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Climate change

Four candidates have their say.

A questionnaire focusing on climate change, compiled by Bill Hambidge, Gisborne U3A convenor of the Tairawhiti U3A Climate Change Group, was sent to East Coast electorate candidates. Four of the candidates answered. The questionnaire was sent to Tania Tapsell (National), Meredith Akuhata-Brown (Green Party), Kiri Allan (Labour), Blake Webb (ACT), Veronica King (One Party), Jennie Brown (Advance NZ Public Party) and Helena Nickerson (New Conservative). Labour, National, Green and New Conservative candidates answered. They were asked 15 questions, and could add a comment.

It was also sent to Ikaroa-Rawhiti electorate candidates Meka Whaitiri (Labour), Elizabeth Kerekere (Greens), Heather Te Au-Skipworth (Maori Party) and Kelly Thurston (Outdoors Party). Only Meka Whaitiri answered the questions and provided a comment.

1. Do you feel climate change is a serious problem?

Kiri Allan: Yes, we understand that if the next generation is to inherit a safe and stable environment, we need to take action on climate crisis now. Labour has worked hard to tackle climate change and provide New Zealanders with clean energy. We’ve passed the Zero Carbon Act with a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, overhauled the Emissions Trading Scheme to make it an effective carbon price tool, started planting one billion trees, stopped new offshore oil and gas exploration permits, started decarbonising transport and infrastructure, and invested in Ara Ake: Future Energy Development Centre, in Taranaki. We will continue working to transition NZ to a clean green carbon-neutral economy, with 100 percent renewable electricity generation and decarbonisation of transport and industrial heat.

Tania Tapsell: Yes.

Meredith Akuhata-Brown: Yes, the Green Party is committed and focused on climate change action.

Helena Nickerson: No, I do not believe in catastrophic climate change. However, we do have a serious problem with pollution and that needs to be addressed.

Meka Whaitiri: Yes. Climate polluting fuels have been used for too long to heat some of New Zealand’s most important public buildings. This government has taken steps towards changing this and ensuring climate friendly energy solutions are part of our everyday lives.

2. Would you rate it as the top priority in parliament?

KA: Parliament is made up of a number of different political parties, with different values and positions. The Labour Party believes that taking action on climate change is the nuclear-free issue of our time, it should be a priority of parliament, and people will have seen this reflected in our actions over the past few years

TT: No, ensuring that NZ recovers from the social and economic impacts of Covid-19 is the top priority as we have hundreds of thousands of Kiwis out of work.

MA-B: Yes, climate change should be at the top and all policies should flow from that.

HN: No, Parliament has much more serious problems to attend to.

MW: Yes. Our government’s programme to upgrade infrastructure and modernise the economy will help more communities to be part of the solution to climate change through clean powered public service.

3. Do you favour a bipartisan approach to meeting the challenge of climate change?

KA: Where possible. Labour will work to create a consensus across Parliament to produce stable long-lasting climate policy. For example, our Zero Carbon Act, which provides a long-term framework to support new Zealanders to prepare for, and adapt to, the effects of climate change, was passed with almost unanimous support in Parliament.

TT: Yes.

MA-B: Yes, the Green Party has worked tirelessly with the coalition government to ensure our climate actions are addressed. We have achieved more within the climate change space this three-year term than any other government has in 30 years.

HN: Depends, as long as rational and logical decisions are made and decisions are not just ideologically based.

MW: Yes.

4. Do you want to speed up the process of decarbonisation in NZ?

KA: Yes, Labour is determined to transform New Zealand’s energy sector to one based on clean energy. This will mean transitioning to a carbon-neutral economy, with 100 percent renewable electricity generation, and decarbonisation of transport and industrial heat. This will include reducing vehicle emissions, promoting electric vehicles and green hydrogen fuel, and supporting the conversion of coal boilers to electricity.

TT: Yes.

MA-B: Yes, the Green Party helped create a New Zealand Green Investment Fund to provide a sustainable investment tool to stimulate private sector action on decarbonisation.

HN: No, carbon is produced naturally by nature and we need carbon.

MW: No. I believe that there is a process for everything in order for things to be done properly. Decarbonisation specifically means changing the routine of the community’s everyday lives. This would have to be introduced and welcomed by New Zealanders first, before speeding up the process. It would be great but practically it would be impossible.

5. Would you commit to a 50 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2030 in NZ?

KA: Labour believes we need to be ambitious when it comes to tackling climate change and guided by the best science available. Through our Zero Carbon Act, we’ve already set a new domestic greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for NZ to reduce net emissions of all greenhouse gases, (except biogenic methane) to zero by 2050; and reduce biogenic methane to 24-47 percent below 2017 levels by 2050, including to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2030. Successive governments will continue to be advised by the independent Climate Change Commission, tasked with keeping NZ on track to meet long-term goals.

TT: No.

MA-B: Yes, the Green Party is absolutely committed to reduction of greenhouse gases and have sought to look at the best science to inform the government on best practice. Government policy needs to recognise the differences between greenhouse gases, but total emissions must rapidly be significantly reduced and eventually to net zero.

