Climate Change and the Budget.

By Rachel Bolstad, co-chair of Tiakina te Taiao

Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union’s newest network – Tiakina te Taiao | Climate Action Network – has taken a closer look at the climate change measures in Budget 2022 that Finance Minister Grant Robertson described in his budget speech as “an historic milestone”.

A headline initiative in Budget 2022 is a new Climate Emergency Response Fund (CERF) – a dedicated funding source for public investment on climate-related initiatives, with an initial $4.5 billion to be taken from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The CERF investments for Budget 2022 total $2.9 billion and include a strong focus on transport initiatives.

A government Budget prioritising climate action is welcomed, and overdue given how little time is left to make major changes and how long this has been ‘kicked down the road’. The government’s Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP), which underpins this year’s CERF spending, aims to meet the climate budgets set by the Climate Commission. To achieve this, all sectors will need to be involved and sustained investment is required so this Budget funding and the initiatives identified are welcomed.

Some measures announced in the Budget seem to be plans to make plans, but it does include $16 million to develop an equitable transitions strategy in collaboration with the people and communities who will be most affected by the transition. Ensuring Just Transitions and Climate Justice is why unions, including TEU, need to be active and at the table helping to shape these plans and ensure the voice of workers whose jobs will be affected are heard.

Tertiary education has a critical role and contribution to make towards equitable transitions by generating knowledge related to climate change, educating students and communities by including information in courses and changing curricula to support attitude change, innovation, and career adaptation.

The ERP included commitments to empowering and working in partnership with Māori, and it is critical that Māori are supported as leaders and partners in all climate response work. We note $31 million allocated in the Budget for a Māori Climate action platform and would welcome more details on how this will operate. Unfortunately, most people don’t have time to read through these big plans and documents.

In our Tiakina te Taiao network we try to pool the knowledge from our members with expertise and share information so that we are all building our knowledge and capabilities to tackle the challenges of climate change. Budget information and the vast amounts of information on climate change can be confusing for New Zealanders in general – there is a lot we all need to learn and understand to be able to be part of the changes and transitions we need to make. Our tertiary sector certainly has many with the technical expertise to provide an informed opinion and to assist all of us to better understand what we need to do.

Governments need social license to be more ambitious and visionary in their climate response and it is true that we all have a part to play. To read the overview of the climate change section of Budget 2022 – click here.

To find out more on climate change, to be better informed on what is happening across our sector and to take action for a more sustainable and just future for the planet and people, join Tiakina te Taiao.

The next meeting of the Tiakina te Taiao network is at 4pm on Tuesday 14 June.