The Treasury

Global Navigation

Personal tools

Environmental Policy

The New Zealand Government has agreed that sustainable development principles should underpin its economic, social and environmental policies at home and abroad. "Sustainable development" integrates concern for social, economic and environmental issues. It involves thinking broadly about objectives and considering the long-term as well as short-term effects of policy decisions.

New Zealand's low population and limited industrial base means that environmental issues are generally less severe than in many industrialised countries. Many of the big environmental issues for New Zealand are also economic and public health issues. More sustainable use of water, managing marine resources, reducing waste and improving energy efficiency are all essential for creating wealth and quality of life as well as for environmental sustainability. However, the decline of the country's unique plants, animals and ecosystems is New Zealand's most pervasive environmental issue. Programmes are in place or under further development in all these areas.

More broadly, the Resource Management Act provides a national framework for balancing environmental protection with economic, social and cultural values. Local government has the major responsibility for planning and environmental approvals at a local level, with central government providing direction on matters of national importance. During 2009, the Act was amended to streamline and simplify processes and reduce costly delays for developers and investors while still maintaining necessary environmental protections. This has resulted in faster consent processing and improved compliance. A new agency, the Environmental Protection Authority, was created to facilitate decision-making on proposals of national significance.

Climate change presents a particular challenge for New Zealand, from both an international and domestic policy perspective. New Zealand is a small country with a unique emissions profile driven by the predominance of land-use industries. Despite New Zealand's relatively small contribution to global emissions, the government is nonetheless committed to participating constructively in the international climate change dialogue.

New Zealand's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), introduced in 2008, is the primary domestic policy for incentivising reductions in emissions. The first periodic legislative review of the ETS was completed in June 2011. The Review Panel recommended slowing the pace of implementation to align domestic efforts with international action on climate change. The government is scheduled to respond to these recommendations in 2012.

Selected Statistical and Financial Data

Table 2 - Statistical Summary Key Statistics
  2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
  (dollar amounts in millions)
Gross Domestic Product at Current Prices[1],[2] 168,663 181,721 185,220 187,355 198,043
Annual % Increase (Decrease) in Real GDP[1],[2],[3] 0.9% 3.0% (1.5%) (0.7%) 1.6%
Population[4] 4,209 4,251 4,292 4,346 4,391
Unemployment Rate[5] 3.7 4.0 6.0 6.9 6.5
Change in Consumer Price Index[6] 1.8 5.1 1.7 1.5 4.6
Exchange Rate[7] 0.7559 0.7607 0.6374 0.6928 0.8150
90-Day Bank Bill Rate[8] 8.32 8.68 2.78 3.07 2.65
10 Year Government Loan Stock Rate[8] 6.72 6.42 5.97 5.51 5.04
Terms of Trade Index[2],[9] 1122 1242 1074 1210 1295
Current Account Deficit as a % of GDP[2],[10] (8.2%) (8.4%) (5.6%) (2.5%) (3.7%)

 

Table 3 - Government Finance[10]
Year ended 30 June 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12[11]
  (dollar amounts in millions)
Total Revenue 74,589 81,479 79,928 74,725 81,563 83,637
Total Expenses 68,729 75,842 83,329 81,040 99,959 94,446
OBEGAL[12] 5,860 5,637 (3,893) (6,315) (18,369) (10,809)
Gains/(Losses) 2,162 (3,253) (6.612) 1,806 5,036 (1,792)
Operating Balance 8,022 2,384 (10,505) (4,509) (13,360) (12,601)
Operating Balance % of GDP 4.7% 1.3% (6.8%) (2.4%) (6.7%) (6.0%)
Total Assets 180,347 200,835 217,151 223,355 245,215 245,615
Total Liabilities 83,520 95.321 117,636 128,367 164,328 177,333
Net Worth 96,827 105,514 99,515 94.988 80,887 68,282
Net Direct Domestic Borrowing (3,917) 1,721 8,454 8,016 18,362 -
Net Direct Overseas Borrowing 312 (1,296) 717 409 787 -

 

Table 4 - Direct Public Debt
Internal Funded Debt 26,860.4 28,210.4 29,614.5 38,575.5 60,519.9 -
Internal Floating Debt 2,303.4 1,655.0 7,505.0 8,065.0 7,326.0 -
External Debt 2,048.0 2,048.5 4,718.7 2,197.2 214.0 -
Total Direct Public Debt 31,211.4 31,913.9 41,298.2 48,837.7 68,059.9 -
  • [1] Year ended 31 March.
  • [2] 2011 data provisional. Prior years' data revised.
  • [3] Production based - chain volume series expressed in 1995/96 prices.
  • [4] June year resident population estimate.
  • [5] June quarter, seasonally adjusted.
  • [6] Annual percentage change, September quarter.
  • [7] US$ per NZ$ monthly average for June.
  • [8] June monthly average.
  • [9] Year ended 30 June. Base: June quarter 2002 - 1,000.
  • [10] This table is prepared in accordance with New Zealand Generally Accepted Accounting Practice (GAAP).
  • [11] Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update published 25 October 2011.
  • [12] Operating Balance Excluding Gains and Losses. The OBEGAL is the operating balance excluding gains and losses on assets and liabilities of institutions such as the Accident Compensation Corporation, Earthquake Commission and the Government Superannuation Fund.
Page top