Greenpeace is urging the Government to prioritise ‘future-ready’ over ‘shovel-ready’ job solutions in this week’s Covid Recovery Budget.
Greenpeace Executive Director, Dr Russel Norman, says with the budget dubbed “Rebuilding Together”, the Government must look at the recovery with a long-term lens.
“We’ve heard a lot about so-called ‘shovel-ready’ projects to get people back to work, but that’s not all we need,” he says.
“Jobs are a priority, but they need to be created in the right industries. We need more people working in growth areas like renewable energy, sustainable transport and regenerative farming, which have a clear future in a post-Covid world.”
Norman says Greenpeace has outlined a list of future-focused projects in its Green Covid Response policy document, which was delivered to Government in late March.
“Thursday’s budget will be a defining moment for New Zealand, because it will have impacts for generations to come”, he says.
“With an unprecedented injection of public money into the economy, this is a unique opportunity to build back better.
“We must be bold and forward-thinking about how we spend these billions. We cannot be left with a string of white elephants, like irrigation dams and motorways to nowhere.
“There are vital choices to make now. We must build rail, not roads, and we must invest in renewable energy, not fossil fuels. We must invest in a shift to regenerative agriculture, not prop up old ways of farming that pollute our water and drive climate emissions.”
Greenpeace has also proposed that the Government creates a one billion dollar fund to help farmers make the transition to regenerative agriculture.
The Covid-19 crisis has already highlighted the importance of protecting nature. There is growing evidence that environmental destruction and the massive expansion of industrial agriculture into the wild have increased the possibility of new animal diseases, like Covid-19, transmitting to humans.
Norman says that as the post Covid-19 rebuild begins, it’s vital to use it as a moment to invest in people’s wellbeing by tackling underlying issues like inequality.
“All of us are part of nature. We must choose to protect it, and not the polluters who are trying to destroy it. For the sake of our public health, and to overcome the twin crises of the climate emergency and ecological breakdown, we must put people and planet at the heart of our Covid recovery,” he says.
“In doing so, we must also honour Te Tiriti through partnership with Māori in all aspects of decision-making. Our economic response to Covid-19 must have Māori at the forefront of decision-making, and be grounded in Kaupapa Māori.
“It’s our young people who will need to deal with the debt from our economic response to Covid-19. It would be an immense injustice if we didn’t use this moment to create a more secure and resilient future for our children and grandchildren.”
In summary, Greenpeace says that investments announced in the Government’s ‘Rebuilding Together’ Budget should include:
- A $1 billion regenerative farming fund: new plant-based food factories and compost plants, as well as grant funding for farmers to take up regenerative techniques like agroforestry.
- Significant investment in public and active transport: electric buses, trains and cycleways.
- Support for home insulation, heat pumps, home solar and batteries and community wind.
- Sizeable investments in conservation: pest eradication, native forest planting, including on erosion-prone land and riverbeds.
- Investments in electric transport: rail, EV charging networks and introduction of the feebate scheme.
- Upgrades to drinking and wastewater, including maintenance of natural infrastructure (e.g. wetland restoration and stream fencing).
- Investments in domestic reuse, recycling and the circular economy (incl. a nationwide container deposit scheme) to combat plastic pollution.