Te wāhi ki te Kāwanatanga ā-motu

Role of central government

​The government’s main framework for action on climate change is the Climate Change Response Act 2002. It sets long-term, national targets for emissions reduction and a framework for improving climate resilience, with direct implications for Auckland and Auckland Council.

The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019 (‘Zero Carbon Amendment Act’) provides a framework for New Zealand to develop climate policies that contribute to global efforts to limit average temperature increase, and to allow for the preparation and adaptation to the effects of climate change.

The Zero Carbon Amendment Act set up new domestic greenhouse gas emissions targets, established a Climate Change Commission and requires government to development and implement policies for climate mitigation and adaptation. The Ministry for the Environment is leading the coordination and development of the National Climate Change Risk Assessment and the National Adaptation Plan, in response to this Amendment Act.

Beyond these, there is other supporting and related legislation, policy and investment that have implications on climate actions in Auckland.

Examples of supporting and related legislation, policy and investment

Legislation and regulation

The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme is a market-based tool that puts a price on emissions to help incentivise emissions reduction. It is administered through the Climate Change Response Act 2002. It has been ineffective at reducing our emissions. Given new international obligations under the Paris Agreement, improvements have and will continue to be made to update the Scheme

The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) guides the sustainable management of resource use and environmental impacts of activities. While climate change is recognised as principle in the RMA, its current focus is adapting to the impacts of climate change, rather than emissions reduction. A package of resource management reforms is being considered and this may result in a greater emphasis on both climate mitigation and adaptation. It is hoped the reforms will build consistency with the Zero Carbon Amendment Act 2019

The Local Government Act 2002 sets out the general framework and powers under which local authorities must operate. Under this Act, Auckland Council must promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of communities in the present, and into the future. This includes climate related matters such as water provision, sanitation and infrastructure, transport, public facilities, financial investment etc.

The Building Act 2004 regulates building work; which includes building construction, building materials and altering, maintaining or demolishing buildings . It works alongside other legislation for health, safety, consumer protection and land use. All building work must meet performance standards set out in the Building Code. The Building Act and the Building Code are important in supporting sustainable building – such as energy efficiency, waste reduction, building material. However, some standards in the Building Code can go against delivery of our climate goals. Council’s long-standing position is that changes are needed in the Building Code to better progress climate mitigation and adaptation.

The Waste Minimisation Act 2008 encourages the reduction in the amount of waste we generate and dispose of in New Zealand as well as to reduce the environmental harm of waste.


National Policy Statements are instruments of the Resource Management Act 1991 that set out broad policy direction on topics of national significance. National Policy Statements can guide and direct local authorities on matters of climate mitigation and adaptation.

National Policy Statements currently in effect include:

  • National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity
  • National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management
  • National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricity Generation
  • National Policy Statement for Electricity Transmission
  • New Zealand’s Coastal Policy Statement.

National Environmental Standards are regulations under the Resource Management Act 1991. These regulations prescribe technical and non-technical standards, methods, or other requirements that local authorities must adhere to.

National Environmental Standards currently in effect include:

  • National Environmental Standards for Air Quality
  • National Environmental Standards for Sources of Drinking Water
  • National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities
  • National Environmental Standards for Electricity Transmission Activities
  • National Environmental Standards for Assessing and Managing Contaminated Soil to Protect Human Health
  • National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry.

There are other national policies that relate to climate change matters that are set under other pieces of legislation. The National Policy Direction on Pest Management sets out requirements for developing pest management plans and programmes under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

A Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Land Transport identifies funding priorities under the National Land Transport Fund over 10 years.


The New Zealand Wellbeing Budget is the overarching investment framework for all programmes, services and infrastructure .

The current budget references climate change as a complex problem requiring new ways of thinking more broadly about budgets and integrated outcomes. The budget allocates funding for research on agricultural emissions and development of new energy technologies to support the low emissions transition, among other things.

The $100 million New Zealand Green Investment Finance (NZGIF) investor fund was launched as part of Budget 2018 . Independent from government, it operates as a company in order to be flexible and responsive to the market. NZGIF aims to accelerate investment to reduce emissions.

The National Science Challenges were launched in 2014 to tackle significant national issues. Top scientists across disciplines and cross-sector collaborators compete for over $680 million in funding over the 10-year term of this research programme. Climate change is related to most challenges.

Auckland Council has had direct involvement with the following national challenges:

  • our land and water
  • resilience of nature’s challenges
  • the Deep South National Science Challenge
  • biological heritage.

It is vitally important that central and local governments work together, and as Treaty partners with Māori, in order to progress climate mitigation and adaptation.

Related links

National Policy Direction for Pest Management 2015 (PDF, 6.81 MB )