“While we are a small contributor to global emissions, as a country surrounded by oceans and an economy reliant on our land we are not immune to the impact of climate change, so it’s critical we pull our weight,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement.
Ardern and Climate Change Minister James Shaw said in their joint statement that the previous target was not consistent with global efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
New Zealand’s previous target was to bring emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
The 2015 Paris Agreement committed signatories to keeping global warming to “well below” 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, and preferably to 1.5 degrees, but carbon levels in the atmosphere have since grown.
“This decade is make or break for the planet,” Shaw said in the statement. “To stand a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 Celsius, the science shows we now have about eight years left to almost halve global greenhouse gas emissions.”
The New Zealand government has introduced several policies to lower emissions during its second term including promising to make its public sector carbon-neutral by 2025 and buy only zero-emissions public transport buses from the middle of this decade.