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Budget 2007: Investing in a sustainable future

Joint Statement
Environment, Climate Change Issues

Investing in a sustainable future

More than $800 million is being invested into making New Zealand more sustainable, Environment Minister David Benson-Pope and Climate Change Minister David Parker announced today.

The funding follows on from the Prime Minister's statement to Parliament when she placed sustainability at the heart of the Labour-led government's agenda.

"This is a bold and exciting programme. It is the biggest investment a government has ever made in putting our country on the path to greater sustainability," David Benson-Pope said.

"Sustainability improves our quality of life, economically, environmentally and socially. Better ways of living and working will help us to prosper while protecting the environments we cherish," he said.

The most significant initiatives in the package include:

Transport
$650 million on rail infrastructure improvements in Auckland and Wellington, as well as national rail improvements

Sustainability
$30.5 million operating and $1.6 million capital:
o $6 million for a household sustainability programme
o $4.6 million for a network of public recycling facilities
o $3 million for business partnerships for sustainability
o $7.4 million for sustainable government procurement and enhanced eco-verification
o $10.4 million to shift the public service towards carbon neutrality

Energy efficiency
$72.4 million operating, of which $15 million is levy funded and $5.4 million comes from Vote Health:
o $23 million in contingency for an interest-free loans scheme to help homeowners pay for energy efficiency and clean heating upgrades
o $15 million in contingency for a Home Energy Rating Scheme
o $14.2 million for the Energy Wise Home Grants scheme
o $6.8 million for more research on energy efficient technologies
o $3.1 million for an information campaign to provide consumers with clear, practical advice on actions they can take to improve their homes.

"The Labour-led government is taking a comprehensive approach with this package, providing solutions across the economy from transport initiatives to help in the family home.

"We are helping businesses and households to reap the benefits of making more sustainable choices. These moves complement changes to the building code for new houses and proposed new standards for vehicle efficiency. We’re also leading by example in the way the government conducts its own business," Mr Parker said.

Government leadership is a cornerstone of the package. Six government departments are committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2012, and by then all core government departments will be on the path to carbon neutrality. The funding will help departments with technical advice on reducing their carbon footprint, and invest in some New Zealand-based projects to offset the carbon emissions from the activities of government departments.

At the same time, the sustainable government procurement and enhanced eco-verification initiatives will introduce a single government procurement policy that requires sustainably produced goods and services to be used where possible. One flow on effect of these initiatives is to give businesses and individuals increased confidence in the environmental and ethical claims of suppliers.

The energy efficient homes initiatives will see New Zealanders enjoy more comfort and better health in their homes, as well as lowering the nation's carbon emissions and cutting back on the amount of electricity and fuel people use.

"Investing in such initiatives shows the Labour-led government's commitment to a sustainable New Zealand," Mr Parker said.

"This is a significant step towards New Zealand becoming the world's first truly sustainable nation," said Mr Benson-Pope.

ENDS

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