OECD Economic Surveys: New Zealand 2011
New Zealand, as a resource-based economy anxious to protect and promote its clean-and-green image, appropriately sees green growth as a natural direction for future development. The country’s environment is of high quality, and depletion of its abundant natural resources is for the most part not a problem. Nevertheless, there are challenges. With little pricing of water resources, water scarcity is being felt increasingly acutely in some dairy-intensive regions prone to drought. Water-quality degradation is linked to leakage from farming by-products. Agricultural activity also gives rise to nearly half the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, though electricity consumption and private transport are growing sources of pressure.
New Zealand’s GHG intensity of output is the second highest in the OECD (after Australia’s), not surprising for a resource-rich country. Its unique emissions profile, however, makes for costly mitigation: an exceptionally high proportion of electricity generation is already renewable-based (mainly hydro), and no technology to significantly reduce methane from ruminant animals yet exists. New Zealand is a pioneer in implementing an emissions trading scheme (NZ ETS) covering all sectors and gases. Green growth could best be supported by the greater use of market mechanisms among a range of instruments in natural resource management and by strengthening price signals in the NZ ETS.