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National announces climate policy 

In brief 
  • “Electrify NZ” aims to double the nation’s renewable energy production.
  • They’ll “cut the red tape” by speeding up consents and virtually guaranteeing green infrastructure is consented, provided requisite conditions are met.
  • Greens say National is stealing their ideas. 

Electrify NZ

The National Party introduced “Electrify NZ”, which aims to double the nation’s supply of affordable energy by 2050. National says they want to “cut the red tape” and “turbo-charge” investment into renewable energy.

The goal is to decarbonise the energy and transport sector as part of NZ’s Net Zero programme. According to party leader Chris Luxon the two sectors account for 40% of emissions and would be the largest consumer of renewable energy. 

In order to enact the policy, National says they will: 

  • Turbo-charge new renewable power projects including solar, wind and geothermal by requiring decisions on resource consents to be issued in one year and consents to last for 35 years.
  • Unleash investment in transmission and local lines by eliminating consents for upgrades to existing infrastructure and most new infrastructure. 
National announces climate policy  - Centrist
Chris Luxon wants to double NZ’s renewable energy output by 2050. Image by Päivi Paasikoski – Finnish Government

The party plans to affix two National Policy Statements to the Resource Management Act (RMA) within a year of taking office. Thereafter, provided conditions are met, consents to develop renewables like wind, solar, geothermal and biomass would not be declined.

Unused consents would lapse after 10 years rather than the current five. 

National blames slow and expensive consenting measures under the RMA, which they say holds up development of wind farms and other renewable infrastructure. The consent process is open ended and can take several years, with actual construction taking additional years. 

However, New Zealand Wind Energy Association writes “Not all projects with a consent will be built. Many consented projects are currently on hold as the developer waits for market conditions and demand for renewable electricity to increase to make the wind farm commercially viable.”

On TVNZ Q&A with Jack Tame, National MP Chris Bishop responded by saying that while some consents are held without being developed, the demand for energy in New Zealand is flat. 

The MP said the reason was due to greater energy efficiency through better insulation of housing, for example. The MP also said that demand for electricity was set to rise dramatically with increasing numbers of electric vehicles. 

Greens accuse National of theft

The Green Party says “A visionless National Party has stolen Government policy and rebranded it as their own”. The Greens say much of what National is proposing is already in motion. 

Greens have also criticised National for their 2022 pledge to scrap bans on issuing new offshore oil and gas exploration permits. 

Writing for Newsroom, Marc Daalder says National’s policy lacks the comprehensiveness of the Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan released in 2022 and expects they’ll be attacked for gaps in their policy. But at the same time Daalder doubts voters will be vexed over how much detail National includes in their climate policy come election day in October 2023. 

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