Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser has called for public submissions on New Zealand's post 2020 climate change target.
Having missed the deadline to submit its 'Intended Nationally Determined Contributions' ahead of this year's critical UN climate summit in Paris, Groser has invited Kiwis to have their say on what they think those targets should be.
The National Government has come under pressure for greenhouse gas emissions rising strongly during its term in office, stalled international efforts for climate deals such as the Kyoto Agreement, the watering down of the Emissions Trading Scheme and the current trajectory looking like emissions will increase up to 50% in the next decade.
Failing to take action on climate change, by cutting New Zealand's emissions, will be extremely expensive to the New Zealand economy, says the Green Party, in response the release of an unbalanced and inaccurate Government discussion document on the target they will take to the critical global climate conference in Paris later this year.
The discussion document, and a range of other information, can be found on the Ministry for the Environment's website here.
The Green Party is calling on the Government to at least match the European Union's pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, and has criticised the discussion document.
"The Government's consultation document is seriously flawed. It treats action on climate change as a cost, whereas, in fact, failure to take action is actually the cost," said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.
"The New Zealand Treasury found that if New Zealand continues on its current trajectory of increasing emissions, the cost to taxpayers of even a modest 5% reduction target will be up to $52 billion. Reducing our emissions will lower this cost.
"But beyond the fiscal cost of inaction, report after report has found that moving to a low-carbon economy is a major economic opportunity, yet this Government continues with its twentieth century mindset of seeing emission reductions as a cost.
"Fighting climate change need not cost households. The Government is trying to make New Zealand pledging a decent target look expensive to suit its political goal of doing nothing.
"The Government has written a consultation document to suit its head in the sand approach to protecting our economy and environment from the threat of climate change.
"The Government's discussion document tries to paint them as victims of a unique set of circumstances outside of their control, as opposed to being the actual authors of the policies that have led to massive emissions increases.
Youth climate change group Generation Zero has welcomed the Government's announcement of consultation on New Zealand's post-2020 climate change commitments but criticised the lack of information provided.
"We are pleased that New Zealanders will have a chance to express their views on climate change action to the Government through written submissions and public meetings," said Generation Zero spokesperson, Paul Young.
"Forget about the flag - this will be the most important consultation this year and Kiwis who care about the future young people are inheriting should make sure they have their say."
"This is the first real opportunity in six years that Kiwis have been given to talk with the Government about its overall climate change response."
"A four-week consultation period is nowhere near long enough for such an important national debate, so we are also pleased to see Minister Groser promising a longer conversation about domestic policies.
"However, we are very disappointed by the lack of evidence and background information the Government has provided."
"For example, why is there no bottom-up analysis of what could be done to reduce our emissions?"
"The discussion document makes a number of claims about cost but we have no idea what assumptions have been made. Does this consider the cost of doing nothing, or the benefits of a cleaner economy?"
"The Government needs to front up and release all of the analysis and modelling to give us the fair, open and well-informed discussion we deserve."
Submissions close at 5.00pm on Wednesday 3rd June.