Al Gore and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were headline news Friday, October 12, 2007 for winning, and sharing, the Nobel Peace Prize. But for energy, greenhouse gases and climate change equally significant news came from about as far away from Nobel headquarters in Norway as you can get: New Zealand.
There, in a new energy strategy set by the government, the construction of new fossil fueled powerplants would be banned for a decade.
Though not binding (yet) by law, the New Zealand Energy Strategy is one that lawmakers will follow in the coming months.
Prime Minister Helen Clark said, “The New Zealand Energy Strategy puts our country on an ambitious but achievable pathway towards greater sustainability, and a secure energy future."
"It's important that New Zealand plays its part in tackling climate change. We need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from energy use. This strategy, and its companion document, the New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy, help us do that."
Aside from halting conventional power plant construction, the Strategy sets a bold target of 90 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025, from less than 70 percent now. (Of course 70 percent is quite high compared with most nations.)
Together the plans go beyond power plants. New rules would ensure that by 2015 new and used imported cars would be 25 percent more fuel efficient than those imported now. More diesels are expected to be sold there.
Beyond 2015 the target for transport is halving emissions per capita by 2040. The use of renewable energy from biofuels will increase, and New Zealand aims to be a world leader in electrically powered vehicles, according to Energy Minister David Parker
The government would also focus on better cycling and walking facilities as well as more emphasis on public transportation. The goal would be to find ways to reduce car use with a target of cutting single occupant journeys by 10 percent.
On the home front there would be a focus on energy efficiency and conservation. Upgraded insulation and energy efficiency improvements in 180,000 homes, such as the use of more efficient appliances, are part of the plan.
New Zealand Energy Strategy
New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy