31 May 2024

Budget 2024: What survived and what was cut from Climate Emergency Response Fund

5:46 am on 31 May 2024
Power supply for electric car charging.  Electric car charging station. Close up of the power supply plugged into an electric car being charged.

Among the climate change initiatives previously funded from the CERF which will survive is infrastructure for a public network of electric vehicle charging stations. File photo Photo: 123RF

A long list of climate programmes have been scrapped or reduced to help fund the government's tax cuts.

Funding cuts in the Budget for 2024 affect research on how to shrink farming greenhouse gases, a programme for establishing native forests and work on bringing in a price on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

The Climate Change Commission has had its planned funding reduced by about a quarter, and will no longer deliver independent advice to the government on pricing farming gases, as it would have under the previous government.

The Coalition has pushed back the deadline for pricing farm gases, methane and nitrous oxide, which are not priced currently and make up about half New Zealand's greenhouse emissions. Emitters of carbon dioxide from petrol, diesel, gas and coal typically pay for these.

The government also previously announced it would appoint its own panel to report back on methane from farming, though it has not announced the cost or make-up of that panel.

A project to make 3D maps of 85 percent of the New Zealand coastline will now map 40 percent instead, another Budget 2024 reduction.

Read more on Budget 2024:

Meanwhile, money set aside for future investments in cleaner transport and walking and cycling under the previous government's transport directives have been put back in the general coffers.

In total over four years, through both the mini Budget and Budget 2024, the government has redirected $2.4 billion in previously ring-fenced climate spending into other spending - although several climate programmes have survived, under different funding streams.

The government gave itself more money to play with by taking money from the Climate Emergency Response fund (CERF), which took money raised from selling carbon credits to polluters under the Emissions Trading Scheme and put it into climate-related projects.

That money has now been redistributed to general spending, although some of the projects CERF funded are continuing.

Climate Change Minister Simon Watts said the Budget included new investments in stop banks and flood walls and a $200 million boost for the Rail Network Improvement Programme.

He also confirmed about $2.6 billion of climate change initiatives previously funded from the CERF would survive.

These include:

  • a public network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure,
  • a grant scheme for clean heavy vehicles,
  • a fund for decarbonising the public transport fleet, supporting local authorities to purchase electric buses,
  • public transport concessions for community service card holders,
  • development of an on-farm emission measurement scheme,
  • supporting New Zealand's International Climate Finance Commitment,
  • and the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme.

But other climate projects were cut or reduced, either to claw back CERF funding or meet public service savings targets at the Ministry for the Environment, Te Puni Kokiri, Ministry for Primary Industries and others.

Areas where spending has been cut include: (savings are the total over four years).

  • Climate Change Commission: scaling back baseline funding and ditching plans by the previous Government for the commission to advise on pricing of agricultural emissions. Savings: $16m.
  • Reduced funding for the Climate Change Chief Executives Board, implementation of the Carbon Neutral Government Programme and other climate work programmes at Ministry for the Environment. Savings: $35m
  • Scaled back funding for research and planting programme, called Establishing Native Forests at Scale run by Ministry for Primary Industries. Savings: $50m.
  • 3D Coastal Mapping: Instead of mapping 85 per cent of the New Zealand coastline will now map 40 percent: Savings: $9m
  • Hapori Māori programme to improve evidence available to Māori communities about climate change, adaptation, and resilience. Savings: $23m
  • 10 percent cut to the Accelerating Development of Agriculture Greenhouse Gas Emissions Mitigation Programme. Savings: $11m
  • Developing Mātauranga Māori-based approaches to Accelerating Development of Agriculture Greenhouse Gas Emissions Mitigation Programme. Separate funding scrapped and programme joined with the main programme above. Savings: $37m.
  • Ditching of planned expansion of On Farm Support Services by Ministry for Primary Industries. Funding at the current level will continue. Savings: $27m
  • Reducing funds held for developing an agricultural emissions pricing system to approximately $3m a year. Savings: $164m.
  • Transport: Returning funding for delivering the previous Government's August 2023 draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport. Savings: $500m.
  • Return of unspent of funding from the Climate Emergency Response Fund: $900m

Green Party co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick said the remaining funding was nowhere near required for the scale of the crisis and the government was "choosing to bury its head in the coal".

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