This legal research paper deals with the New Zealand’s innovative step of enacting the ‘Zero Carbon Act’. This act is an amendment made in the existing ‘Climate Change Response Act, 2002’, with this New Zealand became the first country in the world to have an act on climate change with a legal backing. This problem is faced by New Zealand as well as its people and economy in combating climate change. This also deals with the need of such act that made New Zealand, the first country in the world to have a law on climate issue. It deals with the strategy made in this act to achieve the goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050, and reducing the emissions of biogenic methane to 10%. New Zealand can frame and implement policies that are in accord with the Paris Agreement. This will help in keeping a temperature limit of 1.5 degree centigrade. This act looks forward establishing an independent climate change commission and to establish a system of emissions budget. This research paper suggests the pathway through which New Zealand can achieve the target of Zero Carbon Emission by 2050.
It deals with the commitments made by the government of New Zealand during the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Accord. This research paper also throws light on the challenges that the New Zealand government will face during implementation of such law.
Climate Change Response Act, 2002, Zero Carbon Emission, Paris Agreement, Kyoto Protocol
Recently, New Zealand has passed a law that is ‘Zero Carbon Act’, makes New Zealand the first country in the world to make a legal climate change law. This act will help New Zealand to commit to ZERO CARBON EMMISSION by 2050, which is a part of country’s initiative to meet its PARIS ACCORD commitment.
Climate Change is a global crisis that is impacting our homes and livelihood. The planet is warmed by 1 degree centigrade since pre industrial times. This is mainly due to the emission of greenhouse gases continuously into the atmosphere that goes on degrading it and making the of not only humans but also of the other species critical on this planet.
ZERO CARBON ACT
This act is titled as ‘CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSE (ZERO CARBON) AMENDMENT ACT. This is the framework by which New Zealand can frame and implement climate change policies in line with the PARIS AGREEMENT,this will help in keeping the temperature below 2 degree centigrade or even put extra efforts to maintain it to 1.5 degree centigrade.
PROPOSAL IN PARLIAMENT
The bill was first proposed by one of the youth led climate organization ‘Generation zero’. Basically, the idea was to introduce a separate legislation under the ‘Zero Carbon Bill’. But the country’s government decided to create an amendment in the existing legislation of ‘CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSE ACT, 2002’ so as to cover all the legislations governing the policies of climate change under one frame.
The Bill was first introduced in the parliament of New Zealand in May, 2019. On the third reading the bill was passed by the both of New Zealand’s parliament on November, 2019. The Bill is loosely framed on Britain’s Climate Change Act.
ZERO CARBON ACT aims to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases to zero as well as to introducing mitigating measures to reduce emission of Biogenic Methane generated from biogenic sources. This act has separate targets for biogenic methane because methane is a short lived gas and degrades in the atmosphere over decades.
This act has also framed a target of establishing an independent climate change commission and also to establish a system of budget for emissions to look after the cause and effects of climate change and to propose changes in the policies and provides assistance in raising funds to combat climate change and its adverse effects on the humans and their livelihood.
According to the New Zealand’s Ministry of Environment, the country is well- positioned to undertake steps to mitigate climate change. The country’s capacity to use energy from renewable source is 80%. In addition to this the country is also planning to phase out the use of offshore oil and gas. In addition to this the government is working towards investing over $14.5 Billion to upgrade and better its public transport system along with walking and cycling infrastructure over the next 10 years.
Globally, there are more than 1500 laws governing climate change. Among these over 100 of them were introduced after the Paris agreement and over 28 of them are explicitly in reference to the agreement.
According to the policy, that was released in 2018, all the 197 countries that are signatory of the Paris Climate Change agreement, they have at least one law or policy on climate change.
WITH REFERENCE TO INDIA
The Grantham Institute of Research on Climate Change and the Environment includes phase 2 of India’s faster adoption and manufacturing of electric vehicles frame scheme. India has a National Action Plan under Climate Climate Change.
Under this there are 8 Missions that will be responsible for achieving the broad goals of adaptation and mitigation. These are as follows
1. National Solar Mission
2. National Mission for enhancing Solar Energy
3. National Mission on Sustainable Habitat
4. National Mission for sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem
5. National Mission for Green India
6. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture
7. National Water Mission
8. National Mission on Strategic knowledge on Climate Change
Climate is mainly the phenomenal change that affects the global and regional climate
Glaciers have shrunk, plants and animals ranges have been shifted, and accelerated sea level rise and more intense heat waves are few examples of climate change.
