The Government's much-vaunted report card on New Zealand's environment has been criticised by a watchdog, who says it fails to give a clear diagnosis of the country's health.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright said today that the Environment Aotearoa report, published last year, "stops short of drawing clear conclusions on the state of the environment".

Regular, mandatory environmental reporting was the National Party's major environmental policy promise in the 2011 general election.

The first of the three-yearly reports, called Environment Aotearoa, was produced last year, and the environment ministry is also required to produce reports on five key areas every six months (air, climate, water, land, oceans).


Dr Wright is required by law to peer review the reports.

In a commentary released today, she said Environment Aotearoa failed to give any perspective of the seriousness of difference environment issues in New Zealand.

"The need for forward thinking is crucial when it comes to the most serious environmental issue of all -- climate change -- where the future is so much more important than the past," she said.

"For instance, it is very important to convey to the reader that the sea will continue to rise for centuries to come even if global greenhouse gas emissions stopped tomorrow."

The state of the environment report also omitted relevant information.

"For instance, [the report] shows how small New Zealand's emissions are on a global scale, and this could be taken to indicate that it is pointless to try to reduce


"A figure showing our greenhouse gas emissions per capita compared with other countries would convey an entirely different impression."


Dr Wright made a series of recommendations for future reports.