New Zealand’s emissions reduction targets

This page provides information on New Zealand's emissions reduction targets.

About our targets

The Government has four national targets for reducing New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions that cover both the medium and long term. 

Our targets are:

  • a provisional post-2020 target of 30 per cent below our 2005 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2030 
  • an unconditional target of five per cent below our 1990 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2020
  • a long-term target of 50 per cent below our 1990 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2050
  • a conditional target range of 10 to 20 per cent below our 1990 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2020, if there is a comprehensive global agreement.

New Zealand’s 2030 target

In December 2015, countries met in Paris to establish a new international climate change agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

New Zealand signed the Paris Agreement on 22 April 2016 at a signing ceremony in New York

See the media release: Minister Bennett signs Paris Agreement [Ministry of Foriegn Affairs and Trade website]

An important part of the agreement will be the contributions each country makes to address climate change. Ahead of the negotiations in Paris, all countries were asked to put forward a target to reduce emissions in the period after 2020. These are known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs. 

In July 2015, the New Zealand Government announced that our post-2020 climate change target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. 

View details on Hon Tim Groser’s media statement [Beehive website]
The target has been tabled internationally with the United Nations. New Zealand's target will remain provisional until the new international agreement is ratified.

For a copy of New Zealand’s INDC [PDF, 314 KB] [UNFCCC website]

New Zealand's current target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. The new post-2020 target is equivalent to 11 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. New Zealand will meet these responsibility targets through a mix of domestic emission reductions, the removal of carbon dioxide by forests and participation in international carbon markets.

In November 2015, the New Zealand Government submitted an addendum to our INDC. 

View a copy of the addendum to the INDC [PDF, 218 KB] [UNFCCC website]. 

The addendum clarifies New Zealand’s assumptions about accounting for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and removals from forestry and other land use underpinning the INDC. These assumptions will inform New Zealand’s participation in the negotiations on a new global climate change agreement.

The approach described in the addendum builds on the forestry accounting rules under the Kyoto Protocol which New Zealand currently uses to account for forestry emissions and removals. Under this approach, New Zealand would continue to earn credits for afforestation, and be liable for deforestation, while accommodating the ongoing cyclical effects of forest harvest and regrowth that occur as part of normal, sustainable forest management.

The Government will confirm New Zealand’s final Nationally Determined Contribution, including the international accounting approach to be applied, when it ratifies the new international climate change agreement.  

For further enquiries on forestry and other land use,contact the Ministry for Primary Industries at climatechange@mpi.govt.nz.

For more information on the 2030 target see New Zealand’s 2030 climate change target [Ministry for the Environment website].

New Zealand’s unconditional 2020 target

On 16 August 2013, the Government announced an unconditional 2020 climate change target of 5 per cent below 1990 emissions. For the period 2013-2020, New Zealand has chosen not to commit to a climate change target under the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period. Instead, New Zealand joins countries responsible for more than 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions who have made international pledges under the United Nations Framework Convention (the Kyoto Protocol’s parent body). New Zealand will apply the Kyoto Protocol framework of rules to our unconditional 2020 target to ensure that our actions are transparent and have integrity. 

This unconditional 2020 target represents New Zealand’s fair share of climate change action. It is more ambitious than our target under the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, compares favourably with similar countries’ actions and reflects New Zealand’s national circumstances.  Based on United Nations methodology, this target is equivalent to a 2013-2020 QELRO of 96.8 on 1990 emissions.

New Zealand's 2050 target

A credible long-term emissions reduction target is an important part of ensuring that New Zealand can make a smooth transition to a low-carbon future.

In March 2011, the Government notified in the New Zealand Gazette a target for a 50 per cent reduction in New Zealand greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050.

The 1990 level is based on New Zealand’s gross greenhouse gas emissions as per the agreed accounting rules of the Kyoto Protocol under the United Nations Convention Framework on Climate Change.

The 2050 target is based on New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions and will take into account any removals or emissions arising from afforestation or deforestation since 1990 consistent with the Kyoto Protocol under the United Nations Convention Framework rules on climate change.

New Zealand’s conditional 2020 target

In August 2009, the Government announced a 2020 target range to signal New Zealand’s commitment to comprehensive efforts to address global climate change.

New Zealand is prepared to take on a responsibility target for greenhouse gas emissions reductions of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, if there is a comprehensive global agreement.

This means:

  • the global agreement sets the world on a pathway to limit temperature rise to not more than 2°C
  • developed countries make comparable efforts to those of New Zealand
  • advanced and major emitting developing countries take action fully commensurate with their respective capabilities
  • there is an effective set of rules for land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)
  • there is full recourse to a broad and efficient international carbon market.

New Zealand’s 2020 target was decided following consultation with New Zealand business, farmers, environmental groups, Māori, scientists, academics and other stakeholders.


3 May 2016