Policy Quarterly, Vol 12, No 2, 2016, pp. 3-12.
The aim of this article is to contribute to this process of policy reflection by exploring strategic options for New Zealand to accelerate its emissions reduction. The distinctive element of this analysis is its critical analysis of the main narratives that have shaped recent New Zealand climate policy, identified from published documents and 23 interviews with politicians, government officials, industry leaders and independent commentators in 2015. The general tone of these narratives, we argue, portrays New Zealand’s climate policy options as inherently constrained by its inability to influence global emissions and the economic risks of adopting more ambitious climate measures. These narratives are then subjected to critical scrutiny through a review of the major stakes facing New Zealand on climate issues, before the final sections of the article explore how some constraints might be reinterpreted to advance key aspects of New Zealand’s mitigation policy while still guarding against identified economic and social risks.