Climate Change Commissioner Rod Carr wants climate change investment added as a chapter heading, alongside education, health and housing, in the Budget from next year.
Carr details this in a letter to Climate Change Minister James Shaw, with copies provided to other ministers including Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
"We acknowledge this is a time of huge uncertainty, but it is also one of opportunity. The economic stimulus the government has underway is the biggest in our lifetimes – if we can make smart investment decisions in low-emissions practices, technologies, and infrastructure, we can rebuild the economy, create jobs, and ensure people are better off both now and in the future," Carr says.
"Mitigating and adapting to climate change needs to be considered in every investment decision this country makes. From next budget we would like to see climate change investment added as a chapter heading - alongside education, health and housing. This is the issue and the challenge of our time - the wellbeing of New Zealanders now and for generations to come depend on the actions we take today to address it."
Carr also highlights the $20 billion of unallocated funds set aside in the Budget to aid in the recovery from COVID-19.
"There is an opportunity to invest in large transformative projects that address emissions reduction and adaptation. We encourage the use of our six principles to guide decision making here. These funds can only be spent once. We need to make decisions that our children and grandchildren will thank us for."
Carr welcomes support in the Budget for people seeking to retrain or upskill.
"Given the changing nature of work, particularly in light of COVID-19, we would expect that this package includes training people for the future opportunities that will emerge from the transition to a low-emissions and climate-resilient economy and society."
"Accelerating electrification using renewable generation is a key strategy for moving to a low emissions economy and will provide jobs and opportunities to upskill. We also know that growing our digital economy is likely to form more of New Zealand’s future – smart technology and the ‘internet of things’ can increase efficiency and reduce emissions. Alongside equipping people with the skills needed to support building more houses and infrastructure, we should provide access to training and skills for the 21st Century," says Carr.
"We also have an opportunity to take a closer look at some sectors that have underpinned our economy in recent years and think hard about whether they can be reshaped to succeed in a low-emissions world. The digital economy presents opportunities for building on our strengths in agriculture, tourism, and technology and has a reputation for adapting quickly."
"We are a country of innovators. Looking back to the 19th and 20th Century, many New Zealanders were employed in industries that played an important role in our economy but that we no longer see today. Whaling, gold mining, and vehicle assembly all have a significant place in our history. The climate change consequences that we face give us an opportunity to transform how we do things and build new businesses that can reshape the low emissions world while creating more jobs," Carr says.
The Climate Change Commission is a Crown entity established under the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act to provide independent, evidence-based advice to government to help NZ "transition to a low-emissions and climate-resilient economy." It's also tasked with monitoring and reviewing the Government’s progress towards emissions reduction and adaptation goals. Carr recently featured in this interest.co.nz Zoom interview.