The Government's long-awaited plan to tackle greenhouse gas emissions will see over a third of cars on the road be electric or hybrid and high-emitting vehicles banned, but experts have questioned the lack of action around agriculture.
The National Party meanwhile says supports the overall targets and $710 million package for the agriculture sector, but slammed the rest as "corporate welfare".
The plan, unveiled today, outlines how Aotearoa can do its bit toward tackling a climate crisis fast approaching the symbolic 1.5C threshold and reaching the target net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
It seeks to do so first by meeting three emissions budgets initially out to 2035, which have Parliamentary support.
In unveiling the plan Deputy Prime Minister said it was the "most significant day in our country's history on climate action".
The plan focuses on actions in the transport and energy sectors, which make up over 40 per cent of emissions.
Transport makes up 17 per cent of total emissions and had increased 76 per cent since 1990.
The transport sector will get a $1.2 billion boost, including $569m for the Clean Car Upgrade - a scheme to shift low-income households to electric and hybrid vehicles, building on the feebate scheme.
There is also just over $650m to support industry decarbonise over the next four years, and another $330m in the three years after.
The money comes from the newly-established Climate Emergency Response Fund, with $2.9 billion initially out of a total $4.5b to be derived from Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) revenue.
Agriculture will get $710m over the next four years to help lower emissions in the sector and develop "green fuels".
This included $339m to accelerate technology, including establishing a Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw said the plan would "lay the path toward a net zero future".
Shaw said equity was a major focus of the plan and that climate action should not "further entrench inequality".
Shaw said the plan was based on principles, including New Zealand playing its part in the global effort, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and equity, working with nature to address the biodiversity crisis, and all working together to build a more productive and sustainable economy.
National leader Christopher Luxon said his party had questions about the plan, and he was concerned it was "a poor use of taxpayers' money".
"Too much of the new spending will go to corporate welfare and more working groups," Luxon said.
"The Government is proposing to give hundreds of millions of dollars to companies for investments they should be making anyway," he said, referring to the decarbonising funding.
However, Luxon said the party did support funding going towards research for the agriculture sector to cut emissions, and expanding options for carbons sinks including native forests and blue carbon.
National has backed the Government's emissions budgets, which are levels of emissions the Government will allow itself to emit.
The long-awaited plan also adopts previously-touted goals of 30 per cent of the light vehicle fleet being zero emissions by 2035, and total driving being cut by a fifth.
By next year measures will be in place to ban the highest-emitting vehicles, or at least impose "very high penalties".
Meanwhile, Greenpeace has called the plan an "Omissions Ridiculous Plan", for its "failure" to address emissions from the dairy sector, which makes up 23.5 per cent of total emissions. Agriculture makes up half of all emissions.
Greenpeace director Russel Norman said the funding for the sector represented "magic bullets" paid out of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which the sector does not currently pay into (plans are for agriculture to be added by 2025).
"This is instead of bringing in policies to cut ag emissions such as phasing out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser or cutting stocking rates (which would also clean up rivers and drinking water)."
The Government did not adopt the Climate Commission's bold proposal to chop dairy, beef and sheep numbers by 15 per cent this decade.
That's largely because the Government is negotiating separately with the industry through the He Waka Eke Noa programme – and big decisions around emissions cuts aren't likely until later in the year.
The plan itself expects just a 0.3 to 3.7MT of C02 equivalent emissions reduction by 2025, however by then the sector will come under the ETS.
Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said while he accepted those initial targets were small he was confident the sector would meet its targets to cut biogenic methane emissions by 10 per cent on 2017 levels by 2030 and by between 24 to 47 per cent lower by 2050.
Greenpeace lead agriculture campaigner Christine Rose said the Government was simply relying on "industry self-regulation through He Waka Eke Noa – which is also expected to reduce emissions by only 1 per cent".
"This is a kick in the guts for New Zealanders who are effectively subsidising the intensive dairy industry due to the industry's exemption from the ETS."
Rose said there needed to be a plan to cut cow numbers, phase out synthetic fertiliser and drive the transition to more plant-based regenerative organic farming.
Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard said such solutions were "short-sighted" and could lead to a food and economic crisis.
Hoggard said the funding for research was crucial, and would give them the tools to reduce emissions as the regulatory framework for the sector comes into play.
"Nitrate and methane inhibitors, gene editing, animals bred for their lower methane 'burping' - they're the kind of advances that will enable New Zealand's farming sector to continue to perform for the nation's economy while maintaining our world-leading meat and dairy carbon footprint," he said.
Asked about National not backing the plan, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson blasted the party's record on climate change and emissions.
He said National needed to front up and explain what, if any, plan it actually had to meet emissions targets.
Asked about criticisms over agriculture, he said the Government was working with the sector.
"There is tremendous possibility and opportunity with the technology being developed...
every sector is expected to pull its weight.
"Every sector needs to contribute to reducing emissions."
Act does not support the budgets and wants to get rid of the Zero Carbon Act altogether and focus on the ETS to lower emissions.
Leader David Seymour said the plan was a "bonanza for bureaucrats and travesty for taxpayers".
He said the Government should capped emissions under the ETS at the same level as trading partners.
"That would meet our climate commitments and allow consumers to choose how they limit their emissions. If you emit less, you keep more of your own money," Seymour said.
"Instead, the Government has chosen the most expensive and bureaucratic possible route to emissions reduction. They've maximised political theatre while actively rejecting the least-cost path to emissions reduction during a cost of living crisis."
Te Pāti Māori has said it does not support the emissions budgets as they do not go far enough.