Few measures that we can adopt are
Recycling helps in sustaining the natural resources on this planet. Adopting the principle of REDUCE, RECYCLE, REDUCE helps in maintaining a balance in the ecosystem.
2. INCREASE USE OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Increasing our dependency on public transport not only contributes to the country’s economy but also helps in reduction of emission of pollutants that harm our ecosystem
Retrospectingthe New Zealand’s history, the country had faced severe hardships. In the past 2018 and 1998 remained the hottest years in the country’s history after 2016.
More than one natural catastrophe are experienced by New Zealand but the one that threatened the soul of the country is the unresolved issues of climate change that had left an adverse effect not only on the environment but also on the country’s economy. For EXAMPLE New Zealand experienced a severe drought in 2013- the worst in the last 41 years and that costs the New Zealand’s economy tragic casualties and that leads a deprivation of $1.3 Billion. After such woe the country encountered another contretemps of being hit by cyclone Feni and consequently by cyclone Gita. In 2017, Port Hills fire in Christ Church and again in 2019 in Nelson and Tasman undergone an Australian Bush fire, such nightmares are the kick in the teeth of New Zealand.
With continued ocean and atmospheric warming sea levels affect the towns and cities. New Zealand being a coastal country will face the worst case scenario by having an average 2 meter sea level rise by the end of the century as the warming water expand, glaciers melt and polar ice sheets over Greenland and Antarctica shrink. Many parts of New Zealand are shrinking and many are on the verge of shrinking
According to the scientists, Antarctica’s largest ice shelf is melting ten times faster than expected. Auckland’s Tamaki Drive is now submerged by sea water. United Nation published a report which signifies that the world would face harsh impacts on environment, ecosystem and life, if the global warming temperature would exceed to 1.5 degree centigrade.
CLIMATE CHANGE AGREEMENTS
New Zealand is a signatory to UNFCCC (UNITED NATION FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE) as well as KYOTO PROTOCOL and PARIS AGREEMENT.
PARIS AGREEMENT is the globally accepted agreement adopted by the parties signatory to UNFCCC with a commitment to take action against climate change.
Under UNFCCC parties signatory to it endeavors to combat climate change
UNFCCC takes into consideration the following things
1. UNFCCC plays a significant role in recognizing as well as in analyzing a serious issue which will be a critical problem for the world in the upcoming future.
2. Its motive is to mitigate the dangerous human interventions with climate change.
3. It lays emphasis on developed countries to follow the guidelines as stated.
4. For Developing countries UNFCCC provides sufficient funds to combat climate change
5. It provides the countries with sufficient guidelines to analyse the problem and take the required steps
6. IT drafts guidelines that are in consonance of economic development as well as combating climate change.
7. It take a formal outlook of guidelines to accommodate the climate change.
PARIS CLIMATE CHANGE AGREEMENT
Around, 200 years back, everything goes with the law of nature, monsoon, summer, winter were in coordination with each other and cycle of weather was same from years.
In 1800, Industrial Revolution took place, lots of factories and lots of production, demand and Innovation of a lot of things increase and to produce energy, they have to burn fossil fuels and natural resources and it resulted in large emission of greenhouse gases. It has been said that Industrial Revolution took place between1780-1840. But current Carbon dioxide proved that it is never stopped. In just 200 years many of the natural laws were malfunctioned, the system that was running fluently got troubled in just 200 years. Today, we face each season at its extremity, let it be monsoon, summer, winter and uncontrollable behavior of weather creates unnecessary problems in our day to day life like floods, drought and superhot summers. Due to this impact thousands of life have already taken away in recognition of 179 countries and European Union spent two weeks in hammering out the final wording of an agreement to keep global temperature increase below 2 degree centigrade and if possible below 1.5 degree centigrade. This meeting is one of the largest gathering of the world leaders ever seen.
WHAT IS 2 DEGREE CENTIGRADE
This temperature represents average temperature of entire earth but 2 degree centigrade sounds not much. In 1890, global temperature was -0.37 degree centigrade, in 1940 temperature was -0.03 degree centigrade, in the next 40 years +0.27 degree centigrade, in2000 it was 0.42 degree centigrade in 2016 it was 0.99 degree centigrade.