HN: No, not realistic.

MW: Yes. However, it would be dependent on whether governments between now and 2030 continue to work towards emission reductions.

6. Would you favour closing NZ coal mines and if so would you favour closing them by 2025?

KA: Labour believes New Zealand needs a just transition away from fossil fuel production and consumption, including coal. We’ve already stopped issuing new offshore oil and gas exploration permits, and we’re investing significantly in clean energy. Labour will continue to build on this progress.

TT: Coal mines will close but I don’t want to put a date on it.

MA-B: Yes, the Green Party want to see a focused attention on renewable energy so we are absolutely in favour of closing coal mines and investing in a greener economy.

HN: No, if we use it we should produce it. Coal is used as an additive for producing high grade steel (as I understand it).

MW: Yes and no. I am thinking about employment and how this might affect the economy. However if it means a better environment, and creating a platform for New Zealanders to look after our taiao, (planet), then most certainly would look to supporting the closure of coal mines.

7. Do you favour electrification of the main trunk railway line in order to reduce emissions?

KA: Labour supports electrification as an important way to reduce emissions. As part of the NZ Upgrade Programme, we are extending electrification in Auckland from Papakura to Pukekohe and we know we need to go further in the future. In 2018 we also announced that we would continue to run electric locomotives on the North Island Main Truck line, reversing earlier plans to move to diesel. We’re funding the refurbishment of 15 electric trains, which will continue to run between Hamilton and Palmerston North, with a $35 million investment over four years.

TT: Yes, where it is possible and pragmatic.

MA-B: Yes, as electrification is available and supports our climate action plan we absolutely endorse it.

HN: Yes, it was electric and then it was converted to diesel.

MW: No answer or comment given.

8. Would you support a ban on sales of new vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2025?

KA: Transitioning to low emissions and electric vehicles is a crucial part of working towards our zero carbon goal, and our action on tackling the long-term challenge of climate change. The Labour Party has backed the transition towards low emission vehicles in NZ with a number of initiatives over the past three years. We’ve invested through the Low Emissions Contestable Fund, which is delivering more infrastructure for low emissions transport. As of February 2020, the fund had contributed $23.8 million in government funding to 139 projects which will accelerate the uptake of electric and other low emissions vehicles. In total as of February 2020, the government had committed funding for over 1000 EV chargers nationwide. We’re also supporting government agencies to transition their light vehicle fleets to zero emission alternatives. We’re tracking the average emissions for each government agency’s fleet of light vehicles, and by 2025/26 virtually all new light vehicles entering the government’s fleet should be emissions-free, with the exception of specialised vehicles where there are limited emissions-free alternatives.

TT: No, this is not our current policy.

MA-B: Yes, the Green Party have been advocating for the increase of EVs with a number of solutions around how we can make them more affordable and ensuring that new government cars be electric within seven years.

HN: No, It’s not practical at the moment because the technology and the infrastructure is not there to support this move.

MW: Yes. To protect our whenua from being too far infected by gases then I would say by 2030 to allow systems to be put in place.

9. If not, when do you think a suitable date would be?

KA: NZ is one of only three developed countries that has no regulations to influence the fuel efficiency of light vehicles entering our country. As a result, the vehicles supplied into NZ are among the most fuel inefficient and polluting, of any OECD country. To save drivers money and to reduce emissions, it makes sense to improve the emission controls on vehicles added to the fleet. This is a policy our Government has been working on this term and it’s one we’d like to take forward.

TT: I believe fossil fuel car production will decrease over the next few years as the price of electric vehicles becomes more affordable.

MA-B: Yes, I believe working towards this date is a great start: the sooner the better.

HN: Unsure, when the above mentioned is in place.

MW: See previous answer.

10. Do you favour steadily increasing emission controls on petrol and diesel engines?

KA: See answer above.

TT: Yes.

MA-B: Yes, if we want to work harder and faster to mitigate climate change we need to start now, so increasing emission controls will help educate the importance of ending our reliance on petrol and diesel.

HN: Yes, if the quality of petrol and diesel are more refined it will obviously reduce emissions. From living in other countries the fuel is much, much cleaner. Higher octanes of fuel burn much cleaner.

MW: Yes. As mentioned above, if this means protecting our environment. And also as a platform to create new employment for our people then yes.

11. Would you support a ban on sales of vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2035? If not then, when?

KA: We’re providing support to get low emission trucks and heavy transport vehicles on the road. That starts with making sure the infrastructure is in place to make this possible. That’s why we are investing in infrastructure to support hydrogen vehicles. The Infrastructure Investment Group has recently provisionally approved $20 million for the establishment of a nationwide network of hydrogen fuelling stations.

