Environment Hubs Aotearoa sent out a questionnaire to the major political parties, Greens, Labour, National, ACT, The Māori Party and NZ First, to answer 11 environmental questions.

We have received responses from 3 parties so far, Greens, National and Labour, and we will update these if we gain new responses.

 

 

Political Parties Answers to Eleven Environmental Questions – Crowd Sourced from EHA supporters

 

Q1. What policies will your party implement to increase public and active transport and reduce carbon-emitting transport?

National

Transport is a key area for emissions reductions focus. National will invest significantly in public transport. This includes:

●       expanding the Auckland rapid transit network

●       expanding the Auckland rail network

●       upgrading the East-west ferry link

●       introducing new trains between Wellington, Masterton and Palmerston North

●       introducing rapid transit between Wellington’s CBD and airport in the form of rapid buses or trackless trams

Public transport policies for other parts of the country will be released in due course.

Labour

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. Labour has backed the transition towards low emission vehicles in New Zealand with a number of initiatives over the past three years.

We’ve made an unprecedented investment in public transport and walking and cycling improvements. Compared to the previous government, public transport investment is up 163 percent and investment in walking and cycling is up 227 percent.

We’ve invested through the Low Emissions Vehicle 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, we had committed co-funding for over 1,000 EV chargers nationwide.

 

We’re also supporting government agencies to transition their light vehicle fleets to zero-emission alternatives. We’re tracking the average carbon 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.

Greens

The Green Party is the only political party that will stop building unnecessary motorways which

create urban sprawl and confine people to polluting cars. In Government, we’ve reprioritised low

carbon options in transport planning. In the recent New Zealand Upgrade Programme, we

negotiated $1.6 billion for sustainable transport, cycling, and walking infrastructure. We’ve secured

funding for iconic projects like the SkyPath over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, discounted e-bikes for

those working in the public service, and $220 million for “shovel-ready” cycleways nationwide. Next,

the Green Party will:

 

●       Connect our cities and provincial towns with fast, modern passenger rail.

●       Make buses, ferries, and trains frequent and affordable, and build new, rapid bus and train services in our major cities to avoid traffic and make it faster to get around.

●       Design people-friendly streets that are safer for walking and cycling, particularly around schools.

●       Expand electric vehicle charging stations across Aotearoa.

●       Introduce fuel efficiency standards for cars and a clean car discount to make electric cars cheaper and reduce pollution.

●       Make our supply chains carbon neutral by moving more freight on rail and incentivising zero emission fuels for heavy vehicles, including hydrogen and biofuels.

●       We plan to announce more detailed transport policy in the coming weeks.

 

Q2. How will your policies see urgent action around reducing emissions from agriculture, and how will you support farmers to move towards regenerative agricultural practices?

 

National

We see success in the agricultural sector as being crucial to post COVID-19 recovery both in economic and environmental terms. Half of our emissions are from agriculture. Here, we really need scientific solutions. New Zealand produces milk, beef and lamb with a lower carbon footprint than anywhere else in the world. We don’t see any merit in reducing food production in New Zealand as this will simply result in other, less efficient food producers picking up our production, global emissions would increase.

 

We need to develop new novel solutions to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. Things under development include low emissions feeds and low emissions breeding.

 

The previous National Government recognised this challenge and worked with over 50 other countries to establish the global research alliance on greenhouse gas emissions. We also supported this with a dedicated New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre in Palmerston North.

 

Its important to recognise that while New Zealand emissions are a tiny portion of global emissions (around 0.16%); livestock emissions are around 4% of global emissions. So we can in many ways have the biggest impact on global emissions by leading this technology development and delivering it to the rest of the world.

Labour

Earlier this year, we launched Fit for a Better World: Accelerating our economic potential. Its vision includes moving rapidly to a low carbon emissions society, restoring the health of our water, reversing the decline in biodiversity, and at the same time feeding our people.

Fit for a Better World recognises that within a generation modern regenerative production systems will be the foundation of our prosperity and primary production. There is an expectation that regenerative farming systems will improve the profitability of farming while leaving behind a smaller environmental footprint.

We passed the landmark Zero Carbon Act, which set out a set a new domestic greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for New Zealand to reduce emissions of biogenic methane to 24–47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050, including to 10 per cent below 2017 levels by 2030.

We’ve also reached a world-first plan, alongside farming leaders, to develop practical and cost-effective ways to measure and price emissions at the farm level by 2025. Including improving tools for estimating and benchmarking emissions on farms, increasing farm advisory capacity and capability, and providing recognition for on-farm mitigation.

