Together we let the government know that Aotearoa needs more funding allocated towards a cleaner and healthier future! The Fossil Free State Sector Coalition’s research has discovered that the state sector urgently needs funding to decarbonise all public buildings. Together we are advocating for an Aotearoa where our children can breathe clean air and patients and healthcare workers are kept warm and well by renewable-powered heating.
On December 15th 2021, our government released the ‘Budget Policy Statement’ for the budget 20221. The Budget Policy Statement sets out the government priorities for the 2022 Budget (to be released in May), which determines how our public money will be spent in the coming years.
Government spending in the 2022 Budget is paramount for a just transition away from fossil fuel infrastructure and to 100% renewable energy. This budget is not just important for the present year, but the medium and long term future. It determines how much money will be available to spend on things like climate change response, mitigation, and adaptation, not just for 2022, but in the years to come. Given that we are at a pivotal point in deciding how New Zealand will handle climate change in the coming years (our First Emissions Reduction Plan will be published in May as well), ensuring that sufficient funds are allocated towards a just transition in this years budget will be critical to ensure a safe climate future.
We know how easy it is for government decisions to feel distant from our everyday lives, but we have seen time and time again how decisions made in the budget directly affect our futures. Making sure our voices are heard now will ensure climate justice is front and centre for our government making decisions in the coming months. In the past two weeks, we mobilised dozens of people to make a submission on the Budget Policy Statement 2022 using this guide to tell our government that now is the time to take action against climate change!
See below the submission we made as a Coalition:
Fossil Free State Sector Coalition Submission
The Fossil Free State Sector Coalition (FFSSC) was pleased to see that the Budget Policy Statement includes significant funding ($6 Billion) towards the Climate Emergency Response Fund (CERF). We agree that funding needs to be allocated rapidly towards Climate Change Response, as stated in the third overarching goal of the wellbeing response. We also agree that a key policy focus should be ‘making progress towards our emissions reduction goals’ as stated in the key policy focus areas.
In our view, we do not only need to ‘lay the foundations for the future climate change response,’ but instead, act now. Climate change is a challenge that is already affecting te taiao and the livelihoods of the people of Aotearoa and frontline communities across the Pacific and the world today, and thus, it must be regarded not only as a long-term challenge but also acknowledge the urgency of the crisis and the need to consider present day and medium term response.
We, therefore, hope to see the full decarbonisation of the state sector included in the funding allocated under these policy objectives.
The FFSSC is a coalition of organisations working together to achieve a fossil free state sector. The coalition includes the following organisations: 350 Aotearoa, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, OraTaiao: New Zealand Climate and Health Council, School Strike 4 Climate, Parents 4 Climate Aotearoa, Post Primary Teachers’ Association and New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa.
Collectively we represent thousands of people across Aotearoa united by our vision for a clean-powered, equitable and just future for all. We believe that fossil fuels have no place in the boilers that warm our schools, hospitals, prisons and other public institutions. Together we are building public support and the social license for our government to prioritise state sector decarbonisation to lower our overall carbon emissions, improve the quality of the air we breathe and send a clear message that the days of burning dirty fossil fuels like coal, gas, and oil are over.
We are working to achieve:
- A commitment to transition all existing fossil fuel boilers to renewably sourced power by 2025 and additional budget allocation to support the transition.
- An immediate ban on all new fossil fuel boilers in state sector buildings.
- The release of clear steps on the application process for grants from the Clean Powered State Sector Fund to make it accessible for all state sector institutions to apply to the fund.
- The publication of a list of all state sector institutions, including local authorities, that are still burning fossil fuels for heat.
- In response to the Budget Statement released on December 21st 2021, we as a coalition demand that the final budget will include sufficient funding to decarbonise the State Sector in its entirety and eliminate fossil fuel boilers through an increased budget for the Clean Powered State Sector Fund. This is backed by Recommendation 21 of the He Pou A Rangi 2021 report: Reduce emissions from industry recommendation, point number 4: “Ensuring no new coal boilers are installed and setting a timetable for the phase out of fossil fuels used in boilers (see also Recommendation 20, on energy)”, and aligns with both the second overarching goal of Climate Change Response and the policy focus area of lowering emissions.
