Despite few commitments to reduce emissions in the monster $50 billion Budget, New Zealand is in talks to join an alliance of nations committing to a green Covid-19 recovery, Marc Daalder reports

New Zealand may join a proposed Sustainable Recovery Alliance, a bloc of countries pledging ahead of the next climate summit to a sustainable economic recovery from Covid-19.

When asked whether New Zealand was looking to sign up, Climate Change Minister James Shaw told Newsroom, “We’re in conversations about it”.

The COP26 climate summit was slated to take place in Glasgow in November of this year, but has now been postponed 12 months. Even so, academics, environmentalists and politicians like Shaw himself have said the coming months, in which governments borrow billions to get their economies on track, might be the climate’s “Last Chance Saloon”.

The formation of a bloc of countries pledging to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime stimulus opportunity to decarbonise their economies has been frequently mooted in recent weeks. The so-called Sustainable Recovery Alliance could grow out of a public and private sector European effort called the Green Recovery Alliance.

While New Zealand appears interested in signing up to the eventual bloc, the country has yet to put its money where its mouth is. Less than 3 percent of the Government’s historic 2020 Budget appears to have major climate implications.

There is still a multi-billion dollar shovel-ready infrastructure fund and $20 billion of additional stimulus yet-to-be earmarked, but New Zealand First has rubbished the idea of putting that money towards a green recovery.

As Newsroom reported in May, Infrastructure Minister and New Zealand First MP Shane Jones has put the kibosh on hopes for major green investment.

We are facing, in the post-Covid environment, one of the most severe threats to economic resilience. And I just don’t think that the public or society is going to tolerate new reams of green or red tape,” he said.

“This notion that we’re somehow going to issue a green edict and all of a sudden that we’ll be driving hydrogen cars and legally smoking dope in the new economic nirvana is just never ever going to work.”

Marc Daalder is a senior political reporter based in Wellington who covers climate change, health, energy and violent extremism. Twitter/Bluesky: @marcdaalder

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