These stations will begin to supply zero-emission fuel to trucks, buses and commercial fleets from 2021. This will also help stimulate significant private sector investment in zero emission heavy vehicles. We also supported NZ Bus with over $750,000 to instal charging infrastructure at two bus depots to support a significant fleet of electric buses in Wellington. Wellington’s Metlink has recently ordered 98 new e-buses which arrive in NZ between mid-2021 and early 2023. While in Government we’ve funded and co-funded innovative projects that expand the use of low emissions heavy vehicles. These include electric shuttle buses at Auckland and Christchurch airports, electric trucks on Foodstuffs delivery routes in the North and South islands, a hydrogen fuel cell bus at the ports of Auckland, and an electric rubbish truck to service Wellington City Council housing. Labour is committed to supporting the adoption of low emissions and electric buses. We’re making headway, and there’s still more work to do.

TT: At a time when it’s pragmatic to do so I would.

MA-B : Yes.

HN: No, not practical.

MW: Yes. If that means getting our processes right, and ensuring New Zealanders are fully aware and educated on the importance of removing internal combustion engines.

12. Do you support Government subsidies for electric buses?

KA: We support making public transport more accessible, including making it free for those who need it. For example, this term we supported kids in Auckland travelling free on weekends and public holidays. We’re making record investments in public transport through the National Land Transport programme, which is expected to have increased public transport patronage by 11 percent from 2018 to 2021.

TT: Yes, National’s policy is to support low emission vehicles of any type.

MA-B: Yes, The Greens new transport policy wants to see public transport encouraged to use low and zero emission buses and trains. Children, students, beneficiaries and superannuitants should travel free or at discounted prices on buses and trains.

HN: Depends if the buses are running at full capacity. If not then no.

MW: Yes. However, this needs to be supported by the full government. It would be awesome if it took pressure off the pollution going into our taiao.

13. Do you support increasing government subsidies for public transport so as to lower fares and increase patronage?

KA: Labour will continue to prioritise investment in public transport, ensure accessible, affordable and reliable services for Kiwis. Already we’re investing over $3.9 billion in public transport — a 105 percent increase compared to the previous government. On top of this, we’re funding all Covid-19-related costs for councils’ public transport services, including extra cleaning costs, PPE, signage and extra staff cover, and covering the revenue gap for councils from less people taking public transport. We’re investing around $210 million to make sure that buses and trains will keep running to reduce emissions and congestion in our cities, and we made public transport free during the first wave under Covid Alert Levels 3 and 4. We’re also planning to increase funding for public transport infrastructure and services by over $400m next term to help give people real transport choices.

TT: Yes, Government currently supports subsidies.

MA-B: Yes, see above.

HN: Depends on the usage. Over-utilised will not need the subsidy. Under-utilised may need the

subsidy.

MW: Yes. This would allow less use of individual vehicle use, and employment in public transport, which government can support through subsidies.

14. Would you support regulations to make all new buildings in NZ be energy self-sufficient?

KA: Labour’s vision is that by 2050, NZ’s buildings are using as little energy and water as practicable. We are working alongside the building and construction sector to determine how best that can be achieved. Already we’ve set up the Building for Climate Change programme to reduce emissions from constructing and operating buildings, and to make sure our buildings are prepared for the future effects of climate change.

TT: Yes, this is already being done.

MA-B: Yes, the Greens believe that energy should be affordable for households. Government-funded home insulation should be prioritised to reduce energy costs, progressive pricing should be investigated and we should encourage energy efficient buildings and homes.

HN: Yes, future-proofing buildings with better insulation.

MW: Yes. This should be implemented into all buildings. I have seen firsthand the impacts of self-sufficient use of energy in our more rural towns across my electorate.

15. Would you support a moratorium on herd/flock sizes until they can be carbon neutral?

KA: We would not support a moratorium on herd/flock, until they can be carbon neutral. Rather, it is a matter for the owner of the farmland to determine the appropriate level of stock for their property in alignment with their environmental obligations.

This government does not intend to supplant the ability of farmers to determine the composition of their herd. Farmers will, however, have to ensure that the effects of that herd size can be managed, to the extent required by regulation.

TT: We support initiatives to ensure low emission primary production while remaining competitive with international markets.

MA-B: Yes, it’s time to reduce the herd, diversify away from intensive dairying and switch to more regenerative ways of farming.

HN: No. How can we if this industry is the backbone of the NZ economy? We are producing food for NZ and the rest of the world.

MW: No. Until systems can be put into place to ensure our rural communities have the support they need, to go into a carbon neutral environment then I would have to say we need to keep our farmers working. Until they can be carbon neutral.

Kiri Allan.
Tania Tapsell.
Meredith Akuhata-Brown.
Helena Nickerson.
Labour MP for Ikaroa-Rawhiti Meka Whaitiri speaking to media on her way into the House, Parliament, Wellington. 25 June, 2019. New Zealand Herald photograph by Mark MitchellWGP 17Jul19 - From left, Meka Whaitiri, Jami-Lee Ross, Maggie Barry, and Trevor Mallard have faced claims of bullying. Photos / FileHBG 18Jul19 - From left, Meka Whaitiri, Jami-Lee Ross, Maggie Barry, and Trevor Mallard have faced claims of bullying. Photos / FileRGP 03Oct19 -WGP 03Oct19 -HBG 03Oct19 -BTG 03Oct19 -NAG 03Oct19 -