- Currently, there has been $219.5 million allocated towards the decarbonisation of the state sector, however, this is not nearly enough to facilitate a just transition in the State Sector. Our research and analysis has concluded that the government will need to allocate at least $1billion (see Table 1. below) towards decarbonisation of the state sector in order to eliminate all fossil fuel boilers including fossil gas, diesel and oil from state sector institutions and buildings.
- It is important that the government prioritises decarbonising the state sector as it is directly under the Government’s control and because it sets both an example and helps to build capability and capacity for the decarbonisation of Aotearoa. The state sector, unlike the private sector, relies heavily on said funding to be able to eliminate fossil fuel burners from their institutions. This includes schools, hospitals and prisons, where service users are some of the population’s most vulnerable persons.
- Using burners in order to provide heating in hospitals, schools and prisons add to increasing air pollution and carbon emissions. It has been proven that children are the primary population impacted by fossil fuel combustion emissions and climate change. In allocating funding towards reducing carbon emissions, and decarbonisation of the state sector, those primarily affected by pollution and climate change will have better health outcomes.
- We as a coalition acknowledge that the need for a ‘Just Transition’ has been clearly stated within the budget statement and we, therefore, expect that relative funding will be allocated in Budget 2022. We hope that Budget 2022 reflects this through devoting resources and attention to our most vulnerable communities such as minority groups and lower socioeconomic status communities, and ensuring that adaptations are accessible to everyone. We expect funding will honour Te Tiriti through partnership with Māori in all decision-making, be grounded in kaupapa Māori, and uphold indigenous rights as stated through He Ara Waiora.
- We assume that a ‘Just Transition’ also means a timely and effective transition. We want to see funding that is able to be easily accessed and implemented in a timely fashion. Currently of the 8% of schools that have been funded for decarbonisation, only 2% have actually transitioned. The funding will need to be implemented immediately if the 2025 target of a ‘carbon neutral’ public sector is to be reached.
- The Government has pledged to have a ‘carbon neutral public sector’ by 2025, we also recognise that the risk of the wording ‘carbon neutral’ means that offsetting carbon emissions could be utilised. We would like to see a pledge to decarbonise the public sector and see initiatives funded that will support the direct decarbonisation of the sector.
- We were pleased to see $800m of funding going towards the support of our Pacific neighbour countries, considering their frontline position in the climate crisis. This is an especially pressing issue following the aftermath of the 2022 Tongan volcanic eruption and the volatility of the climate.
- Expand the budget allocation made to the Clean Powered State Sector Fund to provide sufficient funding for all remaining public sector buildings to transition from all fossil fuel boilers, not only coal boilers, to renewables by 2025. Based on the numbers of boilers we have identified via Ministry of Education data the decarbonisation of the entire state sector would require up to $1.6billion. We are convinced this would be an investment that impacts short, medium and long term emission reduction goals, and would save the government additional costs in the long term due to the increased price of fossil fuels and carbon offsetting, not to mention health care due to poor air quality.
- Swiftly reduce free allocations under the Emissions Trading Scheme, ensuring that heavy emitters – many of whom are overseas-owned – are no longer incentivised to prolong carbon emissions at taxpayer expense. Reducing free allocations will help to increase ETS revenue and hence funding available to the CERF.
- Ensure that budget funding is not allocated towards carbon offsetting and rather long term sustainable zero carbon initiatives.
- Ensure sufficient funding is allocated that enables a timely transition towards renewable energy in the state sector.
- Make further budget commitments to ensure the approach to climate action supports workers and communities, especially those most vulnerable, towards a low-carbon future and centres the lived experience of frontline communities that are already facing the worst impacts of climate change.
- We recommend that in order to achieve better health outcomes for children and more so the wider population based on reduction of particulate air pollution, renewable electric powered energy should be prioritised over heating through biomass or wood chips. We acknowledge that the move to biomass fuels and wood chips would indeed be a move in the right direction, however, it would still cause unwanted emissions.
|Boiler numbers||250k/ boiler||550k / boiler|
|Education (Primary / secondary)||1140||$285,000,000||$627,000,000|
|Total in state sector||1719||$457,750,000||$1,007,050,000|
(Table 1: 350 Aotearoa research based on obtained OIA’s and MoE data, 2021).