New Zealand is mapping out a novel course to tackle its climate goals in a recently unveiled Carbon Removals Strategy, investigating innovative approaches to carbon credits generation beyond conventional tree-planting methods, local online publication Newsroom reported.
According to a Cabinet paper released by the Ministry for the Environment, the government will explore a spectrum of new methods, including wetland restoration, blue carbon initiatives, and emerging chemical technologies.
The paper reveals further details about the policy decision, which was announced in early July by Climate Change Minister James Shaw at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Green Party.
The new strategy aims to diversify the nation’s carbon sequestration portfolio, seeking to position new removal methods as a complement to actual pollution cuts, with a draft plan expected by year-end, to be consulted on alongside the second climate plan early next year.
While tree planting remains a core strategy, New Zealand will seek a more comprehensive range of tools to minimize reliance on international carbon credits.
To ensure scientific rigor, proposed methods will undergo rigorous global peer review before being incorporated into greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories and climate targets, Shaw emphasized.
Simultaneously, Cabinet has authorized key regulatory adjustments, including a new regime setting minimum criteria for new activities to be eligible and changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for those activities to be integrated.
Shaw anticipates that this expanded eligibility framework could be operational by 2026, allowing the inclusion of new carbon sinks.
Moreover, the Cabinet paper signals the nation’s forward-looking approach, setting the stage for post-net zero scenarios, including the potential for net negative emissions.
The strategy also acknowledges the need to manage supply and demand dynamics within the evolving carbon market, given that the Climate Change Commission, which functions as an independent adviser to the government, has warned of a drop in demand in the mid-2030s.