The Emissions Trading Scheme - What it is, what it does and how to join it.
Landowners new to the ETS and wanting to know how to join it should find the following guides useful. Most of them are official papers from MPI but they are not all easy to find. The others are commentaries from Motu Research, which give context.
There are two basic things to understand before you start:
- The ETS rewards you for sequestering carbon if it's the result of something you've done that would not otherwise occur. This is "Additionality." They won't reward you if the carbon storage would have happened anyway.
- To qualify for the ETS you have to have a forest in the ground. That means you must spend the money to establish it before you learn whether or not it qualifies.
Once you have digested that try the reading list below. It may give you enough of an understanding to ask the right questions. This is the order I suggest:
- Start with the 2018 A Guide to the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme from Motu Research, which explains almost the whole scheme in 15 pages.
- Follow with the 2015 An Overview of Forestry in the Emissions Trading Scheme from MPI, which explains forestry's role in an easy 4 pages.
- The 2010 A Guide to Classifying Land for Forestry in the ETS (42 pages) is the authoritive document that you have to fully understand.
- The 2018 A Guide to Mapping Forest Land for the Emissions Trading Scheme tells you how to map the blocks that you want to register (40 pages). This is important.
- The 2015 Joining the Emissions Trading Scheme is a quick 3-page guide to how you might register once you have worked out that both your land and your forest are eligible.
- The 2017 A Guide to Carbon Look-up Tables for Forestry in the Emissions Trading Scheme tells you how many carbon credits you might earn from different forest types over time.
- The 2020 Motu report Decision trees: Forestry in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme post-2020 gives you a good summary of the situation at the moment.
- Motu’s most recent commentary, Guide to the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme - 2022 update is a refresh of their 2018 guide with the latest changes included. Unfortunately it’s twice as long so it’s best to end rather than start with this one.
If you work through this list you will be more informed than most, and in a good position to question anyone who offers you professional advice.
Howard Moore, September 2022.