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Government doesn't know what the upfront cost of having a 'carbon neutral' public sector in four years' time will be

Government doesn't know what the upfront cost of having a 'carbon neutral' public sector in four years' time will be
Image sourced from pxhere.

The Government can’t put a price on the headline policy underpinning its climate emergency declaration.

When a climate emergency motion was passed in Parliament a fortnight ago, the Government announced all departments and ministries would need to become “carbon neutral” by 2025.

Asked by National Climate Change spokesperson Stuart Smith for estimates around the financial costs and environmental benefits of the commitment, Climate Change Minister James Shaw effectively said he didn’t know.

“It is difficult to estimate the cost and emissions reduction impact,” Shaw said in response to a written question from Smith.

“Because it depends on what actions are taken and when, and there are gaps in public sector emissions data.

“That is why the new Carbon Neutral Government Programme requirement to measure, verify, and report emissions is a critical first step, and why it is a phased and long-term programme.”

A spokesperson for Shaw’s office told a ministerial group had until March to provide Cabinet with recommendations around how this reporting would be done.

Then by June, the group would need to report back on exactly how carbon neutrality could be achieved. It would look at how offsets could work, including the buying of carbon credits domestically versus from offshore.

Otago University Centre for Sustainability director, Janet Stephenson, suspected massive carbon offsetting would be required, saying carbon neutrality by 2025 was “clearly” unachievable.

Stephenson was worried buying offshore credits would simply send money out of the country, while offsetting emissions by planting trees in New Zealand wouldn’t really fix problem.

She suggested any money spent on offsets was invested locally on long-term solutions aimed at reducing emissions, not short-term fixes like planting pine forests.

The Government has set aside $200 million via its State Sector Decarbonisation Fund to help finance the replacement of coal boilers and convert government petrol vehicle fleets to hybrids or electric vehicles.

Outside of this, departments will have to find money from within their existing budgets to meet the carbon neutrality target.

Smith, whose party opposed the climate emergency declaration, said: “Is a carbon neutral public service an effective policy? We don’t know and neither does the Government because it didn’t do any work on it. It was a last gasp attempt to get a speaking slot in the recent climate summit.

“We can’t afford to have knee-jerk policy initiatives. We must have well thought out effective policies that are tested before they are introduced.

"We already have the most effective policy to reduce emissions in place. It is the Emissions Trading Scheme."

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It's a smoke screen being used to conceal the housing crisis.

The emissions trading scheme used to be (paying who?) for the non-operation of Eastern European thermal plants that were going to close anyway. These scams were widespread and did nothing to change anything. Not sure if any improvements have been made.

A two tier system is well bedded in.
I'm supportive of kickstarting moves to electric.
But yet again this clueless government tosses money at the civil service wasteful processes. And the rest of us have to make do with what we have got. Make do and patch together.


Buying overseas carbon credits does not reduce carbon emissions in NZ and is only going to enrich a foreign entity. It is an idiotic suggestion, but unfortunately that is what I have become to expect from our politicians.

Actually the brilliance of this is that most objectives can be achieved by outsourcing polluting activities into the private sector. That's why only goals set on a national level with a wholistic view of per capita consumption should really be viewed as progress. After all it would be very easy for wealthy countries to offshore our pollution to the developing world.

Isn't there something in the Public Finance Act that requires policy decisions to be costed? Did the government run this 'policy' past Treasury or did they just ask for $200m and hope it was enough?
And what about 'carbon neutral'? Is it supposed to be at the point of buildings? I.e. will getting rid of coal boilers be enough, because electricity production is not 100% carbon free, so will they have to offset emissions regardless of whether they have coal boilers and ICE cars or not?
Too many questions, and I wasn't even thinking hard.

Yes. Incremental additional load will be generated from thermal power stations. Brilliant. Not.

Whats new, all this government does is throw out hugs and warm ideas with no investigation into the actual trade offs and costs associated with it. Essential Fresh Water, firearms legislation, three waters, indigenous biodiversity... the list goes on.

If the public sector wants electric cars they can buy them out of their salary like the rest of us. Surely this money is better spent researching and developing ways to cut down the worlds fossil burning?

The go-to fix from our leadership on every issue (private and public) is to source stuff from elsewhere - labour, materials, expertise and tech.

To think passing an emergency legislation alone will change our global position as net consumers of hi-tech products and knowledge is so naïve.
Much of our environmental research funding lacks systemic approach and consistency, according to recent government report.

16000 Crown vehicles X $60000 min/per vehicle=?960,000,000 or double for Tesla xc; and they want to change these far from emissions free vehicles every 3 years??
Shaw calls it "walking the talk", (at massive taxpayer expense), I'd call it... uneducated virtue signalling

How quick would public transport be fixed if all public servants had to use only that?

Bit hard to get a bus to a DOC hut in the Kaimanawa's

Another policy announced as a distraction with ZERO assessment of the costs and benefits which strangely, are a requirement for governments when establishing policy. Even though Labour set this aside. I see I'm not the only one to point this out, but I didn't really have high expectations of Cindy and her pet James Shaw.
As a distraction from their issues with housing, its just ongoing PR politics with no substance, just like the lady herself.

