Billions more trees needed to meet Zero Carbon target
THE AMBITIOUS PLAN TO CUT NEW Zealand’s greenhouse gases to become a zero carbon economy by 2050 will mean substantially more trees are needed than the current target of one billion.
Government-commissioned research projects an additional 10% of land may need to be reforested, according to Climate Change Minister, James Shaw.
The Minister’s comments came as the government prepares to introduce the Zero Carbon Bill to parliament, which began with a public consultation phase that finished on July 19.
Mr Shaw says the zero carbon target provides New Zealand with an opportunity to show leadership in developing technologies to reduce emissions in the transport and agriculture sectors – the two largest emitters.
But technology break-throughs will take time to achieve and, in the interim, many more trees will need to be planted to help the country overcome its emissions deficit.
In fact, billions more trees will need to be planted to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, says Massey University’s Professor of Energy Research, Ralph Sims.
He goes on to say that while agriculture has many opportunities for the future, the path to zero emissions would be an “incredibly difficult” one and “planting trees is only a short-term option, (but) once you keep planting trees and end up with the entire country covered in trees, what do you do?”
The government’s current plan is to plant one billion trees in ten years, which actually translates to 500 million new trees, as the other half would be made up from re-planting existing forests that have been harvested.