And, we’re supporting farmer-led solutions through our Productive and Sustainable Land Use package, with a focus on promoting farm land-use practices that deliver more value and improve environmental outcomes.

Labour will continue to back our farmers, and support the transition to a more sustainable economy.

Greens

Aotearoa can have a thriving and sustainable agricultural sector that responds to the challenge of climate change while protecting food security, producing high value exports, preserving and enhancing the natural environment, and contributing to flourishing rural communities. The Green Party will:

●       Work with farmers to urgently develop and implement a fair and science-based way to measure and price agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

●       Support regenerative agriculture in New Zealand, so farming practices improve the ecosystems they rely on.

●       Phase-out the most environmentally degrading agricultural inputs, such as synthetic fertilisers and harmful pesticides, and ban Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) imports.

●       Support farmers to transition to organic agriculture, provide support for up-scaled farm advisory services, and fix the Organic Products Bill to give the organics sector a fair go.

●       Promote urban agriculture, food forests, and food growing in towns and cities.

●       Model environmentally sustainable farming with Pāmu-Landcorp.

●       Protect productive food-growing land from urban sprawl.

●       Encourage government agencies to buy locally grown food and timber products.

●       Continue to work with farmers to better protect and enhance areas of indigenous vegetation and habitat to ensure sustainable farming

We plan to announce more detailed policy to support the shift to sustainable agriculture in coming weeks.

Q3. What are the next steps to reduce waste and support product stewardship, especially re food, plastic waste, batteries, textiles and packaging?

 

National

Our policy on waste minimisation has yet to be released and will be closer to the election.

Labour

Labour is committed to transitioning to a zero waste circular economy, focused on the waste hierarchy priorities of preventing and reducing waste and reusing resources, followed by recycling and safe disposal.

As part of part of our plan to reduce the amount of rubbish ending up in New Zealand’s landfills, we’re funding new recycling infrastructure and expanding the national waste levy scheme. We’re accelerating work to achieve better and more consistent kerbside collection of recyclables. And we’re progressing work on regulated product stewardship schemes for tough waste issues, such as e-waste. We’ve also banned single-use plastic bags and are looking at phasing out more single use plastics.

Through the Waste Minimisation Fund, we’re creating jobs by investing in projects to help New Zealand reduce, reuse, and recycle. And, we’re addressing food waste with $14.9 million investment to reduce waste by redirecting food to people in need.

Labour will continue to build on this progress.

Greens

There is no waste in nature; only cycles of resource use. The Green Party wants our communities and economy to run on the same no-waste principle. The Green Party has done more to address waste than any other previous government. We have banned single use plastic shopping bags, phased out micro-beads in cosmetics, and expanded the waste levy on landfills. We’re designing a container return scheme for beverage containers and have implemented mandatory product stewardship schemes, as well as improving Aotearoa’s kerbside recycling system. And we have secured $124m for new facilities and infrastructure to improve recycling and materials recovery and reprocessing. Next, we need to:

●       Phase out low-grade plastic products that can be easily replaced with reusable alternatives, especially plastic water bottles, cotton buds, and fruit stickers.

●       Commit to zero food waste and zero e-waste in our landfills, and pass legislation creating clear waste management obligations for businesses and local authorities.

●       Improve clear labelling with common standards to ensure people can have confidence in products marked “compostable” and “recyclable”.

●       Continue to create more sector-wide product stewardship schemes for problem products like electronics and tyres, and implement a container return scheme for beverage containers.

Develop a new Waste Strategy and review the Waste Minimisation Act and Litter Act to ensure we have the tools needed to put Aotearoa on a zero waste pathway.

Q4. Will your party support measures to monitor water health, including, oceans, rivers, streams and underground tributaries, and will this data be publically available?

 

National

Yes

Labour

Labour believes that high quality data is essential for effective environmental management, including of freshwater. Decision-makers need robust and consistent data sets to make informed decisions about managing and allocating water, and that data should be available to the public.

Greater monitoring of freshwater quality is required by our new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020. Greater real-time reporting of water use by water permit holders is also required.

 

Labour intends to improve New Zealand’s environmental reporting system, informed by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s 2019 report, Focusing Aoteoroa New Zealand’s environmental reporting system.

Greens

Yes. From the maunga to moana, water is a taonga which must be protected, but too many rivers, lakes, and wetlands have been polluted over the years, and river flows have fallen below healthy levels. At the same time, climate change disrupts rainfall patterns, putting rivers at risk from both drought and flooding. Accurate, publicly available data about water quality is an essential part of the solution to cleaning up our waterways.

