Wednesday, January 29: The Government’s plan to spend $5.3 billion on building new roads will slow down the development of clean transport in New Zealand, according to Greenpeace.
The environmental organisation’s climate and energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson, is disappointed by this morning’s announcement, which she says misses an opportunity to clean up New Zealand’s transport system.
"People’s transport choices are framed by the options that are available to them. If you’ve ever visited somewhere like London or New York, the vast majority of commuters get around on public transport because it’s well-connected and convenient," she says.
"If you build more roads, people will drive more. In New Zealand, we have particularly inefficient cars, and increasing their use will only contribute to more of the dirty emissions that are driving the climate emergency."
The transport sector is New Zealand’s fastest growing source of carbon emissions. It’s responsible for around 20 percent of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions each year. Of the $12 billion announced today for infrastructure, 44 percent - almost half - will be spent on expanding this sector.
Larsson says although New Zealand is starting to be seen as a world leader on climate policy, the country is a laggard when it comes to providing infrastructure that allows people to get around using clean transport, or power their homes with clean energy.
"There really couldn’t be a worse time to build expensive and polluting roading than now. From an economic point of view, it’s a bad investment because we already have cleaner and more efficient ways of getting people where they want to go.
"From a moral perspective, our neighbours in Australia are losing their homes, lives, and livelihoods, and billions of animals are dying in devastating bushfires that have been fueled by climate change.
"The climate crisis is fundamentally an infrastructure challenge. We can move away from our dependence on dirty fuels by building lots of solar, wind, batteries, electric trains, busways, and cycleways. All of this creates thousands of jobs, and gives people options that they currently don’t have.
"The $12 billion boost to infrastructure spending could have been a huge opportunity to address the climate emergency. But it needed to be spent on infrastructure that fixes the problem, or at the very least doesn't make things worse."