06 October 2016

Policy Update – 6 October 2016

Our fortnightly policy updates keep you up-to-date with the industry.

Government ratifies Paris Agreement

On 5 October New Zealand ratified the Paris Agreement. The Agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with additional efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Prior to New Zealand’s ratification, 63 countries had ratified the Agreement, with these countries emitting around 52% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Agreement enters into force on the 30th day after the date on which at least 55 countries, accounting for at least an estimated 55% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified it.

Under the Agreement New Zealand will need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett notes in her media release that the challenge for New Zealand now is to “develop an effective plan for meeting our target of reducing our emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030”.

To find out more see here and here

Government presents progress and actions to tackle climate change

The Government has released a number of plans and documents setting out New Zealand’s progress and proposed actions to tackle climate change.

New Zealand’s Action on Climate Change, is a short 8 page document that presents information about the Paris agreement, New Zealand’s emissions and actions that have been taken or are being take.

In an associated media release the Minister for Climate Change Issues Paula Bennett notes “From the central and local government’s investment and support, through to research, businesses, iwi and households, there is some really impressive work underway that can give New Zealanders confidence we are on a path to grow with fewer emissions.”

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Meanwhile, the Government has released a plan to tackle aviation emissions. The New Zealand Aviation Emissions Reduction Action Plan has been lodged with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and sets out measures to be taken by government, air traffic control, airports and airlines.

According to the Transport and Associate Climate Change Issues Minister Simon Bridges, transport accounts for 17% of New Zealand’s emissions and “Our key response to climate change is the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme, which was the world’s first major ETS to affect airlines. We’re also addressing the environmental impacts of aviation through economy-wide emissions targets, by promoting biofuels and renewable electricity, and with research on passenger and freight trends that helps inform public and private sector planning.”

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New and Emerging Models of Tertiary Education released

The Productivity Commission has released a draft report titled New and Emerging Models of Tertiary Education. The report is the next step in the Productivity Commissions inquiry and presents a number of findings and recommendations, including recommending:

  • The use of different tools to assess the quality of the tertiary education experience
  • The development of a new quality control regime for tertiary education that encourages innovation, takes a risk-based approach, and enforces minimum standards of quality.
  • Prioritising analysis of the value-add of tertiary education to identify which situations result in the best outcomes for different groups of students.
  • That students be able to mix and match courses from different providers.
  • NZQA be responsible for defining minimum performance thresholds and monitoring provider performance against those standards.
  • The Ministry of Education reform its approach to school-based career education so school students, from an early age, develop the skills and knowledge to make effective decisions about their study options and career pathways.
  • Government consolidate and improve the array of official information sources about study and career options aimed at prospective (and current) tertiary students.
  • Providers developing or adopting frameworks of standards for tertiary teaching for assessing and rewarding the capability and performance of tertiary teachers.
  • Government relax its statutory requirements for research-led teaching of degrees.
  • Government abolish University Entrance, leaving all universities free to set their own entry requirements.
  • Government alter the definition of an equivalent full-time student (EFTS) to allow alternatives to the input-based “learning hour” as a basis of calculation.
  • Students receive an invoice from their provider for government-subsidised education, showing the full price of education, and the Government’s contribution alongside the fee payable.
  • The Tertiary Education Commission should, in consultation with providers, set – and stick to – a reasonable deadline by which they will confirm funding allocations.
  • Future Student Loan Scheme borrowers should be charged interest at a rate that covers government’s costs in running the scheme.

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Finance Minister Bill English and Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce responded to the draft report on behalf of the Government. In their response Minister Joyce noted “There are some proposals that could help to simplify aspects of the tertiary system and to encourage new and innovative models of delivery. We look forward to seeing those further developed. I am also interested in developing the discussion on improving the flexibility and effectiveness of EFTS funding”.

Minister Joyce rejected the proposal that student loan borrowers be charged interest, noting “the government has ruled out placing interest back on student loans and I don’t see anything new in this report which would change that view”.

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