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Covid-19 Sparks Systemic Change Beyond ‘shovel-read’ Projects

Today, Climate Justice Taranaki sent an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and fellow ministers:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Environment Minister David Parker

Climate Change Minister James Shaw

Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones

Re. Covid-19 sparks systemic change beyond ‘shovel-ready’ projects

Dear Prime Minister Ardern and Ministers,

As a community group focussed on climate justice, we advocate for policies and decisions that alleviate the impacts and empower communities through the climate crisis.

We are incredibly thankful of Prime Minister Ardern’s leadership and the government’s staunch efforts in fighting Covid-19 and keeping New Zealand communities safe.

We welcome the government’s desire and intention to help boost the economy following the Covid-19 lockdown, especially in funding public sector projects with clear social and environmental benefits. The public health sector, affordable healthy homes, community-run distributed renewable energy generation, decentralised water supply and waste management, public transport, local regenerative food production and environmental restoration, all deserve government support now.

However, we are extremely concerned about fast-tracking so-called “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects, especially for the private sector, without adhering to standard consenting processes under the Resource Management Act. Such a government drive mirrors the disastrous Think Big era of the 1980s, the harm of which still lingers today.

We are fearful that the fast-tracking and government funding for infrastructure projects could lock us into decades of environmental and social harm, with little if any benefit for those who are the most in need. To truly support them and their most immediate needs, bring on a Universal Basic Income. Introduce Capital Gains and Wealth Taxes to help pay for essential public services and reduce inequality. Allow the Reserve Bank to directly finance government spending associated with Covid-19. Furthermore, requiring the Reserve Bank to create all new money would fundamentally reform our economic system, reduce our debt burden, enable funding for public good and better control inflation.

Covid-19 is a wake-up call that nations are able to take unprecedented actions as urgent response to a global threat. The result has been substantial reduction in climate damaging emissions and harmful pollution. We have witnessed an outpouring of love, solidarity and community spirit. This government under Jacinda’s leadership is taking extraordinary measures to protect the vulnerable in our society.

The lock-down has given us time to reflect and see the possibilities for radical change for the better. Not only change in the way we work and connect, but systemic changes that catalyse and enable truly sustainable and caring societies to thrive.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Cheung on behalf of Climate Justice Taranaki

New Plymouth, Taranaki


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