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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a May news conference in Queenstown, New Zealand. Photo: Joe Allison/Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a speech Wednesday that the climate crisis was a matter of "life or death," as a blueprint for meeting her government's ambitious green targets was unveiled.

Driving the news: The Climate Commission, an independent body advising the government, outlines in its report what the country needs to do to meet its target for 2050 of producing zero carbon emissions — including reducing biogenic methane emissions by 24% to 47%, with no new household gas connections by 2025.

Why it matters: While the goals are ambitious, what's particularly notable is it's unusual for a nation to have a methane target (the U.S. doesn't have one) — especially a country like NZ, where agriculture is the largest sector of the tradeable economy, contributing to 5.1% of the GDP in the 12 months to September 2020.

  • Per a government statement, New Zealand is the "first country ... to legislate for a price on agricultural emissions and we'e currently building the world’s only farm-level emissions measurement, management and pricing system, which will come into effect in 2025."
  • For the country to meet its methane target, herd sizes would have to decrease by 10% to 15%, according to the report.

Zoom in: The commission provides three pathways for the government to follow to keep within the proposed emission budgets.

  • For biogenic methane, this means cuts of 8% by 2025, 12% by 2030 and 17% by 2035.
  • It also recommends phasing out fossil-fuel-powered vehicles by 2030 to 2035, when almost all cars imported should be electric, according to the report.

Of note: This 2035 phase-out target for sales of new internal combustion engine vehicles is in line with several other governments, including California's.

Yes, but: For New Zealand to meet its electric vehicle target, the country would have to increase its market share from the current 1-2% to 50% in the next 10 years, the Guardian notes.

What they're saying: Ardern said in her speech that the report "reminds us that meeting our climate targets is achievable and affordable with existing technology."

  • She said in a separate statement that the commission "makes clear for the first time that delaying action will only make the effort harder and more expensive for the economy in the long run."
  • Ardern noted the report "predicts that not taking action now will cost us 2.3% of GDP by 2050, almost double the cost to our economy of acting now."

What's next: The government will announce its final Emissions Reduction Plan, based on the commission's guidance, by the end of this year.

Go deeper: Prime minister pledges 100% renewable energy generation in New Zealand by 2030

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jun 7, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The global stakes of Biden's infrastructure negotiations

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The infrastructure drama enveloping Capitol Hill could spill onto the global climate stage.

Why it matters: Major new U.S. investments and policies could help spur other nations to take more aggressive and tangible steps to cut emissions. But failure to steer major new initiatives through Congress could hinder the White House diplomatic posture as the U.N. conference looms.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jun 8, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The huge gap between today's policies and Paris goals

Data: Resources for the Future report; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The think tank Resources for the Future on Tuesday released its latest report comparing various projections and scenarios around emissions, energy demand and more.

The big picture: The energy analyst hive mind is pretty united around the conclusion that nations' current and planned climate policies won't come close to meeting the goals of the Paris climate deal.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jun 7, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Putting Big Oil's green spending in context

Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

An International Energy Agency report puts some context around how much the world's largest oil companies are investing in clean energy.

The big picture: The chart above shows the combined investments of a collection of roughly 20 giants, including Shell, Exxon and BP, but also state-controlled companies like Saudi Aramco and China National Petroleum Corp.