Interactive dashboard lets users explore long-term impact of different policy settings
Climate-focused kiwi startup Carbon Critical has launched an interactive website that allows anyone to experiment with different theoretical tree-planting scenarios, to understand the long-term impacts of future forestry policies on climate objectives, biodiversity and financial returns for farmers and landowners.
The team at Carbon Critical decided to develop the dashboard in response to a recent proposal from the New Zealand government to ban exotic tree species from being registered as permanent forests in the emissions trading scheme (ETS). Carbon Critical founder Jamie Heather is concerned that such a ban could have a serious impact on New Zealand’s deadline to reach Net-Zero emissions by 2050.
“Most people don’t realise that NZ is one of the worst countries in the OECD in terms of progress and commitments to reduce gross emissions. We’ve been slow to get onboard with tackling climate change and now we are going to need every tool we have available to meet our national obligations.”
Jamie says he understands the concerns around monoculture pine forestry and the desire to preserve native ecosystems, but believes a more balanced and evidence-based approach is needed to achieve the best long-term outcomes.
“The Climate Change Commission has advised that NZ needs to urgently cut gross emissions, but will also need to rely heavily on trees, exotic and native, to reach our net-zero targets. But that measured advice is being lost in an increasingly polarized debate that pitches exotics versus natives”
Sensing a need for evidence-based reasoning in this ongoing debate, Carbon Critical launched its new net-zero web application to encourage more pragmatic discussions and decision making around land-use incentives.
“We wanted to help kiwis understand the tradeoffs involved and let them see for themselves what might happen in the future depending on decisions we make now,” says Jamie. “Exotic trees are good for removing carbon, and indigenous forests are good for biodiversity. We do not have to choose one or the other - we can do both.”
The web application can be accessed at:
Members of the public can learn more about the government proposals and submit their own feedback here:
Carbon Critical, a non-profit, climate impact organisation has been studying the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme and forestry industry for 2 years. The organisation does not own any forests. Carbon Critical is best known for creating the Net-Zero Fund, which allows Kiwis to earn a tax rebate on donations to the world’s most effective climate change charities.
Jamie Heather (Director, Carbon Critical) can be contacted for comment on +64 21 247 2011