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Just Transition needs a slice of Govt's $5.5 billion surplus

New Zealand's Just Transition needs a slice of Government's $5.5 billion surplus

With a $5.5 billion cash surplus washing around in the Government’s current account, it is time to make some serious investments in New Zealand’s energy infrastructure, says New Plymouth District Mayor Neil Holdom.

“If the Government is serious about its net carbon zero goal by 2050 and given the announcement this week from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calling for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5 degrees or face a ‘climate catastrophe’, it’s time to set some real money aside right now while the economy is buoyant. New Zealand is going to need multi-billion dollar investments if we are going to successfully take 60 million tonnes of carbon a year out of our economy by 2050 and still have a competitive economy left at the end of it,” says Mr Holdom.

“Energy drives our economy and a prudent Government would back its carbon policy with an infrastructure war chest, capable of funding the early investments needed to give the business community confidence the Government understands the challenge and has the dollars to back the rhetoric. What we are really interested to hear is how much is the Minister of Finance Grant Robertson prepared to invest in the Coalition’s marquee policy.”

Mr Holdom called on the Government to set aside 20% of cash surpluses over the next decade for investments in the Just Transition to create a nationwide programme to develop the educational, research and infrastructure projects required to efficiently and affordable decarbonise New Zealand’s economy over the next 30 years.

Mr Holdom said Taranaki was going to be Ground Zero for the Just Transition with businesses, local government, unions, iwi and a range of other stakeholders all committed to working with the Government to develop a plan for both the region and the future of New Zealand’s energy infrastructure.

“Our goal is to ensure that in 10 or 20 years’ time in the depths of a cold, dry (no hydro energy), still (no wind energy) winter’s night, all New Zealanders will still be able to flick a switch and rely on a stable and affordable supply of electricity to keep their lights on, heaters running and coffee cups full.

“We also believe that all future oil and gas royalties earned from Taranaki’s energy sector, about $160 million, should be set aside for investment in Taranaki’s Just Transition to New Zealand’s renewable energy centre. This would show the world Aotearoa can take a leadership position and invest to solve problems countries around the world are struggling with.”

Mr Holdom also called on other political parties to work on a shared plan for New Zealand’s 30-year transition to a low carbon economy and the required energy infrastructure to ensure international investors were not scared away from making investments in New Zealand’s energy future.

NPDC Councillor Stacey Hitchcock is this week in Aberdeen, Scotland, an energy centre of the northern hemisphere, on an industry research investigation into renewable hydrogen energy. She will also explore if New Plymouth can become a World Cities Energy Partner and the creation of a MOU with Aberdeen City Council.

“Taranaki has the energy infrastructure and engineering expertise to lead the world but we need the Government to turn up with the cash to back their policy, so that private investment can follow,” said Mr Holdom.

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