Ardern and Shaw are NOT change / transformational people. In fact I can't see one NZ politician who is one. So WE mustn't even expect small change, other than in the 'kindness' area! What is needed is the Tough Love approach of the Activist.

Zero Carbon is THE biggest smokescreen and mushroomin device politicians and business around the world have created to make 'US" think the activist's tough love is not needed: That a sustainable world is easy.

If everyone in the world today lived like the AVERAGE NZ-er 'we', 'The World', would need 3.5 planets to sustain 'us'! A Zero Carbon Public service won't change that.....!

It's Hopeless and I'm Helpless... But it is the lies and deception for self serving popularity, wealthprotection / enhancement and celebrity status that used to make me really angry. And the electorate fall for 'it' as they vote 'these people' in!!!! But anger gives these people even more power: Power to affect our wellbeing! Best to seek freedom away from all this very disappointing, but very human behaviour. Read more here at:

Bottom line; it appears that from a policy perspective our pollies didn't understand what declaring a Climate Emergency actually meant?

Surely it means that they must now move from incentivising (for example putting a price on carbon and enabling carbon credit trading) a move away from Greenhouse Gas (GG) production to actually regulating against it. It would mean they will require local authorities to begin planning on rolling back settlement and infrastructure on vulnerable land (like water fronts). It would mean regulating that no forest could be milled without it being replaced. It would mean that farmers must in some way offset their GG production by a means other than buying Carbon Credits. It would mean that they make alternative fuels (H2 infrastructure, and EV charging) more readily available. It would mean they make alternative fuel vehicles cheaper and more accessible, and that there be infrastructure for recycling EV batteries. The list goes on.

Greta agrees with you

One good thing about Covid - we don't see much of that obstropulous spoilt little brat now - long may she stay silent.

Or, no emergency should have been called.

Actually murray most of your rant is a bit off the mark. If you're talking about GHGs then it doesn't matter WHERE you build, it's about WHAT you build and HOW you build it, Forests currently being milled ARE replanted (mostly), sheep and beef farms have been proven to be carbon negative and our dairy farms have the lowest carbon footprint in the world (even accounting for shipping), H2 fuel is known to be nett energy negative (and thus emissions positive) when the entire cycle (from production through to user) is counted and EVs (after a substantial study in Europe) turn out to be nett emission positive as well when "whole of life" accounting is considered - more so than the newer efficient ICE powered vehicles. We could move to CNG or LPG powered transport and electric Public Transport but that would take leadership and decision making skills this country sadly lacks

Talk the talk. I'm happy there's no walk the walk in this matter. Talk is cheap but money buys the whisky. Hopefully they don't find the money. But wait. Orr to the rescue.

Yeah, good one! Every person with a bigger than 'fair' footprint should go and experience for 12 months, how radical the lifestyle change is to get to Fair share use of our way in debt ecological capacity..... One flight to Europe and back will use 'you' whole annual fairshare.... But who wants to hear that truth...? Walk the Talk-ers is what the world leadeship lacks now! It doesn't serve their Success story so they won't go there... We all know that.... The enabler of this Whole Problem is the way 'we' value money and how 'our' success is linked to having more money (wealth). An Covid has shown that the money 'printing' machines are only going to get busier.... Because the system needs spending to stay propped up....

Based on current performance (er - 'performance') the cost will be orders of magnitude greater than the best estimates, and the benefits orders of magnitude smaller (especially when viewed through the lens of global emissions). But the Optics ...think of the Optics.....

Taxing kiwi's to send millions offshore to wealth corporate types for 0.17% of the world's emission, is this really a progressive government?

Hope all you people who voted Labour and/or the Greens are enjoying yet more iterations of "we haven't got a clue about what to do, haven't costed it yet (see first phrase), don't know if it'll work but it's the thought that counts". You'ld think these muppets would've learnt from Kiwi(not)build, and Auckland Light Rail - seems not

All the coments above just show what the real problem is: In 26 people who commented there is not even a remote agreement on what THE Problem that 'we' call 'The Climate Problem' really is? It is no wonder the politicians are free to do what they want for their own self serving good, and keep 'us' all commenting, arguing with each other, confused and in denial! By now, with the Climate Tragedy right on top of us, 'WE' should have a crystal clear picture of what The Goal for Success is and How 'We' are going to achieve it! It is NOT a Carbon Problem... Its a Life Definition of Success Problem, and then a system that enables the Success. Until 'we' see that We are aiming at the wrong Success the Tragedy will deepen. My Truths: Yes, but after many years exploring, detached from society and having moved far away from The Wrong Success of today!

Cost could be unknown for now, but it's a clear signal already been warn by the RBNZ chief, weeks before Jacinda speech. This is a course for the next massive QEs, should be tripling at least to the current Covid19 one.