John Key's Administration has been lobbied since 2009 by an informal g' />

The Government has set up a group to advise on "green growth" initiatives.

John Key's Administration has been lobbied since 2009 by an informal group of business leaders including Air NZ chief Rob Fyfe and Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall, urging it to get serious and strategic about the potential economic opportunities in clean technology and green growth more generally.

They want a task force to scope those opportunities especially relevant to New Zealand and the impediments to seizing them.

The major green non-government organisations have been advocating the same thing.

The advisory group will be chaired by Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly. The other members are Neville Jordan, Whaimutu Dewes, Guy Salmon, Andrew Pearce, Lain Jager, Peter Yealands and Melissa Clark-Reynolds.

Its terms of reference are to advise on how Government agencies can help exporters extract greater value in international markets from New Zealand's clean, green brand; on the opportunities for development and adoption of new technologies, including clean technology, as well as the smarter use of existing ones, and on the options for small and medium-sized enterprises to move to a "lower carbon" economy.

The initiative was announced by Finance Minister Bill English at the National Party's Bluegreens forum - the party's advisory group on environmental issues - in Akaroa on Saturday.

Greenpeace's Steve Abel said "the world doesn't need us to reduce our emissions. What it does need from us is solutions."

New Zealand risked missing the boat on the opportunities of clean technology, he said, framing the issue as a choice between Danish and Australian models of economic development.

The International Energy Agency estimates it would take additional investment of about US$10 trillion ($13 trillion) in the energy sector over the next 20 years to contain atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at levels consistent with the target of limiting warming to 2C. If New Zealand firms could capture just 1 per cent of that market, it would be worth US$5 billion a year.

But Mr English's comments suggested his sights are set somewhat lower.

"I would guess probably our most significant opportunity is in services exports, rather than manufacturing."

A lot of intellectual capital was tied up in the Government-owned power companies, he said, like Mighty River Power's expertise in geothermal generation.

Partial privatisation would give the generators more scope to exploit those opportunities, without needing to persuade shareholding ministers in a cash-strapped Government that it would be an appropriate use of Crown capital.

"Another thing we could get good at is doing things on a small scale, for example, wind turbines you could put on a house or at the back of the section."

GOVT AIMS FOR EMISSIONS CUT OF 50%

The Government proposes to adopt a long-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 50 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050.

It would represent a cut of 60 per cent from current levels.

The move, announced by Climate Change Minister Nick Smith at a meeting of the National Party's Bluegreens group in Akaroa on Saturday, was dismissed as meaningless window dressing by Labour's environment spokesman, Charles Chauvel.

Dr Smith said such a target was a big ask for a country half of whose emissions came from agriculture and 70 per cent of whose electricity generation was already from renewable sources.

It would require substantial technological innovations, he said, but they were possible over such a timeframe.

A credible long-term reduction target would provide certainty for business over the long-term direction of climate change policy.

But Mr Chauvel said any Government could safely set a 2050 target without worrying whether it will be around to fulfil it.

What mattered was a 2020 target reduction target, he said.

New Zealand's international offer of a cut of 10 to 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020 is subject to a string of conditions.

"They simply can't set a 2020 target," Mr Chauvel said. "Every measure they've taken since coming into office has set New Zealand on a course for more, not less, greenhouse gas pollution."

Dr Smith said the proposed target would be open for submissions until the end of February.

"This long-term reduction target cannot be set in stone and will need to be regularly reviewed taking into account the latest scientific advice on climate change, progress made by other nations, and progress made in the development of new technologies that would enable New Zealand to reduce emissions."