New Zealand launches Scenarios deep dive into energy and transport emissions

Following a successful launch of the World Energy Council’s global 2016 World Energy Scenarios, the New Zealand member committee of the World Energy Council, (BEC) recently released the second in its series of reports on energy scenarios to 2050.

In 2015, the BusinessNZ Energy Council launched BEC2050: two New Zealand-specific energy scenarios – Kayak and Waka. Based on the work of the World Energy Council, these scenarios provided two cohesive narratives about New Zealand’s energy future to 2050 and quantified the outcomes expected under each scenario.

BEC 2050: A deep dive into the New Zealand energy and transport sector emissions’ explores the contribution the energy and transport sectors can make to emission reductions.

In a Kayak world,a global deal on climate change is agreed but international commitments on reducing emissions are weak. Carbon markets develop but are fragmented across ad-hoc regional and national schemes. New Zealand governments turn towards the market to drive the uptake of new low-carbon and energy-efficient technology. There are no direct or indirect support mechanisms for these technologies apart from a modest carbon price.

In the Waka scenario, global leaders unanimously agree that climate change is the defining problem of our time and a comprehensive global deal on climate change is agreed based on strong emissions reduction commitments. In New Zealand, governance and decision-making become more hands-on with climate change mitigation strategies prioritised to meet New Zealand’s international obligations. Emissions from the energy sector are reduced accordingly.

David Caygill, Honorary Chair, BEC commented: “The challenge of meeting our Paris Agreement target of a 30 percent reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 lies ahead of us. In taking our scenarios work to the next level we can now better understand the scale of the challenges and nature of the opportunities to reduce emissions. As a country we aspire to high growth as well as emissions reduction to help us meet our Paris Agreement commitment. We also need to balance this with energy security and affordability.”

“If we knew the future, reducing our energy and transport sectors’ emissions would be easy. But we don’t. Our scenarios help us move beyond the usual practice of assembling disconnected technical possibilities to focus on what levers we have available to practically unlock our emissions reduction potential. Our two scenarios describe different ways the energy and transport sectors can contribute towards emissions reduction. But the scenarios are more than just storylines.

The scenarios also show how different assumptions about the future such as economic and population growth, and the price of carbon, affect how much reduction can be achieved, and which levers should be investigated further by policymakers.

“For the first time across the entire New Zealand energy and transport sectors, we now have modelling that reveals just how sensitive New Zealand’s energy emissions are to the key uncertainties the sector is grappling with – technology, economic transformation, the pursuit of higher renewable energy levels and transport behaviour. With this work we can better understand the range of choices and trade-offs for the energy and transport sectors to meaningfully contribute towards New Zealand’s emission reduction target,” said Mr Caygill.