May 5: 350 Aotearoa has released a map of state sector buildings across Aotearoa, which outlines the status of fossil-fuelled public buildings – ‘unfunded’, ‘funded’, or ‘transitioned’. It shows that over 750 public buildings still have no funding to transition away from burning fossil fuels – predominantly gas. The map launch comes after the Government announced on wednesday funding to decarbonise all coal boilers in hospitals and schools – but only some gas and diesel boilers.
“The end of dirty coal in hospitals was a people-powered win – a campaign made up of more than 18,000 New Zealanders. But there was a gas-sized hole in the announcement – over 750 gas-powered public buildings did not receive funding to transition. In the midst of a climate crisis that threatens everyone and everything we love, it is unacceptable for hundreds of our schools and hospitals to continue burning climate-killing gas. We require much bigger investments to replace all fossil fuel boilers in schools, and in the wider state sector,” says 350 Aotearoa executive director Alva Feldmeier.
“Gas boilers in hospitals are responsible for 100 thousand kilotonnes of carbon every year, whereas coal boilers account for just 5 thousand kilotonnes. Gas is the big fish here – and the government must fund the remaining gas-powered schools, hospitals and other public buildings to transition to clean energy. We need to see a commitment to phasing out all gas and diesel boilers.”
The map shows that roughly 60 fossil-fuel powered hospitals remain unfunded – as do around 600 of the schools our children grow up in. All of New Zealand’s fossil-fuel powered prisons remain unfunded, bar one. 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.
“Our government has declared a climate emergency and set a goal for the state sector to be carbon neutral by 2025, and it needs to back this up with the final few pieces of funding to decarbonise our public buildings. Everyone has the right to breathe healthy air in our public buildings. Today’s announcement is a big step towards the finish line – now is the time to finish the job, and fund the decarbonisation of all our public buildings,” says Feldmeier.