] is riskily slow. With climate change, delivering slowly is losing.

“The heavy emphasis on public transport and improving active transport and shared transport is very encouraging. NZ needs to do this. [p. 169]

“The Plan will overall generate significant co-benefits, such as better health and better places to live, that will come out of NZ’s transition to a low-emissions transport system. [p.170]. Some of the policies, such as improved urban form [p. 172], are highly desirable but will be slow to deliver. “Changing the way we plan our towns and cities to make it easier and safer for people to reduce car travel” [p.173] is critical but will take time.

“It’s disappointing that the date set for phasing out imports of fossil cars is 2035 and not earlier, e.g. 2032 [see p.170]. It’s also disappointing that the Clean Vehicle Scheme, which is an effective policy, is not sharpened up.

“The (vehicle) social leasing scheme might work, but only alongside the more important policies of encouraging active and public transport. It could have the undesirable effect of maintaining car dependence.

“The vehicle scrap-and-replace scheme is likely expensive as a means of cutting emissions and again will have the undesirable effect of maintaining car dependence.

“Supporting the freight sector to purchase low-emissions trucks could distort choices to the detriment of using rail and coastal shipping. This policy needs to be accompanied by regulation to limit unnecessary use of trucking.

“A sustainable biofuels obligation is desirable.”

No conflict of interest declared.

Distinguished Professor Robert McLachlan, School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, Massey University, comments:

“The plan delivers (or starts the process of delivering) widespread changes. The evidence is clear that most sectors are not on track to meet the carbon budgets and that the emissions trading scheme by itself will not do enough.

“The direct funding ($2.9 billion over four years) is a good start. For example, New Zealand has fairly high industrial emissions, and the only significant changes until now are to close Marsden and (possibly) Tiwai Point. If industry needs money to prompt them to make the transition, then so be it, although it does risk creating moral hazard.

“The freight emissions target has been strengthened (from 25% to 35% cuts by 2035) which is welcome. The biofuel target has been weakened (from 15% to 10% cuts by 2035) which probably reflects the high level of uncertainty and technical difficulty here. The reduction in driving is held at 20% by 2035 and it is good to see that targets for every city will be developed this year, with detailed plans to follow. A key step will be to develop the details on the proposal to “incentivise local government to quickly deliver bike/scooter networks, dedicated bus lanes, and walking improvements by reallocating street space (including during street renewals).”

“It’s also very good to see the initiative to “establish a high threshold for new investment to expand roads, including new highway projects, if the expansion is inconsistent with emissions-reduction objectives.” Just two new highways could easily cost as much as the entire ERP package and risk increasing car usage.

“Unfortunately there is no date yet for an end to the import of fossil-fuelled cars, and the big emissions reductions in transport are still pushed out to the 2030s.

“It is disappointing to see the ban on coal remaining at 2037. Many argued that this should be brought forward.

“The initiative to “establish a public-private leadership body focused on decarbonising aviation” is welcome. The UK and EU are well ahead of us in their work in this area.”

No conflict of interest.


Dr Robyn Dynes, Senior Scientist, AgResearch, comments:

“Farmers are crying out for solutions to help them lower their agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, so any new investment and impetus in the area of research and development is welcome.

“While we have made progress in New Zealand on farming practices and approaches such as breeding animals for lower methane emissions, the development of new tools such as inhibitors, vaccines or emission-reducing feeds that can be applied to livestock invariably take a lot of time and resource. Greater investment allows more resources to be applied to accelerate the development of solutions. Any new tools imported from overseas also need to meet New Zealand’s regulatory requirements and need to be suitable for and deliver benefits to our farming systems that typically revolve around year-round grazing livestock outdoors on pasture.

“A lot of effort has gone into government, iwi, industry and science working together in the agricultural emissions space, with an acknowledgement that everyone needs to play their part. This is where the focus needs to remain on the research and development if we are to generate the tools and practices that help New Zealand meet its climate change targets. The He Waka Eke Noa partnership, which the science has fed into, is an important partnership for decision-making on how to price agricultural emissions into the future.”

No conflict of interest declared.

Professor Craig Bunt, Director of Agricultural Innovation Programme, University of Otago, comments:

“The government’s Emissions Reduction Plan encourages technology and innovation without excessively adding more restriction on farming activities. Capping nitrogen fertilizer to less than 190 kilograms per hectare per year will encourage the use of fertilisers that reduce emissions, such as urease and nitrification inhibitors, and slow-release products. Not adopting a blanket ban on so called synthetic nitrogen recognises agriculture requires nitrogen to grow plants, combining a cap with technologies that more precisely delivery sufficient nitrogen to plants will lead to improved efficiency. Farming will respond by moving further away from the use of inefficient immediate release fertilizer to those that are more sustainable with reduced environmental impacts and emissions.

