Jeanette's Energy Efficiency Bill to Proceed
Thames-based MP Jeanette Fitzsimons has had a major success in gaining cross-party support for her Energy Efficiency Bill, New Zealand's first Green Party legislation to do so well in Parliament.
The draft laws also achieve another "first". They amount to the only attempt by the New Zealand Parliament to address climate change problems in legislation.
"The bill provides the legislative and government framework that will help local initiatives such as the Thames Energy Futures Trust to improve energy use within communities," Ms Fitzsimons said. "Also it is one way for New Zealand to signal to those Pacific Islands and coastal communities around the world threatened with sea level rise that we are serious about the issue."
Government support has been agreed after a long process of negotiation. It is an indication of how well the Green Party can work across party lines, Ms Fitzsimons said.
The legislation was originally introduced to Parliament last September, and has spent most of the time since with the transport and environment select committee. A unanimous decision by the committee, including by National MPs, has allowed the bill to take its next steps in Parliament.
"The bill has been substantially amended in the committee but its purpose is unchanged," Ms Fitzsimons said. "It aims at bringing about much greater efficiency in the use of energy, and to speed up the introduction of renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind power, and to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
"Groups like the Thames Energy Futures Trust will be able to bring their local knowledge to bear on a national energy strategy, rather than having it developed from the top down. They will help identify where energy waste is due to lack of information, where it is due to poor technology, and where there are other barriers."
It could result in government support for energy work in schools, such as is happening now in Thames High School.
"I hope it will lead to more government support for improving energy use in low income households through insulation, damp-proofing and water-heating wraps. This has been shown to be a major factor in reducing asthma and other health costs from cold and damp houses. This is turn will reduce health costs and the load on our hospitals," Ms Fitzsimons said.