16 out of the 17 warmest years in the last 136 years record all have occurred since 2001. 3016 was the warmest year in record and Paris agreement is trying to keep it below 2 degree centigrade and if possible below 1.5 degree centigrade.
Compare to today, 2 degree centigrade will be disastrous. Even if each country give its efforts, we can possibly keep it below 1.5 degree centigrade. But without any guidelines and efforts it will go anyway and effects will be even much worst. So they decided to give it practical number of 2 degree centigrade and to achieve this target everyone who attended Paris Climate meeting made emission cutting measures
The top counties emitting carbon dioxide are
1. China emits 30% of the total emission
2. United States of America emits 15%
3. European Union emits 10%
4. India emits 7%
5. Russia emits 5%
These five countries emits almost 70% of the total global emission and rest world contributes 30%
Each party has to go to their domestic countries in order to get the approval and in some cases have been passed by domestic law. China for instance voted to adopt the proposal of Paris agreement and the closing meeting of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. Once their domestic laws get approved then the parties will submit acceptance to the United Nation to prove that they are ready to join. The country is reported every 5years and are to be registered by the United Nation secretariat. The country j
have no binding as a matter of international law. There will be no mechanism to force a country to set a target by a specific date and no enforcement if set target is not met.
THEN HOW THESE COUNTRIES WILL PERFORM?
Suppose one country does not perform the set target there is no law to force on these countries but the amount of guilt and shame they have to face simply because the low performing party who is directly affecting the climate change and global warming is much more as well it will be disrespectful to all other teammates who is putting efforts.
On the other hand the country which performs good will get appreciation and admiration in the entire world and this will not doubt will work better than any law. At the Paris Conference 2017 also decided that developed countries will give $100 Billion per year as climate finance till 2025.This investment of $100 Billion will be given as an aid to developing countries for against climate change adaptation and mitigation.
But why the developed countries have to pay to developing countries?
As on the foundation of each developed country each industrial revolution the amount of money and power they have is because of the industrial revolution which directly cause climate change and developing countries were not industrialized back then and even now they are dependent on developed countries for industrial needs so overall developed countries are responsible for contributing to climate change and its their duty to pay those countries who are facing climate disaster.
But these finance will specifically be used to combat climate disaster. These funds will be given to parties most vulnerable to the effects of climate change includes developed countries and developing states
In 1992, UNFCCC( United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change) this convention was transformed into a treaty which is known as KYOTO PROTOCOL and it is adopted in the year 1997 and came into force in the year 1995. Kyoto protocol mainly focused on greenhouse gas emission.
OBJECTIVE OF KYOTO PROTOCOL
Its objective is to make sure that the parties signatory to it will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in their specific countries. So there are different sources of greenhouse gases emissions.
1. Natural sources
2. Anthropogenic sources
So when there in human contribution in emission of greenhouse gases the emissions must not go beyond a certain definite level.
Greenhouse gases are METHANE, CARBONDIOXIDE, NITROUS OXIDE HYDROFLORO CARBON, PERFLORO CARBON, SULPHUR HEXA FLORIDE
There are developed countries, developing as well as under developed countries so this protocol especially laid emphasis on developed countries as they are more industrialized than developing countries and hence contribute more to greenhouse gas emission
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KYOTO PROTOCOL AND UNFCCC
UNFCCC encourages the developed and industrialized countries to stabilize the emission of greenhouse gases but KYOTO PROTOCOL commit them to do so
GOALS OF KYOTO PROTOCOL ARE—
The parties should decrease the emission level by 5.2perecntage on an average level of 1990 levels.
FIRST COMMITMENT PERIOD- 2008-2012
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA have to reduce the emission levels by 7% as compared to the levels of 1990 by the end of 2012
There were 37 countries at the time of first commitment but many parties drew back till the second commitment.
SECOND COMMITMENT- 2013-2020
During this period U.S.A and Canada resigned from KYOTO PROTOCOL
1. Each country who has signed up the KYOTO PROTOCOL has to follow NATIONAL MEASURES it includes that how the country would reduce the emissions
Either through Afforestation or industrialization, stopping deforestation all these are the national measures that the country can adopt to combat climate change if you have not signup the KYOTO PROTOCOL.
