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Infrastructure consenting for climate targets

Client: Te Waihanga / New Zealand Infrastructure Commission

Can New Zealand’s resource consenting system deliver on the 2050 net-zero emissions target?

By 2050, New Zealand’s consenting system from all sectors is projected to increase by over 40 per cent. In electricity alone, generation capacity will need to almost treble to support the electrification of a low-carbon economy.

However, current trends in consenting processes indicate that the system’s ability to deliver necessary infrastructure for meeting national climate targets is in jeopardy. Consent for projects, especially complex infrastructure ones, is becoming costlier, time-consuming, and resource-intensive.
We looked at several scenarios of how consent delays would be exacerbated if the system weren’t reformed.

“We find that New Zealand is at risk of missing between 11% and 34% of the required emission reductions from the energy and transport sectors by 2050 due to consenting delays. To offset the emissions reduction gap may cost New Zealand between $5 and $16 billion by 2050.”

– Sapere

To achieve New Zealand’s net-zero by 2050 goals, we find that comprehensive resource management reforms need to be fully operational by 2028, such that consent processing times are reduced by half from that point.

Listen to a podcast with Senior Managing Economist, Corina Comendant, discussing the report with Te Waihanga Chief Executive Ross Copland.

More information is available on the Te Waihanga, New Zealand Infrastructure Commission website.

Full report

Our team included

  • David Moore 
  • Dylan James
  • Corina Comendant
  • Mehrnaz Rohani
  • Kelvin Woock
  • Jeff Loan

Authors who contributed to this article

Corina Comendant