“The end of dirty coal in hospitals is a people-powered win – a campaign made up of more than 18,000 New Zealanders. Seven tertiary education institutes are also making headway on replacing coal and gas boilers. After years of campaigning to get the whole state sector decarbonised, today’s announcement feels like the government has finally stepped up their game to tackle some of the biggest fossil fuel boilers. While the job isn’t fully done, our movement should be proud of this success yet remain alert until the 49 boilers in hospitals powered by gas and remaining fossil fuel boilers are funded to transition. 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.
“It’s not just about coal. 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 all hospitals to transition away from all fossil fuels. Until all fossil fuel boilers in the schools, hospitals and the wider state sector are funded to decarbonise, it is premature of Climate Change Minister James Shaw or the Government to claim that patients, healthcare workers and students have clean air to breathe. We need to see a commitment to phasing out all gas and diesel boilers.”
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 public 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, and yet right now, 94% of beds in hospitals rely on fossil fuel heating. 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.
NZ Government’s Press Release, including list of funded institutions: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/