New Zealand carbon neutral by 2020

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Helen Clarke, has announced that New Zealand is aiming to be the first country to be carbon neutral by 2020, with zero net carbon emissions across all sectors.

The program will begin with six of the government’s 34 agencies, which will be carbon neutral by 2012. The remainder are to have a carbon neutral strategy in place by that date.

Climate Change Minister, David Parker, says the government is in the process of developing a New Zealand protocol for measuring and reporting emissions that is consistent with international standards.

Emissions will be measured from the 2007 calendar year onwards. Calculations will take into account energy and transport use, and waste to landfill.

Minister Parker says government agencies will take the lead by reducing their carbon footprint through energy efficient building design; use of low-energy appliances; encouraging staff to turn off lights and equipment when not in use; more waste recycling; use of videoconferencing instead of travel where appropriate; and use of New Zealand’s large power generation companies are increasingly targeting wind power and other renewable sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meridian Energy energy efficient vehicles in company fleets.

He says that once emissions have been reduced as much as is practicable, agencies will purchase forestry offsets to cover remaining emissions.

Soon after the government’s announcement, a major New Zealand power company, Meridian Energy, announced it had become the first energy company in the country to be certified as carbon neutral.

The company says it has reduced emissions and offset the remainder by purchasing carbon credits.

Another large New Zealand energy supplier, Contact Energy, has announced it will invest NZ$2 billion in wind- and geothermal-power projects over the next five years.

Editor's Note: First published in the April-May 2007 issue of ECOS Magazine.