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The case for an indigenous carbon credit premium in New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme

Authors: Leo Mercer*,
Topics: Land Use and Land Cover Change, Indigenous Peoples, Australia and New Zealand
Keywords: carbon farming, emissions trading, indigenous land development, co-benefits, payment for ecosystem services,
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This research has explored the preferability of land use options suitable for Māori land on the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island, with a particular emphasis on the applicability and feasibility of native forest carbon farming within the Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS). If Māori landowners wish to establish native forest carbon sinks on their land, recognition through carbon markets could serve to recompense Māori for the limited land use options which have arisen as a result of colonisation processes. Participants of this research have called for carbon credits (NZUs) produced on Māori land using native forests to achieve greater market differentiation from those produced through exotic plantation forestry due to the superior environmental and socio-cultural co-benefits associated with native forests. This paper will investigate how NZUs produced on Māori land using native forests can achieve market differentiation – an ‘indigenous carbon credit premium’ - within the NZ ETS. Frameworks capable of capturing the wider non-monetary values associated with carbon sequestration are explored, such as Australia’s Aboriginal Carbon Fund, which verifies and markets the ‘greater good’ associated with co-benefits arising alongside carbon abatement projects on First Nation land. Greater awareness of the ‘indigenous carbon credit premium’ within a New Zealand context can better inform those with liabilities under the NZ ETS of the diverse NZUs on offer, and seeks to support climate change action that has meaningful benefits for the communities where these forests exist.

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