Work has already begun to more accurately and frequently monitor the health of our waterways. Stats NZ’s new Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand programme, initiated by the Green Party in government, includes water as a key element of environmental reporting, with work underway to ensure the collection of this information is useful and widespread and results are publicly available.

Q5. What are the 3 key actions your party would support to move toward Zero Carbon?

 

National

The Zero Carbon Act, which National supported, directs the Climate Commission to recommend a ‘carbon budget’ to work out how much we reduce emissions each year. The first set of budgets go out to 2035. The Act also directs the Climate Commission to develop an ‘Emissions Reduction Plan’ setting out potential policies and measures to achieve this budget.  It is then up to the Parliament to consider these and confirm a budget and set of policies and measures.

 

We will be looking closely at what the Commission comes up with.

 

The previous National Government implemented the emissions trading scheme. This saw New Zealand’s share of renewable electricity increase from 65% to 85% over the nine year period we were in office.

Labour

Labour has worked hard to tackle the climate crisis and provide New Zealanders with clean energy. Labour will continue to:

–        Work with farmers on our world-first partnership to reduce primary sector climate emissions at the farm level

–        prepare New Zealand for the future by driving the electrification of the New Zealand economy and replacing the use of fossil fuel for transport and industrial heat

Move towards 100% renewable electricity.

Greens

The Green Party wants future generations to know we did everything we could to prevent the climate crisis. Unfortunately, previous governments left polluters free to profit at the cost of our kids’ and grandkids’ futures. We need to do more. To reach our Paris Agreement commitment to stay within 1.5˚C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, we must halve our carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. This means Aotearoa must stop burning fossil fuels urgently. A stable climate for future generations means homes heated by clean energy, real transport choices to cut the need to drive, and producing food that nourishes the environment, and people. Our three priority actions would be:

●       Implement comprehensive plans for every sector of the economy to meet the emissions budgets the Climate Change Commission sets down, including using price signals on emissions through the Emissions Trading Scheme.

●       Reduce transport emissions by making electric cars more affordable and investing in better cycle lanes, buses, and trains.

Reduce energy emissions by ending coal use by 2030 and industrial gas use by 2035. Bring forward the Government’s 100% renewable electricity target to 2030, and reduce the cost of solar panels and batteries for all New Zealanders including equipping all suitable state homes with solar panels and batteries.

Q.6 Do you have plans to increase the range of items that can be recycled and upcycled domestically?

 

National

Yes

Labour

Please refer to Answer to question 3.

Greens

The Green Party supports reducing waste at every step of the production chain. Protecting Papatūānuku, and creating jobs in the process, requires effective regulation, incentives, and innovation. We will continue to invest in waste reduction and community initiatives, encouraging the recovery, reuse, redistribution, recycling, and reallocation of materials. Through careful planning and a clear vision, we will create a sustainable and circular economy. For example, the Green Party will:

●       Fix kerbside plastic recycling to be more consistent throughout Aotearoa, and develop local recycling capability to process more recyclable materials onshore.

●       Amend the Consumer Guarantees Act to introduce a Right to Repair, requiring manufacturers to design products that can be fixed, not thrown away.

Reward innovation by increasing funding available through the Waste Minimisation Fund, creating a materials recovery, re-use, and repurposing sector that supports good jobs in Aotearoa.

Q7. What policies do you have to support individuals and businesses to move towards clean-energy options, i.e. solar, wind, hydrogen, EV vehicles.

 

National

Our policy has yet to be released but will be closer to the election.

Labour

Labour is committed to transforming Zealand’s energy sector to one based on clean energy. This will mean transitioning to a carbon-neutral economy, with 100% renewable electricity generation, and decarbonisation of transport and industrial heat.

For example, we’ve established the $100 million Green Investment Fund to help shift private investment towards the zero carbon economy. We’re investing in green hydrogen refuelling stations across the country. We’re trialling innovative renewable energy technology, such as solar panels and batteries, across public and Māori housing – testing new ways of generating power at a local level, and integrating into local electricity networks. And, we’ve also invested through the Low Emissions Vehicle Contestable Fund, which is delivering more infrastructure for low emissions transport. Labour will continue to build on our progress in this area.