“It is particularly encouraging to see the establishment of a new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions. How the Centre will drive emissions reduction technologies via a step change in research, development, and commercialisation will be a challenging. Investment to accelerate the development of greenhouse gas mitigations via a new public-private joint venture with a focus on product development and commercialisation should be driven by further research. But if it is to faster develop, commercialise, and enable uptake of emissions mitigation technologies those responsible for the new Centre will need to be familiar with science-led industry adoption of new and innovative technologies. It will be interesting to see who an enhanced New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre will partner with in the private sector for this new joint venture.

“The introduction of emissions pricing for agriculture from 2025 could encourage early adoption of on-farm changes to reduce emissions. However, the support for those early adopters will need to be considerable and what the government is considering should be introduced as quickly as possible considering the short timeframe. Acceleration of on-farm trials of overseas technologies to adapt them for the Aotearoa pastoral farming context should be approached with caution as research how best to do this will need to be directly transferable to or independently conducted here to validate these technologies.

“Regenerative agriculture is touched on lightly and mention of it in Aotearoa New Zealand’s specific context should be expanded on. Regenerative agriculture practices cannot be simply uplifted from elsewhere and slotted into farming without appropriate research. The potential for regenerative agriculture to increase soil carbon, improve soil health and contribute to improved freshwater quality, reduce the climate footprint of food systems, and enhance biodiversity will require funded research focusing on the New Zealand farming situation.”

No conflict of interest.


Dr John Burnell, Energy Futures Research Leader, and Senior Geothermal Modeller, GNS Science, comments:

“Te Pū Ao GNS Science has a strong focus on environment and climate, and energy futures research including the climate system; geothermal energy; monitoring and understanding of the carbon cycle; and materials for hydrogen production.

“GNS supports the intent of the Emissions Reduction Plan as the first steps of Aotearoa / New Zealand’s path to net zero by 2050. Energy powers our economy and underpins the wellbeing of our communities. Like other countries, we are grappling with how we can meet changing demands for energy, without causing irreversible impacts to our environment.

“The proposed reductions in energy emissions will be challenging and require a significant transformation in both infrastructure and behaviour. Consideration must be given to the whole energy system during implementation to prevent actions in one sector negatively impact other sectors. For example, plans to increase zero-emissions vehicles to 30% of the light fleet by 2035 will have implications for electricity generation.

“Currently 60% of our energy comes from fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases when used. The electricity sector is crucial in our transition from these fossil fuels and must grow in a way that is sustainable, resilient, and affordable. With oversight from central government, we should be prepared to take a pragmatic approach to making choices based on the greatest reduction in overall emissions and not focus on individual outcomes.

“Transforming our energy system will require innovation and new technologies. Aotearoa / New Zealand has some unique advantages that we should build on. For example, a zone of unique high heat flow in the central part of the North Island. Preliminary estimates suggest there are large amounts of energy stored in deep superhot geothermal systems in this zone, that could provide all Aotearoa / New Zealand’s energy needs for hundreds of years.”

No conflict of interest declared.

Building & construction

Distinguished Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, comments:

“Most of today’s existing buildings will still be in use by 2035 and ‘lock-in’ energy requirements, so urgent action must be taken to remediate them, as well as to improve quality standards for new buildings. The birth of the Building Code, which last received a major review in 2008, appears to be stuck in a breach delivery, with spasms of consultation with companies about ventilation and insulation standards. This is delaying the birth of world class building standards, which can reduce embodied carbon immediately.

“In the middle of the climate crisis and with cost of living a major issue, Aotearoa cannot afford to yet again be making piecemeal moves that will fail to reduce emissions and make homes more expensive to heat. We know all too well that the quality of housing has a major effect on people’s health and well-being. We must make a major investment now to retrofit insulation and heating in all houses. If Ireland, which like us has a high proportion of households in fuel poverty, can do it, so can we.

“To make essential progress to zero carbon by 2035, clear and consistent targets, regulations and incentives need to be put in place that take account of the costs to low-income households, as well as the co-benefits of sustainable buildings and associated renewable energy supplies. The Government’s Plan is indeed a step forward and outlines the welcome construction innovations Kāinga Ora -homes and communities is building, but it emphasises “options”, rather than decisive implementation of energy certificates and other regulations. The Plan needs to signal the climate emergency by using strong incentives for companies to meet improved regulations and serious penalties if they are ignored. If New York City, with a population twice the size of Aotearoa/New Zealand can enforce green building regulations for new buildings to be 100 percent net-zero by 2030, so can we.”

