WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand will target halving its emissions from 1990 levels by 2050, a plan that will require major changes to the economy, the government said on Thursday.
"Setting a long-term target provides long-term certainty about where domestic climate change policy is headed so we can plan and invest accordingly," Minister for Climate Change Nick Smith said in a statement.
"Halving New Zealand's emissions is going to require major changes in economy over the next 40 years," Smith said.
The main tool to cut carbon will be the country's emissions trading scheme, with other major initiatives including increasing the use of public transport, energy and biofuels as well as research to mitigate the effects of agriculture, which accounts for almost 50 percent of emissions.
The emissions trading scheme ramped up from July 1 2010, when sectors accounting for about half of all emissions in energy and industry were included. The economically crucial agriculture sector will be included in 2015.
New Zealand's emissions rose by 23 percent between 1990 and 2008 to 74.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
The target will need to be regularly reviewed to take into account changes in technology as well as developments by other countries.
"New Zealand's contribution to global emissions is very small and our objective should be neither to lead nor lag but do our fair share," Smith said.
(Reporting by Adrian Bathgate)