New Zealand launches Climate Change Commission

By on 05/01/2020 | Updated on 04/02/2022
Minister James Shaw says the commission will help government to solve climate change and make New Zealand’s communities cleaner and healthier. (Image courtesy: Janiere Fernandez, Pexels).

New Zealand has set up a Climate Change Commission, tasked with providing independent advice to the government and monitoring and reviewing the government’s progress towards emission reduction and adaptation goals.

The Crown entity has been established as part of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019, which came into force on 14 November. The bill provides a framework for reducing emissions and achieving climate resilience.

One of the commission’s tasks will be to recommend to government the country’s first three carbon budgets, covering the period to 2035. It is to make its budget recommendations by 1 February 2021. The government is not obliged to comply with its recommendations, but will be required to respond.

James Shaw, New Zealand’s climate change minister, announced the creation of the commission in mid-December.

“Some issues are too big for politics, and the biggest of all is the climate crisis we face,” he said. “Our decision to create the Climate Change Commission was about protecting climate policy from political mood swings, meaning every future government can stay focused on the job at hand: to help solve climate change and make our communities cleaner and healthier.

“We provided a bold legislative framework for what we need to do to build a climate-friendly future for New Zealand; it is the commission who will now advise us on how best to do that.”   

Broad expertise

Five commissioners have been appointed: Dr Judy Lawrence, a thought leader with international expertise in climate change adaptation; Dr Harry Clark, an expert on agricultural greenhouse gas research; professor Nicola Shadbolt, a farmer, company director and academic with expertise in land use and land-use change; Professor James Renwick, a leading climate scientist and a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Science Prize for Communication; and Catherine Leining, a New Zealand economist specialising in climate policy and emissions pricing systems.

The team – which will pick up the work started by the Interim Climate Change Committee (ICCC), which was appointed in May 2018 – will be led by chair-designate Dr. Rod Carr, and deputy chairperson, Lisa Tumahai.

Carr has a PhD in insurance and risk management, led the University of Canterbury through its recovery from a major earthquake in 2010, when he was vice-chancellor, and is a former deputy governor and chair of the Reserve Bank. Tumahai is a former deputy chairperson of the ICCC. She has close ties to Māori people and will help the commission understand Māori perspectives.

Time for change

Carr told New Zealand’s Morning Reporton 18 December that in order for low emissions targets to be reached, consumer preferences will have to change and the economy will have to be reorganised.

“I think we’re all going to have to change; each of us individually, small businesses, big businesses, local government, central government, manufacturers.

“That’s a process that we need to gather evidence about, we need to explain what we think we’ve found in that evidence and then we need to think carefully about the timing and plans to give effect to our international treaty obligations – under the Paris agreement – and also what’s in New Zealand’s interests as well.”

He told the Morning Report that the commission had a statutory obligation to engage with communities, seek evidence and consult before tendering its advice.

“Looking ahead to a future where we have met our targets and done all we can to solve climate change, it will be in no small part thanks to the Climate Change Commission,” Shaw said. “Whilst it is an advisory body, I fully expect that the impartial and scientifically rigorous analysis it will provide will help keep future governments’ climate policy in check.”

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.


  1. Paul says:

    what if new science proves Carbon is unrelated to Climat Change? How can politicians get rid of this Commission?

  2. Ace says:

    What if new science that the earth is flat, and that aliens secretly rule us all hidden as lizard people? How can politicians get rid of your brainworms Paul?

  3. P Black says:

    Curious as to the impact of major fires during summer as in Australia current and are a regular feature..only the extent of the burning seems to be the question Are these influences factored into plans… Especially when the evidence of discoloration of the glaciers and our skies were noted ??? And that doesn’t count our own NZ experiences

  4. Glenn McKenzie says:

    A good start but dominated by the privileged – we need more grass roots and Maori involvement

  5. Pamson says:

    Hi buddy! awesome sharing with full of information. I was searching for your complete guidance gave me a wonderful end up. Great going.

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