2. PROJECT BASD MECHANISM
a) Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is defined in article 12 of KYOTO PROTOCOL
A mechanism that promotes sustainable development as certain developing countries that are not parties of KYOTO PROTOCOL are benefitted from it. The principle of CDMS emission reduction production decreased further
b) Joint Implementation (JI) is defined in article 6 of KYOTO PROTOCOL
IMPLEMENTATION OF ZERO CARBON ALW
For implementing the ‘ZERO CARBON LAW’ two step action is required-
1. We should take mitigating steps to lower the emission of carbon in atmosphere for future in line with the global emissions.
2. We must have to take adapting measures to plan and build New Zealand for ongoing climate changes impacts
New Zealand already had a framework of UNFCCC, 2002, but the levels go on increasing after 1990, the existing framework lacks in providing a sustainable policy on climate change.
MEET PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD AGREEMENT
Different countries have made different commitments to meet the commitment made by the New Zealand under this the act is adopted
AMENDMENT TO THE CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSE ACT, 2002
There is no separate legislation but it is an amendment made in the already existing act.
CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSE ZERO CARBON ACT
Under this framework of this act New Zealand will be able to develop and implement policies that are in line with the Paris Agreement.
By this act New Zealand will be able meet its commitments made in the Paris Climate Change Agreement
LIMIT TEMPERATURE INCREASE TO 1.5 DEGREE CENTIGRADE
According to government of New Zealand it is the first legislation in the world to make a legal binding commitment to line with 1.5 degree centigrade global warming.
REDUCING EMISSIONS OF BIOGENIC METHANE
Reducing biogenic methane upto 10% below 2017 level by 2030 and upto 24% from 47% below 2017 levels by 2050
Biogenic methane are generated from the biogenic sources like cow dung waste generated by livestock
INDEPENDENT CLIMATE CHANGE COMMISSION
The government will set up an independent climate change commission to look after the emissions on regular intervals and keep an eye on the guidelines to be followed by all.
SYSTEM OF EMISSION OF BUDGET
Whether total emission increase or decrease in the atmosphere will slightly be calculated and developed
Separate targets for biogenic methane will be set up as methane is a short lived climate pollutant with atmospheric lifetime upto 12%.
Methane as a greenhouse gas is more potent to cause pollution
SUITABILITY OF NEW ZEALAND
1. WELL POSITIONED
a) New Zealand obtains 80% of energy from renewable resources like solar energy, wind energy.
b) to reduce the use of offshore oil and gas
c) Government is investing $14.5 Billion to better the public transport and lower the pollution levels
d) initiatives to promote walking and cycling infrastructure
e) GDP rise should be anticipated so that income of household will continue to rise and cost of adaption of changes will be minimized
CASE LAW: MATAATUA DISTRICT MAORI COUNCIL v. NEWZEALAND
This case was filed in 2016 and is yet to be decided. The legal delegates of Maori council appealed in the Waitangi Tribunal, the panel that hears and resolve the disputes between Maori and the New Zealand government.
The dispute was over the issue of climate change and the government failed to implement policies and hence breached its duty towards the Maoris. The Waitangi tribunal affirmed both the parties that it will continue the hearing after 2020. Consequently, Maori issued a petition for urgent hearing and redressed a set of relief to be granted by court which includes-
1. an assistance by the panel that the government has failed to perform obligations under Waitangi treaty and thus breached it
2. A revision of the mitigation targets should be done by the New Zealand government
3. Adjuring the government to adopt efficient policies on climate change.
These claims are derived from the link between the climate change and the counter effect over the livelihood of Maoris. After the Paris climate change conference in 2015, New Zealand is determined to reduce the emissions by 11% by 2030 in comparison to the levels of 1990. But the incongruity raised when an increase in Greenhouse gas emissions is seen in 2015 that is 24.1% compared to 1990 levels and the emissions are expected to be increased by 30% in 2020. The appellants highlighted that the obligations of the Waitangi Treaty and claimed that the government of New Zealand is answerable for the ‘ active protection’ of resources.
Climate change response (zero carbon) amendment act,2019
Paris climate change agreement,2015
Climate change act,2008
 Research from Victoria University of Wellington
Author Details: KHUSHBOO MEHROTRA (BANASTHALI VIDYAPEETH)
The views are personal only, if any.