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Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

We’re in a climate emergency. During a time when our friends and family members in Australia have lost their lives, homes, and livelihoods in devastating bushfires, and over a billion animals have died, the time for small, incremental changes has passed.

What’s needed is strong, visionary leadership to urgently power up New Zealand homes, schools and businesses with clean, renewable energy. Now’s your chance to help make that happen.

The Government is consulting on how to boost clean energy in New Zealand. It’s a good first step, but it’s not ambitious enough to tackle the climate emergency. 

We need the Government to match the scale of this crisis with strong policies and funding.

You can have your say now, but time is short. We’ve written a submission for you to send.

You can add your own message and / or edit our suggested submission.

Here’s our suggested submission:

To the Energy Markets team at MBIE,

I’m sure you agree that everyone has the right to be safe and to thrive – our children, communities in New Zealand and overseas, the wildlife and wild places with which we share this Earth. But climate change, and the polluting companies that are causing it, are putting our wellbeing at risk. During a time when our friends and family members in Australia have lost their lives, homes, and livelihoods in devastating bushfires, and over a billion animals have died, the time for small, incremental changes has passed.

While I strongly welcome this strategy to accelerate renewable energy and energy efficiency, the climate emergency that we’re living through requires much more ambition than the outcomes that will flow from pursuing your preferred options alone. I urge you to pursue options that, first and foremost, cut New Zealand’s emissions in line with the science. While it is logical to cut emissions in the most efficient and least disruptive way, the goal of actually cutting emissions cannot be compromised. We need to keep global heating below 1.5°C.

It is worth noting the union movement’s saying, “there are no jobs on a dead planet”. Indeed, there is no economy without a stable climate. It is a fallacy to assume that we can trade off reducing emissions against costs to industry, as is done throughout this options paper. The costs of climate inaction and delay are well-documented and will always fall somewhere – if not onto polluting industries, then onto people, the natural world, the public purse and other sectors.

In response to the options presented, I make the following general comments:

  • We must ban all new fossil fuel heating plants and phase out existing ones by 2030. This means all fossil fuels (not just coal) and all temperature applications. As your own table shows, this has substantially more emissions reducing potential and should therefore be prioritised. As noted above, costs to industry are not an excuse for compromising.
  • Fossil fuel plants used for electricity generation must be closed down. As a first step, these plants should be put into strategic reserve so that they’re only used on the very rare occasions when renewables, batteries and demand-response are insufficient (such as unexpected dry winters).
  • Industries should be required to plan for replacing coal and gas infrastructure with clean energy. They should also be required to implement all eligible, profitable, clean energy projects with a payback under a specified number of years.
  • A levy should be introduced on coal users. It is fair and reasonable that polluters should pay and the revenues be recycled back into solutions.
  • Significant funding and support should be provided for iwi, hapū, communities and low-income people to generate their own clean energy from the sun and wind. This means access to grants, loans and information as well as lowered barriers to entry.
  • A community energy strategy should be developed and funded. There should be a requirement for new energy developers to offer shared-ownership to iwi, hapū and local communities. This is important both in terms of ensuring that the benefits of clean energy are shared fairly and justly, but also to generate community buy-in that will help speed the clean energy transition in line with the climate science.
  • The Government should develop feasibility studies for offshore wind, particularly in Taranaki during a parallel phase out of the oil and gas industry.
  • The Government should provide information on suitable sites for renewable generation. Regulations that unnecessarily present significant barriers to renewables development should be updated.

In addition to the options presented, I urge the Government to take advantage of low interest rates, and provide significant infrastructure support for the development of clean energy, in particular solar and wind. Measures include:

  • Solar should be installed on all suitable Government buildings. Government land (such as Pāmu farms) are also important spaces to pilot innovative energy projects. Any excess energy produced from Government property (e.g. on weekends) can be gifted to those in hardship or to community organisations, such as homeless shelters and women’s shelters.
  • The Government should also roll out a nation-wide solar schools programme, beginning in Northland and the East Cape.
  • Planned social housing upgrades and Kiwibuild should incorporate solar energy, batteries, and passive house standards wherever feasible.
  • The Government should introduce a zero interest loan programme to help half a million households install solar and batteries. Greenpeace has estimated this can be done at a cost of around $33 million a year, over 20 years.

As we’ve seen with the recent $12 billion infrastructure package, the Government can kick-start transformational economic development by taking advantage of low interest rates. These public funds can and should be used to lead the low-carbon transition in a way that is fair and just.

We’re in a climate emergency and must urgently reform our energy system to cut out carbon-emitting fossil fuels. The good news is that the technology already exists to do the bulk of this work. Furthermore, these innovative technologies provide the opportunity for people to participate more directly in energy generation and reap the rewards in lower costs and greater resilience. The barriers are often rooted in outdated structures and rules. These are not fixed. Just as our energy system underwent massive reforms in the 1980s and 1990s, the energy system can be redesigned once again – but, this time, with the aim of delivering cleaner energy, and a fairer, more inclusive and more affordable energy system. Let’s not sacrifice our children’s chance at a decent future for the sake of upholding outdated systems and ways of thinking.