Conflict of interest statement: “I’m on the board of Kainga Ora, but I’m writing as an academic.”


Dr Jeff Seadon, Senior Lecturer, School of Future Environments, AUT, comments:

“The plan proposes encouraging behaviour to prevent waste at home. Broad-brush national campaigns have shown to have little impact on waste quantities but are a nice feelgood action to demonstrate the government has recognised there is an issue.

“Targeting food and hospitality businesses to reduce food waste and separate out organic waste can make a significant difference, provided the cost of separation is not exorbitant. The people in food businesses can be easily trained to divert food waste from the general waste collection.

“The success of kerbside collections depends on households using them correctly. The increasing rates of contamination in the current kerbside recycling systems indicate that there will be a significant change to get low contamination levels in kerbside food collections. Food waste processors will need to have a contamination separation process in operation to make kerbside food waste collection viable. Garden waste is predominantly covered by private collectors who have been operating for several decades successfully and while a licensing system could be useful to maintain integrity, further regulation is not necessary for areas with established operations.

“Investing in organic waste processing and resource recovery infrastructure is a necessity but moving these wastes over long distances raises the issue of carbon emissions emitted by transportation. Localisation of industry also supports local job creation in a variety of skill levels.

“The key areas of waste in the building and construction sector are in the design, procurement and onsite stages. At least a third of all construction waste occurs at the design stage, another 5-20% at procurement and the rest on site. Improving skill levels of on-site employees can significantly reduce waste and the need to redo work of poor quality. Deconstruction rather than demolition can divert large quantities of waste to landfills. However, there needs to be a concurrent development of secondary markets to provide outlets to utilise these materials. Investing in sorting and processing infrastructure for construction and demolition waste will be a necessity along with establishing larger onshore markets for diverted products.

“The investigation into banning organic waste from landfill by 2030 seems like it will be fruitless – since who will notice a banana skin tucked in with the rest of the rubbish? Unless there are whole bins of organic waste being disposed of, monitoring will be very difficult.

“All modern large landfills consented since 1991 already have landfill gas capture in place and these landfills are world class. Smaller, older landfills can be caught in the Plan’s regulations requiring gas capture, which may cause more of them to close.
Accessing accurate waste data has long been a difficulty for planning purposes and the proposal to develop a national waste licensing scheme saves each council from having to develop their own bylaws.

“Improving information on greenhouse gas emissions from waste disposal will be a necessity to enable better reporting on greenhouse gas emissions.”

No conflict of interest declared.

Research & development

Geoff Willmott, Deputy Director Commercialisation and Industry Engagement, MacDiarmid Institute, and Associate Professor of Physics with the University of Auckland, comments:

“It’s positive to see RSI&T (Research, Science, Innovation and Technology) figuring prominently in the Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP), cutting across most of the sectors and topics covered. Much of this activity will fall in the area known as ‘Deep Tech’ – that is, relating to technologies which evolve from leading scientific research, and that may require strong capital investment and/or long timeframes to deliver. Investors, economists and governments are increasingly recognising the value of Deep Tech, which builds flexibility and complexity within an economy. Deep Tech is very well aligned with goals shared by many New Zealanders including improved sustainability, alignment with te ao Māori, and a shift away from dependence on tourism and primary industries.

“The case for adopting existing technologies is often obvious, and indeed the Climate Change Commission (CCC) has it made clear that New Zealand can meet emissions targets using existing technologies and with lifestyle changes. When it comes to research into new ideas, the motivation provided by the ERP and CCC revolves around solving problems that are specific to New Zealand. How can we reduce emissions per cow? How can we decarbonize steel production at Glenbrook? However, this is far less compelling than the global opportunity we give ourselves by answering these questions. We could feed the world more sustainably, and we could reduce global carbon emissions from steel making. Elsewhere in New Zealand we are figuring out how to decarbonise ammonia production, make batteries in new ways, produce hydrogen more efficiently, and recycle new types of waste – all global opportunities. Exporting niche ideas to the world is a familiar story for New Zealand, but now it has a twist: in addition to making money, we can make significant impacts on global emissions.

“While very little about Deep Tech R&D is easy, there are currently two key bottlenecks that could be particularly relevant for the ERP. The first is support for scale-up facilities, which provide a critical link between developing a proof-of-concept and reaching the global marketplace. The second is of course people – training, attraction, and retention of the talent to adopt, adapt and develop new technologies.”

No conflict of interest declared.