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Source: Ministry for Primary Industries

Te Uru Rākau – Forestry New Zealand is seeking feedback on proposed amendments to the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Forestry Regulations that it hopes will encourage new planting of both indigenous and exotic forest.

These latest proposals follow an initial round of public consultation on amendments that was held from November 2019 to January 2020.

Director Forestry and Land Management Oliver Hendrickson says Te Uru Rākau has been considering feedback and worked with forestry experts to refine the proposals relating to the approach to carbon accounting for forestry.

“The proposals provide options for how the new ‘averaging accounting’ method will work for new post-1989 forests that register with the ETS,” Mr Hendrickson says.

“They will determine how flexible or precise carbon accounting will be for future forests in the ETS. This will in turn impact how easy it will be to harvest at different times or change species on a second rotation (for example, changing from radiata pine to indigenous forest). They will also impact the level of administration required by participants and when carbon credits will be earned.

“Ultimately we are trying to make the system simpler for all participants as undue complexity has been a barrier to participation.”

Mr Hendrickson says Te Uru Rākau was keen to understand how people felt about the trade-offs and likely impacts of various options for how averaging accounting will work in terms of the flexibility they offer participants versus how complex they are.

“These options will shape the future of new forests in New Zealand and how they are managed. However, this consultation doesn’t cover existing forests moving to averaging. The decision about whether registered post-1989 forests can transition to averaging will be made by Cabinet by the end of 2021.

“These Regulations implement the decisions and improvements to the ETS which were passed last year while also setting the groundwork for future decisions New Zealand will make to support our climate change strategy. When the Climate Change Commission’s final recommendations are published we will be in a good position to respond.”

Mr Hendrickson says 333, 000 hectares of land were currently registered in the ETS, for which around 6.9 million carbon credits were claimed last year. This is equivalent to the carbon emissions from approximately 2.3 million cars in a year.

“The ETS plays an important part in helping New Zealand meet its international climate change obligations so it’s important that we take the time to get feedback and ensure people understand the changes we are trying to make.”

The deadline for submissions on these proposals is 5pm on Friday, 9 April 2021.

Find out more about the consultation and have your say

Background information

The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is the Government’s principal policy response to climate change.

The ETS is established by amendments to the Climate Change Response Act 2002 made in 2008 to help New Zealand meet its international climate change targets.

The Regulations will provide the detailed rules and settings to implement the policy changes to the ETS made through the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Amendment Act 2020.

The final NZ ETS Forestry Regulations will apply to participants from 1 January 2023. This is when most of the forestry changes from the Amendment Act also apply.