New Zealand’s Emissions-Trading Program, Kiwi Climate Activist–David Yockney, NZ Releases First National Plan to Cope with Climate Crisis

by | Sep 27, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

New Zealand’s Market Based Emissions-Trading Program, Kiwi Climate Activist, David Yockney, NZ Releases First National Plan To Cope With Climate Crisis



A key element of New Zealand’s drive to be carbon neutral by 2050 is its market-based emissions trading program. Under it, companies in carbon-intensive industries must buy credits to offset their emissions. Many of those credits are purchased from forest owners, and as the credits’ price has soared, forestry investors have sought to cash in by buying up ranches.

The country’s emissions trading program is the only one in the world that allows companies to offset 100 percent of their emissions through forestry. (The United States has regional carbon trading initiatives but no national program.) New Zealand has turned so heavily to carbon farming in part because it’s not doing enough to reduce emissions.

Today’s policy decisions are essentially locking in land use for decades. Permanent carbon forests must remain planted with trees, and timber forestry that earns carbon credits is required to replant trees after they are harvested — typically at Year 28 — or face a financial penalty.

The land sales have grown as the price of carbon credits has tripled in the last three years, reaching 80 New Zealand dollars. The increase reflects an imbalance between supply and demand in credits as New Zealand’s emissions remain heavy, as well as the influence of speculators.

At current prices, credits can generate carbon farming revenue of upward of 1,000 New Zealand dollars an acre annually, compared with about 160 dollars for sheep and beef ranches. Why does the Kiwi emissions-based trading program matter to us? Two reasons. First it’s the most comprehensive of its kind and could provide a template. Second, because of how aggressive and comprehensive it is, it’ll be important to track its impacts on New Zealanders in the agricultural industry. Currently only one job is created for every 2,500 acres of forest planted, vs.13 per 2,500 for ranching and other ag use. Without achieving some parity, there could be economic upheaval.




David Yockney, The 74-year-old climate activist has become increasingly disturbed by the changes to his environment wrought by global heating and he is not the only one. New research from the University of Waikato shows that younger and older New Zealanders are becoming concerned about the climate emergency.

The former teacher and video producer remembers hearing early discussions about the climate in the 1990s. His first ethical reckoning came when a scientist from a coal company approached him to make an advertisement “extolling the joys of coal”. At that stage, he did not have a strict set of values on the issue and the “merchants of doubt” – the coal company – were convincing in their rhetoric. He abandoned the project but it would be another 25 years before Yockney would become convinced climate change is real and caused by human activity.

In his retirement, he began reading extensively on the topic and with that came a chance to reflect both on the changes he needed to make personally, and the changes he wanted to see societally.

“You have to make changes. You can’t sit on the sideline. I’m not an angel – I would like to fly around the world and do whatever retired people do – but we do limit ourselves.” That includes riding his bicycle for short journeys, cutting back on meat and limiting his gas heater use, even in winter.

But for Yockney, making personal changes was “essential but not sufficient”. He joined Low Carbon Kāpiti, a grassroots advocacy group that lobbies the local council on climate change. The group’s petition to urge the Kāpiti District Coast Council into becoming carbon neutral by 2050 helped clinch the council’s commitment to that target.

Ultimately, Yockney wants to leave behind a healthy world for his grandchildren. “Our legacy will be a burning-up world and that’s not something I’m particularly proud of. They talk about a death by a thousand cuts, that’s what we’ve been doing. Now we need life by a million cuts – cuts to carbon emissions.”

DEEPER DIVE: The Guardian, Low Carbon Kapiti,



New Zealand has released its first national plan to prepare for the floods, fires and rising seas it expects to be unleashed by the climate crisis in the coming years.

Climate minister James Shaw, releasing the plan on Wednesday, said that while New Zealand would do its best to start reducing emissions, it was also preparing for a likely scenario of enormous climate disruption, and said it was “crucial” the country was prepared.

Said Shaw, “We have already seen what can unfold. Severe weather events that had previously seemed unthinkable, even only a few years ago, are now happening at a pace and intensity we have never experienced before.”

The plan’s release came after weeks of wild weather and flooding across New Zealand throughout July and August. The national Climate Adaptation plan is the country’s first, and is a sprawling document that provides a roadmap for trying to protect infrastructure, housing, cities and cultural treasures as the planet heats.

It looks at the impacts of climate change now and into the future and sets out how Aotearoa New Zealand can adapt. It’s broken out by topics:

  • The natural environment
  • Homes, buildings and places
  • Infrastructure
  • Communities
  • Economy and financial systems
  • Climate action for Maori

Why does New Zealand’s Climate Change National Adaptation Plan matter to us? Because it’s comprehensive and it provides a template.

DEEPER DIVE: The Conversation, NZ Govt., NZ Climate Plan