WELLINGTON, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins on Tuesday acknowledged the country was facing challenges in meeting future climate and energy commitments.
Collins released a statement on the publication of a review of New Zealand's energy policies by the International Energy Agency (IEA), a body within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which reviews the policies of member countries about every five years.
The review said New Zealand's growing energy needs had outpaced improvements in energy efficiency, mainly because of the country's expanding economy and growing population over the past decade.
While New Zealand had set ambitious goals to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, it would have to adopt policies supporting the energy system transformation, encouraging greater energy efficiency, electrified transport and expanding renewable energy in the buildings, heat and industry sectors, it said.
"We have one of the highest percentages of renewable electricity generation in the world. But like any other country, there are challenges in meeting our future energy and climate commitments," said Collins.
"The IEA recommends greater energy efficiency and using our renewable energy advantage in the transport and industrial sectors," she said.
"The IEA praised our electric vehicles program, which is targeting carbon emissions in the transport sector."
New Zealand's government has come under fire in recent years for failing to have an adequate plan to meet its climate change commitments, and for encouraging oil and gas exploration.
On Tuesday, the opposition Green Party criticized the government over plans to open up 75,180 square kilometers of gas hydrate reserves off the east coast to extraction.
"We know that, if we're going to limit dangerous global warming, fossil fuel companies simply cannot burn the oil and gas reserves they already have. Opening up massive areas of ocean to extract more is simply adding fuel to the fire," Green Party co-leader James Shaw said in a statement.