Greens

When all our energy comes from the sun, the wind, and the flow of rivers, there will be no need to burn coal or import oil. In Government, the Green Party achieved a historic ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration. We’ve put solar panels on school roofs, and started swapping old coal boilers in schools and hospitals for clean alternatives. Our Government has funded the development of a nationwide hydrogen fuelling network for heavy vehicles and started to swap the government’s car fleet to EVs.  But there is more to be done. The Green Party will:

●       Bring forward the Government’s target for 100% renewable electricity from 2035 to 2030, and re-instate the ban on building new fossil-fuel electricity generation.

●       Equip all suitable public housing with solar panels and batteries, saving people on their power bills and enabling them to share clean energy with their neighbours.

●       Make it 50% cheaper for everyone to upgrade to solar and batteries for their own homes, with government finance.

●       Create a community Clean Energy Fund to support communities, iwi, and hapū to build and share low-cost, clean energy.

●       Train thousands of people for clean energy careers with a Clean Energy Industry Training Plan, developed with the energy industry, training providers, and unions.

●       Ban new fossil-fuelled industrial heating systems and boilers in our first 100 days in Government, end coal use in Aotearoa by 2030, and end industrial gas use by 2035.

●       Increase financial and advisory support for businesses to replace fossil fuels with clean energy alternatives.

●       Update planning rules to make it easier to build new wind farms.

●       Encourage time of use pricing options for major electricity retailers, and encourage local generation and energy storage instead of building more poles and wires.

Q8. How will your party mitigate the effects of rising sea levels and changing weather patterns in the New Zealand context?

 

National

Our policy has yet to be released but will be closer to the election.

Labour

Even with meaningful climate mitigation action, there are still unavoidable consequences of climate change that New Zealand needs to adapt to, such as flooding and impacts on agriculture. Labour believes that good information and careful planning can lessen these impacts.

That’s why we passed the Zero Carbon Act, to provide a framework by which New Zealand can develop and implement clear and stable climate policies that allow New Zealand to prepare for, and adapt to, the effects of a changing climate. And, using information from the recently released National Climate Change Risk Assessment, we’re developing a national adaptation plan.

We’ll also continue to take a green approach to planning our future by strengthening the resource management system to deliver better outcomes for natural and urban environments.

Greens

With the Green Party in Government, Aotearoa now has its first ever National Climate Change Risk Assessment, Heat Health Plan, and official government report into Climate Change and Environmental Health. We have begun work on regulatory and funding settings to support adaptation.

With the National Climate Change Risk Assessment now delivered, Government will respond with a National Adaptation Plan. This will set out what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and how it will be financed. The Plan will be a first for New Zealand and will give Government, households, councils, business and iwi the knowledge and tools they need to protect communities for the effects of a warming world.

Q9. How will your party go about ensuring the ongoing protection of the natural flora and fauna of Aotearoa given the effects of climate change?

 

National

We introduced Predator Free 2050, a long term vision for the continuing protection of New Zealand’s biodiversity, and survival of our native species, well into the future.

National will take a balanced, long term and pragmatic approach to conservation TO ENSURE THAT ALL New Zealanders – both here today and future generations – will have the opportunity to experience and enjoy our incredible natural environment

Labour

Labour will support initiatives to protect, preserve, and restore our natural heritage and biodiversity, and to reverse years of decline. This will provide a range of benefits to not only essential and valuable ecosystems, but for all New Zealanders. Our work will include implementing the Predator Free 2050 Strategy and promoting mainland islands.

We’ve launched Te Mana o te Taiao – Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, providing a framework for the protection, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity in New Zealand, and setting specific goals for 2025, 2030, and 2050. We’ve also substantially boosted DOC funding.

We’re also supporting councils to restore biodiversity, including through a National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity, which we expect to gazette in 2021.

Labour will commit to sustained funding for a kauri dieback National Pest Management Plan, to protect this taonga from extinction. This funding will provide a co-ordinated, long-term approach to the management of kauri dieback disease.

Greens

Everyone should be able to enjoy the dawn chorus in Aotearoa’s forests and have rivers safe for fishing, swimming, and gathering kai. In Government, the Green Party has secured the largest investment in conservation ever. This funding will better protect kiwi, kākāpō, takahē, and other wildlife from the predator crisis. We’ve added 64,000 hectares to Kahurangi National Park – the largest ever addition to a national park in Aotearoa. We are responding to the job losses COVID-19 has created by investing $1.3 billion to create thousands of jobs for nature over the next four years, including 6,000 jobs in conservation. But there is still much to do to protect and enhance nature, especially as the climate changes. The Green Party will:

●       Create sustainable employment through the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme, and support conservation volunteer groups nationwide which focus on improving efforts to address the effects of climate change such as riparian planting and wetland restoration.

