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Low-emissions economy

The Productivity Commission completed its inquiry into transitioning to a low-emissions economy and presented its final report and recommendations to the Government. The final report, summary material, government response, inquiry submissions and commissioned modelling reports are available below.

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  • Our brief
    26 April 2017
  • Engagement and consultation starts
  • Issues paper
    9 August 2017
  • Submissions closed 2 October 2017
  • Draft report
  • Submissions closed 8 June 2018
  • Final report
    31 August 2018
  • Evaluation
    November 2018
  • Government response
    3 August 2019

The inquiry

This inquiry investigated the challenges of, and identified opportunities for, reducing New Zealand’s emissions, in the context of an ambition to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Read our brief from the Government here.

The Commission engaged with a large and diverse group interested in climate change and mitigation policy. We completed over 120 engagement meetings (including overseas), 34 conferences/events and received 403 submissions. Modelling work was also undertaken by a consortium of Vivid Economics, Concept Consulting and Motu Economic and Public Policy Research of different transition pathways to a low-emissions economy, examining respective impacts and outcomes.

Key findings

Watch this 2-minute video to learn about our key findings and recommendations for transitioning to a low-emissions economy.

What needs to be done?

 The Government needs to prioritise the following actions to achieve the above shifts at the right scale and pace:

  • Establish a comprehensive and durable climate change policy framework, including separate legislated long-term targets for short- and long-lived gases; a series of successive emissions budgets; and an independent Climate Change Commission;
  • Reform the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme and apply some form of emissions pricing to methane from agriculture and waste; 
  • Devote significantly more resources to low-emissions innovation and technology to account for the long timeframes involved in bringing innovative ideas to fruition.

Our final report also recommended a suite of other policy reforms to help drive the transition. These include introducing emissions standards for newly registered vehicles, a feebate scheme to accelerate the uptake of EVs, and mandatory climate-related financial disclosures.

Final report & Government response

The Commission's final report was presented to the Government who announced a Climate Action Plan in August 2019. They released a response to our report, agreeing to 43 of the Commission's recommendations and agreement to do more work on 33 further recommendations.

New Zero Carbon Act

On 7 November 2019, the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill was passed. This Act commits New Zealand to zero carbon by 2050 or sooner, sets a legally binding pathway to this target, and requires the Government to make a plan. Find out more: