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Greenpeace says the announcement this morning that the Government will establish a clean energy centre in Taranaki is a small step in the right direction.

From the Just Transition Summit in New Plymouth, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson says policy rather than rhetoric will prove whether or not the the Government is genuinely committed to taking action on climate.

“Yesterday we were thoroughly disappointed to see that the Zero Carbon Bill will have no ability to enforce its climate change targets,” she says.

“The only way that a Bill like this could function in practice now is if there are ambitious policies to back it up. A clean energy centre is a step in the right direction, but we need way more policies like this.”

The centre is touted to look at a range of clean energy options, including offshore wind, solar batteries, hydrogen, and energy storage. The Government will invest $27 million into its set up, and a further $20 million over four years towards a science research fund.

Larsson says she hopes the centre is just the tip of the iceberg, and will be followed by significant and direct investment in clean energy infrastructure.

“We’re living through a climate emergency, so let’s act like it. We need sweeping changes across all sectors – from land use, to the way we make and use energy in New Zealand – and we need them now,” she says.

“In terms of agriculture, a good start would be for the Government to stop subsidising agricultural pollution to the tune of $1 billion per year through its exclusion from the ETS. We must also reduce the number of dairy cows in the country, and ban synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, which intensifies dairy and destroys our climate and our rivers.

“In the energy sector, we must end fossil fuel exploration on land and sea, including revoking existing oil and gas exploration permits. We also need significant investment in electric transport and renewable energy like wind and solar and batteries, and a plan to phase out the import of petrol and diesel vehicles.

“If this Government really is about more than just rhetoric, they must prove it. Budget 2019 should be brimming with strong policy and financial commitments that will bring a close to the era of polluting energy and make the transition to clean, affordable energy for New Zealand.”