Climate – Breaking Down the Budget

Default Profile ImageBen O'Connell
Breaking Down the Budget

Just like our planet, things have heated up regarding environmental issues and the 2024 Budget, which the coalition National-led Government recently released.    

Climate Change Minister Simon Watts says responsible and effective climate-related initiatives that support New Zealand’s reduction of emissions and adaptation to the future effects of climate change are a priority.   

“Our Government is committed to meeting emission reduction targets, including the overall goal of carbon net-zero by 2050 while continuing to prepare New Zealand for the more frequent severe weather events that climate change will bring.

“Budget 2024 makes new investments in support of these goals, including funding specific climate resilience projects like stop banks and floodwalls through the Regional Infrastructure Fund, a $200 million boost for the Rail Network Improvement Programme, and extending the reach of the Waste Disposal Levy to support a wider range of waste related and environmental activities.   

“The Government can also confirm that around $2.6 billion of high-value climate change initiatives previously funded by the CERF will continue. These include a public network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, a grant scheme for clean heavy vehicles, and a fund for decarbonising the public transport fleet.

Further, it is supporting local authorities to purchase electric buses, public transport concessions for community service card holders, development of an on-farm emission measurement scheme, supporting New Zealand’s International Climate Finance Commitment, and the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme.

“Budget 2024 provides the foundation for us to reduce our emissions and increase our resilience while ensuring that our response is providing value to hardworking Kiwis,” Simon Watts says.  

Waste Levy Revenue

Environment Minister Penny Simmonds says revenue from the Waste Disposal Levy will be spent on a wider range of projects supporting the environment, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and waste minimisation.

“The Government will introduce a Bill as part of Budget 2024 legislation which expands the scope of activities the levy can be used for under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008,” Penny Simmonds says.

“In addition to investments in waste recycling and recovery infrastructure, the central Government portion of the waste levy can now fund a broader range of environmental outcomes, such as restoring freshwater catchments.

“The proposed changes will allow the levy to be used for costs associated with the disposal of waste generated by an emergency such as a cyclone and to clean up contaminated sites and landfills vulnerable to severe weather events – before they cause a problem.

“Through the expanded scope of the levy, we can take proactive steps to protect the environment as natural disasters arise more frequently due to the effects of climate change.”

“Just Hot Air” says Labour

Labour climate spokesperson Megan Woods said the National-led government has shown that all its talk about meeting climate targets is just hot air as it has cut more than $3 billion in climate-related work.

“Ending the Climate Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and initiatives funded from it to date alone amounts to more than $ 3 billion in cuts to climate work and nothing to replace it, taking us further from our climate targets and further from the decarbonised economy we need to ensure the next generation has a stable climate and secure livelihoods.

“They’ve chosen to do this to pay for reckless tax cuts that won’t compensate households for the loss of free prescriptions, half-price public transport or healthy school lunches.”

“Coalition of Cowards” says Greens

The Green Party says actions speak louder than words, and this Government’s attack on the climate will ripple through generations.

“The other day, Government parties said, ‘Drill, baby, drill,’ and today, they may as well have said, ‘burn, baby, burn’,” says Green Party co-leader and climate spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick.

“What remains of climate action funding is not nearly enough to meet the scale of the climate crisis. The Minister of Climate Change needs to front up and explain how big a chasm his government has created in the emissions budgets that it signed up to, and how they plan to make up for that.

“Greenhouse Gas figures released by Stats NZ showing further decreases in emissions are proof that the Green initiatives of the last two terms were working. Government investment in the decarbonising industry, together with a higher carbon price, drove the reduction in industrial emissions, while the clean car discount made a big dent in our overall emissions.

“The irony is that the Government’s plan to rely on the Emissions Trading Scheme is even more tenuous than before because the Government has cut the funding for improving ETS market governance, meaning we risk creating a Wild West of dodgy carbon trading.

What’s Cut?

Per a Green Party media release, in addition to previously announced climate funding cuts such as the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry fund, Budget 2024 cuts funding across a range of programmes contained in the Emissions Reduction Plan, including:

· Mātauranga Māori-based Approaches to Agricultural Emissions Reduction

· Agricultural Emissions Pricing policy work

· The development of a Circular Economy and Bioeconomy Strategy

· The Community Renewable Energy Fund

· The Support for Energy Education in Communities programme

· ETS market governance improvement funding

· The Just Transitions work programme

· The Transport Choices program to reduce vehicle kilometres travelled

· Public transport workforce sustainability funding