The Government will require all its agencies and ministries to exclusively buy electric vehicles and will mandate all public sector buildings to be up to a “green standard”.
This is part of the Government goal to make the entire public sector carbon neutral within the next five years.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made the commitments as she declares a climate emergency in New Zealand in the House today.
Speaking this afternoon, Ardern said this was a “declaration bases on science”.
“We must act with urgency,” she said.
This was a declaration grounded in a deep sense of responsibility – a responsibility that people in the Pacific know all too well.
She said the Pacific Island forum has called climate change “our biggest threat”.
The declaration was an “acknowledgment of the next generation,” she said.
“It is up to us to make sure we demonstrate a plan for action, and a reason for hope.”
She said it’s not in Kiwis DNA to turn its back on a problem.
“We will only make progress if see collective action is required.”
Today’s decoration acts as a directive to the wider Government – “it acts as a catalyst for change”.
She said it’s a declaration that shows that “we need to get our own house in order”.
“Globally, we have entered an age of action”.
National’s Stuart Smith said declaring a climate emergency was “nothing but virtue signaling”.
He said today’s motion won’t help bring down emissions.
On the goal to make the entire public sector carbon neutral by 2025, Ardern said before today’s speech “the public sector needs to be, and will be, an exemplar that sets the standard we all need to achieve by 2050”.
“It’s an important step forward in our plan for New Zealand to be carbon neutral by 2050.”
She added that action on climate change is a priority for the Labour Government and an integral part of its Covid recovery plan.
“We need to seize the advantages of a climate-focused recovery and the economic prosperity such a strategy offers.”
The electric vehicle mandate is a lofty goal – there are currently nearly 16,000 vehicles in the Government’s fleet.
Today’s announcement is the first major post-election commitment by the Government – Ardern said the commitments show the urgency of the situation.
The commitments mean Government agencies will be required to measure, verify and report emissions annually.
They will also need to set gross emissions reduction targets, as well as introducing a plan for how they will reduce emissions.
When it comes to vehicles, Government agencies will be required to “optimise their car fleet” by purchasing electric vehicles or hybrids where EVs are not appropriate for the required use.
That is unless their operational requirements or other circumstances require – such as military vehicles where there is no electric alternatives.
As well as this, Ardern has announced that the Government has begun phasing out coal boilers in its ministries and agencies.
There are roughly 200 coal-fired boilers currently heating water and buildings in the State Sector – the largest and most active will be phased out first.
This, and the purchasing of a greener fleet, will be funded through the previously announced $200 million State Sector Decarbonisation Fund.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw said the 2025 goal shows this Government is taking issues of the world’s changing climate seriously.
The implementing of the energy efficiency building rating standard will come into force in January 2026 – that will give the Government time to implement the new mandate.
But, from now on, there will be a requirement to achieve a minimum of 4 stars when establishing new leases and a minimum of 5 stars for new builds.
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