New Zealand premier Ardern launches NZ$100 million fund to spur green investment

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a new NZ$100 million ($69.28 million) green investment fund on Wednesday, aimed at boosting private-sector participation in a campaign to achieve zero net carbon emissions by 2050.

FILE PHOTO - New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern speaks during the 2018 International Conference of Sustainable Development (ICSD), part of World Leaders Forum at Columbia University on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

“This new investment fund is an important component of New Zealand’s plan to build a clean, sustainable, low-carbon economy that has both lower emissions and profitable enterprises,” Ardern said in an emailed statement.

Her center-left government, which also shares a governing support arrangement with the Green Party, has made tackling climate change one of its top priorities.

The 2050 target would put New Zealand in the vanguard of climate change with Norway aiming for net zero emission by 2030 and Sweden by 2045, both by buying international carbon credits and planting trees.

However, New Zealand faces a number of challenges in reaching the 2050 target, including reliability issues, when switching the last roughly 20 percent of the power that is produced from fossil fuels to renewable sources.

The economy also relies heavily on agriculture, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions globally.

The green fund would likely target electric vehicles, manufacturing, farming practices and energy-efficient commercial buildings, Ardern’s statement said.

The government announced in April that it was halting new offshore oil and gas exploration permits as part of efforts to convert the nation to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.

The measure was criticized by some businesses which said they were not given enough warning, and that the move would scare off investors.

($1 = 1.4434 New Zealand dollars)

Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield, editing by Eric Meijer