Bil­lions more trees needed to meet Zero Car­bon tar­get

New Zealand Logger - - Forest Talk -

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.


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