Phasing out fossil fuels in process heat

Closed 20 May 2021

Opened 8 Apr 2021

Overview

Climate change is a global problem that is having significant impacts on the environment, people and economies across the world. To limit the most harmful impacts of climate change, all countries need to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

New Zealand is committed to supporting a just transition to a low-emissions economy.

Under the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019, the Government has set a 2050 target of net zero GHG emissions (other than biogenic methane) and a framework to guide domestic climate actions as they transition into a low-emissions economy.

Currently under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), regional councils are prevented from considering the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change when making air discharge rules and considering applications for air discharge permits.

These barriers will be removed on 31 December 2021 following changes to the RMA. The changes will allow local authorities to consider the effects of GHG emission on climate change in RMA decision-making, and to “have regard to” emission reduction plans and national adaptation plans  when preparing RMA plans and policy statements.

Read our proposal on phasing out fossil fuels in process heat [PDF 2.6MB]

Why your views matter

The Ministry for the Environment is developing a new national direction - either a national environment standard, national policy statement or both - to help councils' decision-making on greenhouse gas discharges to air.

The national direction will be used as a regulatory tool to develop nationally-consistent rules, with a focus on decarbonise process heat. The proposals include:

  • Implementing the Government's commitment to ban new low and medium temperature coal boilers;
  • Phasing out coal in existing sites by 2037 for low and medium temperature process heat, through re-consenting;
  • Phasing out use of other fossil fuels such as diesel and natural gas by requiring a switch to less emissions intensive fuels such as electricity, unless no economically or technically viable alternatives exist; and
  • Requiring industrial sites above a threshold to have an emissions plan to encourage energy efficiency, best practice, and transition to low-emission fuels.

We are also seeking feedback on releasing non-statutory guidance alongside national direction, which will support decisions under the RMA on all GHG emissions (direct and indirect sources). This would act as interim direction to guide decisions related to GHG emissions until the new resource management system is in place.  

The consultation seeks to:

  1. Achieve national consistency and certainty in the management of industrial greenhouse gas emissions under the RMA; and
  2. Reduce industrial GHG emissions to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and support New Zealand’s transition to a low emissions economy.

The Government is undertaking a comprehensive review of the resource management system which will provide opportunities for reducing emissions in an integrated way.

What happens next

We are processing and summarising public submissions. This will inform and shape our future policy direction which will be announced following Ministerial and Cabinet approval.