Wise Response submission to the Climate Change Commission – March 2021

Wise Response has made a comprehensive submission to the Climate Change Commission. The submission is available as a PDF here.


Wise Response advocates deep and wide-ranging actions. Climate Change Commission’s advice supported but ‘too narrow’.

Wise Response recommends 24 essential actions in its advice to the Climate Change Commission.  ‘Business as usual’ is no longer an option. A ‘Moon Shot’ response will be needed to transition from unconstrained fossil fuel use to achieve zero carbon emissions. And a ‘Mission Drive’ investment will be needed for transition solutions across all sectors of our economy and society.

The chairs of Wise Response, Prof. Liz Slooten and Dr Jim Salinger, ‘express strong support for the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and for the implementation of its recommendations. A future in which carbon budgets are science-based and mandatory with transformational change, even if we are not satisfied about their ambition and sectoral distribution strategies, is much better for New Zealand’s future than one in which there is continuing political uncertainty about limits to emissions, as has happened over the last three decades’.

The Commission’s draft advice was, however, ‘too narrow’ and much wider ranging actions were necessary if zero emissions and a sustainable economy were to be achieved.

Contacts:   Liz Slooten –  027 447 4418.  Jim Salinger – 021 221 9461

 Wise Response Recommendations to CCC

R1 – A “Moon Shot” level of response is required to transition from unconstrained growth of fossil fuel production to zero carbon emissions.

R2 – A “Mission Drive” investment is necessary for meeting emissions in each sector seeking transition solutions.

R3 – The budgets and the NDC should be based on biogenic methane contributions higher than the world average under 1.5°C; for example, the upper quartile.

R4 – The budget that could be responsibly adopted would require gross emissions to decrease by 60% by 2030.

R5 – Biogenic methane levels need to be reduced significantly. Any delay goes against the principle of intergeneration equity by passing the responsibility to future generations.

R6 – Behaviour change (necessary action 16) should be greater, bolder and more encompassing in the actions for a multisector strategy.

R7 – The recommended target for net zero emissions be brought forward to 2040 because:

  • The trend for increasingly troubling scientific observations of climate change impacts on key indicators.
  • The globe is trending along the business-as-usual warming scenario.
  • The risk of crossing a tipping point beyond which climate control becomes difficult.
  • New Zealand has contributed more than its fair share to climate warming and has the wealth and capacity to change.
  • Economic opportunity lies in innovations in social and engineering technology related to early achievement of a low carbon economy.

R8 –The Commission should review the possibility of following the proposed agricultural reduction pathway while at the same time expecting to achieve the much steeper path way necessary to comply with the 1.5°C warming limit.

R9 – The Commission should consider the physical reality of limits to growth and its implications for the economy and emissions in plausible scenarios as required.

R10 – Fully exploit the potential of Nature Based Solutions (NbS)  as a means of both building resilience to, and mitigating climate change at a faster rate.

R11 – Recommend NbS of conservation agriculture, nutrient management, trees on cropland and biochar usage for agriculture.

R12 – Protect native forests and their biodiversity.

R13 – The Commission should seek the expansion of marine reserves to 40% of the NZ’s EEZ as well as taking steps to protect and encourage bull kelp as a significant carbon sink, with a total ban on bottom trawling.

R14 – As fishers in New Zealand’s EEZ produce another 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, they be required to reduce their emissions.

R15 – Protect coastal wetlands as part of a comprehensive approach for mitigating against and adapting to climate change.

R16 – Recognise the conservation estate as an enormously important carbon sink and protect and extend it where possible.

R17 – A radical national-level behaviour change programme is required to shift the personal private vehicle paradigm.

R18 – A radical review of standards will be required to ensure our transport imports are durable, ethically sourced and able to be recycled/repurposed easily.

R19- The whole of life emissions cost of EVs should be understood before committing to this as a nationwide solution. (must demonstrate it conforms to Carbon reduction milestones and long-term solution)

R20 – New housing arrangements need to be designed for multiple mode travel with the focus of movement being on the pedestrian/active modes and public transit rather than the car and should be considered in the RMA reform.

R21 – Greater consideration is needed in relation to shared active transport schemes.

R22 – Develop low-emissions regional public transport networks.

R23 – The advice for agriculture should be fully revisited and the sector provided with a leadership opportunity to demonstrate its ability to reduce emissions significantly.

R24 – Further emphasis could be placed on the repurposing of plantation forestry toward other climate-conscious operations, such as for the development of timber-framed built developments.