Climate activist and independent guest blogger Adam Currie argues the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund presents an environmental fork in the road for New Zealand.
The $50 billion COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund is both an opportunity to move us towards a clean, low-carbon future, and a risk that could lock investments into low-value, high- emissions industries that will pollute our air and leave our children with a financial and ecological debt to pay.
Every subsidy we offer - and every economic stimulus we adopt - must move us toward clean energy. If recovery packages are not invigorated into the clean initiatives that will move us into the future, they will be spent on propping up old, dirty industries.
While the $640 million on rail and couple of hundred million spent on other emissions-reducing projects look good on paper, they are dwarfed by the $5.3 billion the Government has allocated for building new roads; a spend that could drive up emissions in the transport sector; a sector that already accounts for 40% of New Zealand’s carbon emissions.
On top of this, they’ve required new infrastructure projects to be ‘shovel-ready’ within 6 months; projects that are generally old-school, unimaginative, and high carbon, such as roads to nowhere and irrigation dams in places unsuitable for agriculture. Visionary, clean ideas are rarely ‘shovel-ready’; meaning many of these projects will only drive up carbon emissions.
There is no time better than the present to rethink our use of fossil fuels, the fuel of the past, the fuel that is driving climate breakdown and setting Papatūānuku on fire. The voice of the civil society is clear; last year 170,000 marched in the school strike 4 climate and 20,000 have already signed Greenpeace’s Green COVID response petition.
The Government has both an opportunity and a mandate to use the remainder of the CRRF to set Aotearoa on a clean path towards a low-carbon, liveable future.
Westpac supported climate campaigner and independent guest blogger Adam Currie to attend COP25 in Madrid in 2019.