Greenpeace says they are underwhelmed by today’s energy announcement from the Labour Party. The environmental organisation says that while the policy includes some positive steps for decarbonising New Zealand’s energy system, it’s nowhere near bold enough, especially given the size of the Covid Recovery budget.
Labour announced on Thursday they’ll move the 100% renewable electricity target forward by five years to 2030. The policy also includes commitments to investigate pumped hydro storage and green hydrogen. The party will re-introduce the ban on new thermal electricity plants, remove barriers to consenting renewables, introduce fuel efficiency standards for cars and support some private sector decarbonisation.
Notably the policy doesn’t include commitments to introduce the electric vehicle “feebate” scheme or to phase out coal and gas used in industrial heating. Transport is New Zealand’s fastest-growing source of emissions. And industrial heating is responsible for a greater share of carbon emissions than the electricity sector.
“The policy includes steps in the right direction. But Labour is slowly tip-toeing forward when they should be taking the big, bold strides that we need to address the climate crisis.” says Greenpeace climate & energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson.
“Right now, the world is quite literally on fire with unprecedented wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest, California and Siberia. The apocalyptic scenes from San Francisco are coming through less than a year after the devastating Australian bushfires covered New Zealand in a red haze.
“Climate change is knocking on Jacinda Ardern’s door and asking when exactly that ‘nuclear-free moment’ is coming. We didn’t see it today.”
Given that the Government is spending billions on the Covid Recovery, Larsson says the policy looks “stingy”.
“There has never been a greater need to transition our economy and society so that they work within the natural boundaries of our climate. And there has never been a greater opportunity, either – with billions of dollars on the table for the Covid Recovery.”
“A bold energy policy should include big investments in energy efficiency, like insulating New Zealand’s 600,000 under-insulated homes. Millions of dollars in support for new clean energy projects, particularly household- and community-owned solar and wind schemes should also be on the table.
“Banning new thermal electricity plants is only solving a small part of the problem. We need to see a quick phase out of fossil fuels used in industrial heating plants and a ban on the import of fossil fuel vehicles by 2030. This is where the lion’s share of our emissions is coming from.
“It’s really disappointing to see that Labour is offering nothing to discourage the uptake of big gas guzzlers and nothing to support regular people to purchase low emissions and electric cars.”
Larsson says Jacinda Ardern’s Labour party seems to have mislaid the courage it showed when first elected into Government. In early 2018, Ardern announced a ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration permits in response to the climate crisis. The move made New Zealand a ‘role model’ for bold climate action.
“Putting a stop to the industry that is driving climate chaos was a really bold and courageous move. The next step is a huge investment in boosting clean electricity and shifting transport and industry onto clean fuels.”
“Labour is tip-toeing forward but isn’t living up to its promised ‘nuclear-free moment’.