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Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

Greenpeace is quietly applauding the Government’s conservation, freshwater, rail and small home insulation measures announced in today’s Budget.

However, Executive Director Dr Russel Norman says “looking at where money’s gone in the massive spend-up, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the climate crisis was no longer with us.”

11,000 environment jobs have been announced adding up to $1.1bn, including $433 million set aside mostly for freshwater restoration projects. 

“Nature needs a break, and that’s a good start. The freshwater restoration money will help fix some problems, though it doesn’t change the agricultural system that is continuing to cause harm.”

“There’ll be 9,000 warmer Kiwi homes from a $56 million boost, but just to put that in perspective there are 600,000 under-insulated homes in New Zealand, impacting people’s health.” 

Also rail projects will get more than $1.2 billion which Dr Norman says is encouraging.

“These were things we’ve been pushing for,” says Dr Norman. “Money spent in these areas will create jobs and provide some improvements for the environment.”

 “Unfortunately there’s only loose change from Grant Robertson’s pocket to address our most pressing existential challenge – climate change. Under current policies New Zealand is on track to increase net emissions by 20% from 2005 to 2030 according to Government projections.

“The Finance Minister talked about Covid-19 being a one in a hundred year threat, but climate change is the threat that will decide if we have another hundred years on this planet.”

Greenpeace says there’s very little in today’s budget to bring about the transition of our biggest climate polluter, industrial agriculture – such as the Regenerative Farming package promoted as part of its Green Covid Response policy document.

And there appears to be nothing to support the rollout of household solar panels and batteries, which the grid operator Transpower has identified as key to decarbonising the energy system.

With Finance Minister Grant Robertson signalling that several large announcements are yet to come, Greenpeace is calling on the Government to show courageous leadership to protect future generations.

“When he starts allocating that remaining pot of $20B, Mr Robertson and the Government will need to focus on the future and the main threat to our existence – the climate and ecological crises,” says Dr Norman.

“The Government still has time to show the bold leadership needed to put New Zealand’s economy onto a resilient path. With an election looming just around the corner, they would be foolish to throw young people under the bus or to underestimate the enormous public support for building back better post-Covid.”