The latest research and data analysis from the Fossil Free State Sector Coalition has revealed that not only is the decarbonisation of schools in Aotearoa underfunded but that the Ministry of Education has actively advocated for the implementation of over 40 new fossil fuel boilers in the past 10 years. Actions across the country are being organised this week to bring together students, teachers, and local communities to raise awareness and call on the government to fund all schools to transition to 100% renewable energy.

A thorough investigation has revealed that despite the Carbon Neutral Government Programme, which has committed $219.5 million towards state sector decarbonisation, and the government’s announcement that it will transition the state sector off fossil fuels, government funding from the Ministry of Education is still flowing into new fossil fuel heating installations. 

Schools rely on Ministry of Education 5 Year Agreement funding, and as recently as 3 years ago, were being recommended to transition to gas in order to receive the Ministry of Education’s 5YA funding. 

We are calling for a ban on all new installations of, or transitions to, fossil fuel heating sources in New Zealand. In the last 10 years: 

  • 27 schools have transitioned from coal to gas / oil / diesel instead of moving off fossil fuels 
  • 16 schools have installed new fossil fuel boilers instead of installing cleaner alternatives
  • 54 schools still burning fossil fuels are not on the Ministry of Education’s list (OIA)

The government also stopped releasing lists of fossil fuel emitting institutions in 2011, meaning the issue could be much larger than discovered. We advocate for an annual report of all fossil fuel emitters within the state sector.

Tim Jones of Coal Action Network Aotearoa said “We’re delighted that the Government has made a commitment to getting coal boilers out of schools, and decarbonising the state sector. But so far, the headlines and the promises haven’t been matched by action. All too often, bureaucratic rivalries and lack of high-level commitment within Ministries mean that boiler replacements are being delayed. We need to see bolder thinking and better execution of the Government’s decarbonisation agenda because there’s no more time to waste.” 

Executive Director of 350 Aotearoa Alva Feldmeier said, “Hundreds of people across Aotearoa are gearing up to raise awareness about and call on the government to fund all schools to transition. Communities across the motu are standing alongside principals, educators and Boards of Trustees to ensure the Ministry of Education prioritises the health and wellbeing of our tamariki and climate.”

“The science is clear that we need urgent action to stop any new fossil fuel expansion and keep the majority of existing fossil fuels in the ground. For this to happen, our government needs to commit to getting coal, oil, and gas out of schools,” said Feldmeier.

Hailey Xavier, Student from Ōtepoti says “Getting fossil fuels out of schools is vital for student health, student education, and students’ future. I expect the government to take necessary action to safeguard the wellbeing and success of rangatahi by listening to what scientists have been saying for years. The government owes students a clean, safe, fossil fuel free future.”

Alicia Hall from Parents for Climate Aotearoa said “Schools are the heart of many communities in Aotearoa. We want to see our Government step up their commitment to ensure every school warms their classrooms with clean energy. This means funding and replacing ALL fossil fuel burners by 2025 as promised.”

Dermot Coffey, Convenor of OraTaiao: NZ Climate and Health Council joined the call on our government to “follow up their aspirational talk with proper action, and appropriately fund the replacement of fossil fuel burners in schools, and indeed in all public buildings including hospitals.”

“Air pollution in Aotearoa causes over 1,200 premature deaths per year, and a significant proportion of this is derived from fossil fuel burning, as well as its contribution to hospitalisations from asthma and respiratory infections. The main burden of these is borne by children living in poorer and more marginalised circumstances. These are only the immediate effects however- the long-term climate impacts on our children from fossil fuel burning are even more important. In order to optimise the health and climate gains, we encourage a switch to reduced heat loss in buildings and electric space heating where possible, or to biomass boilers at a minimum”, concluded Coffey. 

Event details:

Dunedin, Saturday 30th October, 11.30 am – 1 pm

350 Dunedin is hosting a Fossil Free Schools Picnic in the Octagon, to raise awareness about the 44,000 students in Otago and Southland that are attending schools reliant on burning fossil fuels to keep students warm. 77% of the 138 in Otago and Southland are still burning coal which has health impacts on students and communities. 350 Dunedin is asking the public to join their calls and ask the government to fund all schools in Ōtepoti. Local MPs are expected at the event. Musicians and speakers will welcome students, families, and members of the public to games, action taking opportunities and kai from food trucks.

Wellington, Saturday 30th October, 2 pm – 3 pm

350 Wellington supported by NZEI, PPTA and student organiser will meet at Aro Valley Community Centre for a Fossil Free Schools Family Fun Hour. The group is looking forward to sharing more information about the campaign and offering opportunities to take part in actions and activities.

Invercargill, Saturday 30th October, 3 pm – 4 pm
Local climate activists in Invercargill are invited to a Picnic in Queens Park with bubbles for kids, rugs to sit on, postcards and flyers.

350 Auckland has mobilised dozens of supporters to put up posters on their daily walk, write postcards to Budget Ministers and meet for an Online Event to talk about the Fossil Free Schools Campaign on Wednesday 3rd of November.



Alva Feldmeier – Executive Director 350 Aotearoa 022 4378715

Dermot Coffey – Convenor OraTaiao