New proposal to boost voluntary climate action

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Researchers at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research have released a policy proposal for boosting voluntary climate action by New Zealand organisations.

The work was commissioned by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

Catherine Leining, a Motu Research Policy Fellow who co-authored the study, said many organisations want to go the extra distance to support Aotearoa’s low-emission transition.

“But past approaches to voluntary offsetting and carbon-neutral claims won’t continue to work under the United Nations Paris Agreement and Aotearoa’s domestic climate change policies,” Leining says.

“We need a framework that will incentivise voluntary climate action and better enable organisations to make credible, transparent and marketable claims.”

The proposal begins with ambitious targets for reducing organisations’ own emissions, in line with the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

To gain recognition for reducing emissions externally, organisations could choose between the:

• Carbon Horizon track (helping Aotearoa meet its nationally determined contribution to lowering emissions — known as an NDC), or

• Carbon Frontier track (increasing global mitigation beyond Aotearoa’s NDC).

Motu Research proposes both tracks would operate in a way that ensures environmental integrity.

Leining says Aotearoa would still have the conventional option of offsetting emissions through the voluntary carbon market. And the proposed system expands the scope of eligible ways to do voluntary mitigation.

The proposal recognises more diverse forms of cooperation, shared gains and broader co-benefits of reducing emissions. The proposed system is scalable for the global transition toward net-zero emissions.

“This proposal needs to be tested in domestic and international markets,” Leining says.

“This is an international challenge. No consensus has been reached on solutions. But Aotearoa could be a leader in enabling credible voluntary mitigation that fits our national circumstances and speeds up progress in tackling climate change.”

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