Our Research

Shaping New Zealand's low-emission future

Motu is undertaking a multi-disciplinary programme on New Zealand’s pathway to a global low-emission future. It is aimed at making the NZ emissions trading scheme (ETS) effective. The project has run continuously from 2013 and involves significant research, stakeholder dialogue, and international exchange. Check out the blog at New Zealand’s Low-Emission Future.

The programme is developing new and creative ideas to give greater positive momentum to emission reduction opportunities, policies and actions. Once the ideas are formed and researched, Motu will incorporate leading international knowledge, experience, and tools. Possible solutions will be thoroughly tested by experts from a range of perspectives and disciplines.

One of the key ideas is informing people of the actions they could take that would reduce their household's greenhouse gas emissions by the largest amount. The result is the Household Climate Action Tool, which went live in November 2015 and is updated every few years.

The Low-Emission Future project:

  • Undertakes research that asks 'how can New Zealand best respond to uncertainty in the rewards for mitigation investment?' and 'how can New Zealand link its ETS to developing countries to fund effective mitigation outside New Zealand?' We are also studying how technology spreads.
  • Documents the history of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) and evaluate its operation and impacts. We are also conducting empirical work on consumption emissions.
  • Facilitates dialogue between the private sector, government, academia and non-governmental organisations to generate and share innovative ideas. The focus of the dialogue is on creativity and rigorous analysis rather than reaching an immediate consensus.
  • Promotes international exchanges among technical experts and emerging researchers.

To undertake this project Motu received core grant funding from the Aotearoa Foundation, established by Julian Robertson, and co-funding from Meridian Energy, Z Energy, the Ministry for the Environment, and Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. We continue to seek additional co-funding, so if you are interested, please contact us now.

The Low-Emission Future project is supported by an Advisory Board bringing perspectives from government, the private sector, academia, and NGOs from New Zealand and abroad.


Aotearoa Foundation, NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, Ministry for Primary Industries, The Deep South: Te Kōmata o Te Tonga, NZ Climate Change Research Institute, Tindall Foundation, Mighty River Power