●       Enhance Predator Free 2050 by increasing funding for research, innovation, and landscape predator control; and by establishing more protected and pest-free islands and sanctuaries, including in our towns and cities.

●       Invest in restoring wetlands, riverbanks, and estuaries to protect communities against rising seas and floods.

●       Increase funding support for iwi and hapū, landholders, and community organisations to restore the health of forests and waterways, through programmes including the Community Conservation and Partnership Fund, Mātauranga Kura Taio, Ngā Whenua Rahui, Nature Heritage and QEII Trust Funds.

We will announce further policies to protect nature in the coming weeks.

Q.10 Do you have policies that support a more resilient food system, that includes local food supply rather than export-orientated or import-heavy?

 

National

Yes and as already indicated during debate on the Zero Carbon Act we will amend that legislation accordingly.

Labour

One of the greatest challenges facing the world right now is the need to feed a growing population. New Zealand has a well-earned reputation for producing some of the best food in the world, and Labour is committed to safeguarding this. We’re protecting New Zealand’s most fertile and versatile land, through a proposed new National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land, to improve the way highly productive land is managed under the RMA. This will ensure it maintain its availability for primary production for future generations and is protected from inappropriate subdivision, use and development.

And, we’re maintaining the viability of fresh vegetable production within specific areas of the Pukekohe and Lake Horowhenua catchments, through transitional provisions under our new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

Greens

The Green Party’s vision is for an agricultural sector that sustainably feeds Aotearoa and the world; protects and enhances the environment; and contributes to the continued success and vibrancy of Aotearoa’s rural communities. The Green Party will:

●       Extend country-of-origin labelling to all food products, so people can choose to buy local.

●       Promote urban agriculture, food forests, and food growing in towns and cities.

●       Model environmentally sustainable farming with government-owned Pāmu-Landcorp farms.

●       Protect productive food-growing land from urban sprawl.

●       Encourage government agencies to buy locally grown food and timber products.

Q.11 What commitments does your party have to only build efficient, sustainable new houses, to raise the standards for retrofitting houses to ensure the wellbeing of those living in them, and to bring current housing up to this level?

 

National

Our policy has yet to be released but will be closer to the election.

Labour

Labour is making sure every New Zealander has a warm, dry, safe place to call home – whether they rent or own. While there’s no silver bullet to solve the long-term challenge that is the housing crisis, we’re making good progress and will continue roll out our plan.

We’ve delivered the biggest increase to public housing in nearly 20 years, and more and more homes are being designed and built to modern standards including double glazing, insulation, and affordable heating such as heat pumps. Under our Government, Kāinga Ora has committed that all of its new homes will be built to a 6 Homestar standard. And, through our Retrofit programme, we’re investing significantly to upgrade and renew older state homes; making them warmer, drier and healthier for tenants.

Greens

Everyone has the right to a warm, dry home. Instead, housing in Aotearoa often makes us sick from damp and cold. Cold, draughty houses with high heating costs can and should be a thing of the past. The Green Party has been committed to warming up our homes for decades, working with both Labour and National governments to deliver subsidies for home insulation. This term, with the Green Party in Government, we’ve introduced Healthy Home Standards for rental properties, requiring insulation and reliable heating. We’ve made sure all new Kāinga Ora public homes are energy efficient and we’ve launched the Building for Climate Change programme to improve how we build while reducing carbon emissions. It’s now time to go further and create a green building revolution, for the health of people and planet. The Green Party will:

●       Overhaul the Building Code so all new homes are built to high standards of warmth, dryness, and energy and water efficiency, working towards net zero energy new builds by 2030. The new Code will require new builds to use greywater recycling and be accessible to people with disabilities.

●       Provide grants to insulate, heat, and ventilate older homes, targeted at those most in need.

●       Introduce mandatory energy efficiency ratings for all commercial and residential buildings, both new and existing.

●       Create a Rental Warrant of Fitness to complement the existing Healthy Home Standards, including extending the requirement to be able to heat living rooms to 18C to also apply to bedrooms, so all tenants can have confidence in the warmth of rental properties.

●       Kick-start Aotearoa’s sustainable building materials industry, with a particular focus on scaling up sustainable timber processing and prefabricated buildings.

●       Finance clean energy replacements of fossil fuel heating systems in commercial and industrial buildings.

●       Support green roofs and other “soft” infrastructure.

●       Ensure new government buildings are built to high environmental standards.