October 14, 2022
New Zealand introduces range of new quasi-taxes to combat climate change
This Alert provides a summary of recent environmental measures proposed in New Zealand that impact a broad range of industries, including agriculture, retailers and automotive in the form of new levies or quasi-taxes.
Given the current Government's given pledge to not introduce any "new taxes" under its current term, it is not surprising that many of these measures take the form of levies or quasi-taxes. The Government is also increasing funding available to support emissions reductions and sustainability focused research and innovation, particularly due to the availability of government grants.
New environmental levy for agricultural emissions
The New Zealand Government announced1 a proposal to introduce a world first pricing mechanism for agricultural emissions, separate from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) that was introduced in New Zealand in 2008, to take effect from 1 January 2025.
In summary the proposals include:
Revenues raised through the scheme would be primarily recycled to fund incentive and sequestration payments, as well as research and development (R&D) into tools and technology to help lower on-farm emissions. Farmers that take up on-farm emissions reduction technologies and practices could become eligible for these incentive payments.
The Government is seeking feedback on these proposals, and public submissions will close on 18 November 2022. Final decisions are expected to be made in 2023, ahead of the 2025 application.
Container Return Scheme
Earlier this year it was proposed that a Container Return Scheme should be introduced from 2025. It is proposed that a 20-cent refundable deposit would apply to single-use beverage containers. The scheme would apply to containers made from one or more of the following frequently bought beverage container materials:
To manage the impact of the cost of essential goods for consumers, it is proposed that fresh white milk is exempted. This includes cream but not beverages that are long-life or partially dairy based, (e.g., flavored milk, smoothies, drinkable yogurt and plant-based milk alternatives).
The Government will decide on whether to progress with the program later in 2022.
Clean Car Discount
New Zealand implemented a Clean Car Discount from 1 July 2021 which has received wide media coverage.
It seeks to encourage buyer demand for low-emission vehicles by providing rebates for consumers for zero and low-emission light vehicles (e.g., electric vehicles), and requiring a fee be paid by consumers for high-emission vehicles (e.g., diesel and petrol utility vehicles) registered in New Zealand for the first time. The rebates are based on the vehicle carbon emissions per kilometer.
For example, a maximum rebate of NZ$7,500 (excluding GST) can be obtained by consumers for new zero-omitting vehicles. In contrast, consumers will be charged a fee up to NZ$4,500 (excluding GST) for the new high omitting vehicles.
Clean Car Standard
The Clean Car Standard has received less media attention in comparison to the Clean Car Discount but may impact importers significantly as it imposes an additional charge for motor vehicle importers depending on their annual mix of lower emitting and higher emitting imported vehicles.
From 1 January 2023, vehicles with high emissions rating will incur a fee, the higher the emission rating the greater the fee. For vehicles that are below a set standard, the importer receives a credit that can be used to offset fees. The Clean Car Standard seeks to encourage importers to bring cleaner cars into New Zealand.
Congestion also appears to be on the horizon for urban centers in New Zealand.
In May 2022, New Zealand's first Emission Reduction Plan was published by the Minister of Climate Change.2 It contains a key initiative to look at congestion charging as tool to reduce transport emissions and the Government is considering progressing legislative changes to enable congestion charging. If the Government decides to progress, it will principally work with the Auckland Council to design such a regime but will also work with other councils in New Zealand at their request.
Grants and incentives
Finally, similar to the trend seen overseas, the New Zealand Government is continually releasing funding in the form of green grants and incentives. Many businesses are taking advantage of this funding.
The major grants currently available include:
It is anticipated that this trend will continue in the coming years as the New Zealand Government looks to promote R&D into sustainable practices that support New Zealand's net-zero targets.
For additional information with respect to this Alert, please contact the following:
Ernst & Young Limited (New Zealand), Auckland
1 Further information on these proposals is available in the Government's media release available on the Beehive website here.
2 For further information on the Emissions Reduction Plan refer to the Ministry of the Environment website here Emissions reduction plan | Ministry for the Environment.