Budget 2021: Big investment into climate change, emissions, environment

Author
Michael Neilson, NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Thu, 20 May 2021, 3:05PM
(Photo / Mark Mitchell)
(Photo / Mark Mitchell)

Budget 2021: Big investment into climate change, emissions, environment

Author
Michael Neilson, NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Thu, 20 May 2021, 3:05PM

MAIN POINTS:

  • $300 million to accelerate investment in low-carbon technology.
  • $67.4m to implement the Carbon Neutral Government Programme, including a significant boost of $19.5m to the successful State Sector Decarbonisation Fund, and $41.8m for leasing low-emissions vehicles.
  • Commitment to recycle future Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) revenue to achieve more emissions reductions from Budget 2022.
  • $344m for major redevelopment of Scott Base in Antarctica to deliver "critically important" climate change research.
  • $32m to roll out a National Pest Management Plan to protect kauri from dieback.

A major redevelopment of Scott Base in Antarctica will create hundreds of jobs while delivering "critically important" climate change research, the Government has announced.

Budget 2021 includes funding of $344 million for the project, which will deliver 170 jobs at the peak of construction and more than 700 jobs over six years.

"Doing nothing would eventually lead to the closure of the base," Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said.

Included in the Budget were also a range of new funds and policies to reduce New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions, and set it on a path to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw said the Climate Change Commission would soon provide final advice to the Government on the steps that need to be taken to build a net-zero carbon future for Aotearoa New Zealand by 2050.

Once the Government receives that advice it will publish a plan setting out how it will cut emissions over the next 15 years.

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson said he was working closely with Shaw on how to fund New Zealand's climate ambitions.

Robertson also said they would ringfence revenue from the Emissions Trading Scheme for implementing of the forthcoming Emissions Reduction Plan, which must be published before the end of the year.

Shaw said the changes to the ETS was a "game-changer".

"That is forecast to provide approximately more than $3 billion of investment over the next five years to help meet our emissions reductions goals," Shaw said.

Budget 2021 includes $300m to accelerate investment in low-carbon technology.

Before today's Budget, Shaw had announced $67.4 million over four years to support the Government's promise for a carbon neutral public sector by 2025.

This included more low-emissions cars in its fleet and clean alternatives to replace coal burners in schools and hospitals, expected to cut carbon emissions by 76,000 tonnes over 10 years.

The bulk of it - $41.8 million - is for leasing low-emissions vehicles across the public sector, which follows the Government abandoning its previous target of having an emissions-free fleet by 2025/26.

The State Sector Decarbonisation Fund will also be boosted by $19.5 million so schools, hospitals and other government organisations can replace coal boilers.

The redevelopment of Scott Base would ensure New Zealand maintained a presence in Antarctica while creating hundreds of jobs and ensuring "critically important" science work could continue, Mahuta said.

"This investment will ensure Scott Base remains a place where our scientists can conduct world-leading science safely and effectively.

"Their research to understand how climate change affects Antarctica, and the flow-on impacts to Aotearoa New Zealand and the rest of the world, is critically important."

Budget 2021 also included funding for 47,700 homes to receive insulation and heating retrofits and more support for transport and businesses to reduce emissions.

The Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund (LEVCF) would become the Low Emission Transport Fund (LETF) to reflect a change in eligibility for projects in areas like aviation, and maritime and for off-road vehicles, Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods said.

Other fuel technology projects using biofuel and hydrogen, will also now be eligible for funding.

Meanwhile, more businesses will be able to make the transition to low-emissions energy, with Government funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority's (EECA) support services for business increasing to $8.1m a year.

"A big part of decarbonising our economy means understanding what options there are to transition, developing plans to get there and support for bringing on new technology. This all makes it easier for businesses to move toward clean and clever energy use," Woods said.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor also announced a range of funding designed to reduce New Zealand's farm emissions.

"As an agricultural nation, there is a lot riding on our ability to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions," O'Connor said.

New Zealand aims to cut biogenic methane emissions to between 24 and 47 percent below 2017 levels by 2050 – this includes reducing them to 10 per cent below 2017 levels by 2030.

"This new Budget investment will supercharge and streamline efforts. Getting the right result will actually add value to our exports.

"High-value consumers abroad want to know they're buying food and fibre that are quality, ethical and sustainable."

Funding includes $37m towards national integrated farm planning system for farmers and growers, $24m towards agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation research and development; and $900,000 to collect vital statistics on agricultural production, such as greenhouse gas emissions.

The measures would ensure up to 40,000 farmers and growers had the tools they needed to improve on-farm performance and meet freshwater and greenhouse gas requirements by 2025, O'Connor said.

New funding will also boost research and development in technologies to reduce agricultural emissions.

Environment Minister David Parker announced a $131.8m investment in the design, enactment, transition, and initial implementation of recommended resource management reforms through to mid-2024.

Budget 2021 also included investments to protect kauri, introduce hi-tech biosecurity safeguards and bring a greater focus on animal tracing to support the eradication of Mycoplasma bovis.

For the fight against kauri dieback, $28m (as part of $32 million over five years) was included to roll out a National Pest Management Plan to protect kauri from dieback.

"Our kauri forests are an incredibly important taonga for Aotearoa New Zealand and our Government is taking action to ensure they remain standing, healthy, and strong," said Shaw, who is also Associate Minister for the Environment.

"Right now these iconic trees face potentially fatal threats from kauri dieback. Stopping the spread of the disease needs increased support and resources – and this Government is providing that.

"Today's announcement builds on the work of existing kauri programmes and will help to contain the disease while a cure is found."

In the biosecurity sphere there would be $8.9m set aside for advanced screening technology to strengthen biosecurity management of the growing mail pathway and $22.5m for the National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme (NAIT).