NZ Election 2020: Labour unveils climate change policy, promises funding for farmers, decarbonised bus fleet

Labour has unveiled its climate change policy - promising to decarbonise the public transport bus fleet by 2035, phase out coal-fired boilers and give more funding for agricultural research programmes. 

Leader Jacinda Ardern called climate change "my generation's nuclear free moment" and said the party's plan would continue work done by the Government over the past three years.

"During our first term in Government, climate change was at the centre of all our policy work and commitments. It is inextricably linked to our decisions on issues like housing, agriculture, waste, energy and transport," Ardern said on Wednesday.

"We firmly believe that to have a real impact on climate change, we must build consensus so the changes stick, and the work must be integral to the range of major policy decisions governments make.

"The next term will be focused on the practical steps New Zealand can take to reduce emissions and keep building on the foundations we have already put in place."

The party pledged to phase out fossil fuels in process heat by preventing installations of new long and medium temperature coal-fired boilers. 

It also said it would require that only zero-emissions buses be purchased by 2025, with the goal of completely decarbonising the public transport bus fleet by 2035. In order to achieve this, regional councils would be helped through a $50 million fund over four years, the party said.

Farmers were also promised a funding boost to help them transition to more climate-friendly practices.

"New Zealand's agriculture sector and our farmers already do so much to address climate change and Labour will support them in that work by increasing funding across agricultural climate change research programmes by $6 million a year, to boost research happening in New Zealand and build on our international leadership in this area.

"This demonstrates our overarching approach to consider climate change in all our work."

The latest funding promise follows a pledge to invest $50 million to create an integrated farm planning framework that would help farmers reduce compliance costs and transition to environmentally friendly agricultural practices.

Last month, Labour pledged to bring forward the target of 100 percent renewable electricity generation five years to 2030.

The party's climate change spokesperson Megan Woods on Wednesday said in the wake of COVID-19, tackling climate change brought an opportunity to create jobs

"Labour's plan for recovery is about investing for the future, with investments that will deliver huge benefits to local businesses, accelerate the economic recovery, and help our climate.

"Our policies are designed to make the most of that and create a platform for growth in our traditional industries, alongside the creation of new ones."