The government is committing to requiring the public sector to be carbon neutral by 2025.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the commitment as she declared a “climate emergency” in parliament on Wednesday.
All government departments and ministries will have to measure, verify and report emissions annually.
They will have to set gross emissions reduction targets and introduce a “work plan” for how they’ll reduce emissions. They’ll have to offset what they can’t reduce in order to achieve neutrality.
The programme is being backed by the $200 million State Sector Decarbonisation Fund that will finance the replacement of public sector coal boilers, with the largest and most active the immediate focus, and support the immediate purchase of electric or hybrid vehicles to start replacing the Government’s petrol car fleet.
Certain agencies will be required to purchase electric vehicles or hybrids unless they can’t for operational reasons.
Departments and ministries will also have to implement an energy efficiency building rating standard over five years from January 2021 for all mandated property over 2000 square metres.
There will be a requirement to achieve a minimum of 4 stars when establishing new leases and a minimum of 5 starts for new builds.
Ardern said: “This policy, alongside today’s declaration of a climate emergency, serves as a message to the public sector to get our own house in order.
“It’s also a call to action for the private sector and it’s great to see so many examples of businesses taking steps to reduce their emissions.”
Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash said government agencies could exert strong influence through their spending on vehicles, office space and other supply contracts such as heating and lighting.
“The procurement practices of public service agencies have the power to influence decisions by the private and community sectors when it comes to carbon-neutral and low-emission technologies," Nash said.
“There are nearly 16,000 vehicles in the government fleet and more than 200 coal-fired boilers currently heating water and buildings in the state sector. So there is room for improvement."
Climate Change Minister James Shaw said: “According to the world’s leading scientists we have just over nine years left to cut carbon emissions in half...
“In our first term, we put in place one of the world’s most ambitious frameworks for reducing emissions, including becoming one of the only countries in the world to put in place a legally binding requirement to stay within the threshold of 1.5 degrees of global warming above pre-industrial levels."
National dismissed the declaration of a "climate emergency" as "nothing but virtue signalling”.
Here's National's climate change spokesperson Stuart Smith: