8 Aug 2023

PM Hipkins hails $2b BlackRock climate investment fund for renewable energy

11:30 am on 8 August 2023

A "first-of-its-kind" $2 billion climate infrastructure fund has been announced by the government.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement in Auckland this morning, saying the government is partnering with investment company BlackRock to launch the fund with the goal of making New Zealand the first country in the world to reach 100 percent renewable electricity.

"It will be BlackRock's largest single-nation decarbonisation investment to date," he said.

"I am absolutely stoked that we've been able to secure this world-leading investment in New Zealand businesses and it's proof of our ambitious climate targets having the world's attention.

"This investment will be a boon for Kiwi businesses and it will make New Zealand a hub for renewable tech expertise."

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins delivers his first major foreign policy speech.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Hipkins said he spoke to business directors in Auckland last week about how climate action is good for their bottom lines as well as the climate.

"Increasingly consumers and companies around the world, and the companies our exporters supply to, are making good climate practices a condition for doing businesses," he said.

The recent EU trade deal has climate obligations built into it, and "decreasing our carbon emissions is no longer a nice to have but an essential part of doing global business".

He said some have argued New Zealand should be a "fast follower" in emissions reductions, but he could not disagree more.

"Big opportunities for New Zealand lie in our climate leadership," he said.

Hipkins outlined the government's climate actions to date, and said the government has taken more action on the matter in the last six years than all other governments combined.

"Our actions are bending the curve on emissions, with climate pollution falling through 2020, 2021, and 2022 with the December 2022 quarter delivering the lowest figure in at least nine years."

Hipkins said the climate infrastructure fund will mean renewable energy intellectual properties (IP) can be developed in New Zealand.

"It's the exact type of government and private sector climate partnership that's central to my vision for action on climate, partnering with and supporting industry to solve the climate crisis is a no-brainer and continuing to do so is my commitment as a prime minister."

Today is a watershed moment in New Zealand's transition to 100 percent renewable, and the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, Hipkins said.

"To BlackRock, thank you for your confidence in our climate plans and actions, I'm confident this is a big step forward for climate action, that's going to achieve significant results."

Megan Woods

Energy Minister Megan Woods. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Energy Minister Megan Woods said today is a day where we show how we can both grow the economy and slash emissions.

"It started with leadership, with our government's decision to ban further offshore oil and gas exploration."

Woods said: "BlackRock's commitment of this world-leading fund recognises the ambition and leadership that New Zealand has demonstrated in its pursuit of reaching its energy transition goals. And this fund will allow New Zealand to go further and faster."

She said New Zealand is better placed than many other countries in the world to develop more renewable energy projects.

Head of BlackRock Australasia, Andrew Landman, said it is the first time it has done a country-specific initiative like this.

"We've benefited over the last 10 years managing various retirement savings for New Zealand and I think through that engagement we've learnt so much about the innovation in New Zealand and also the institutional investors here - whether you feel it or not - in Auckland, are global leaders.

"They have really driven this idea very hard with us, and we've thought about it."

Landman said BlackRock is one of the largest asset managers in the world, and the decision to go with New Zealand is because the level of innovation "is far greater in this country than we see elsewhere in clean tech".

"We are seeing an enormous amount of visionary capabilities out of those invested companies that are great for the country but also great for the export capability sector.

"We firmly believe New Zealand could be the first country in the world to achieve the 100 percent target, and this initiative is one step closer."

BlackRock Asia-Pacific co-head of climate infrastructure Charlie Reid said to get to net-zero by 2050, the world needs to invest $200 trillion of capital.

"Bring that closer to home, that's $1b every hour until 2050, and when you look at New Zealand, New Zealand is currently in the future with 83 percent renewables."

To get to the next stage, Reid said providing energy security and reliability will also be important.

The investment required to reach the 100 percent target, about $42b of capital will be needed, he said.

Today's initiative will contribute capital for New Zealand businesses to develop wind, solar, batteries, EV charging, green hydrogen, natural capital and other climate solutions. It is a once-in-a-generation investment opportunity, Reid said.

"From my perspective ... we truly believe that New Zealand is a leader in climate infrastructure globally."

The spirit of innovation and the ease of doing business in New Zealand is unparalleled around the world, he said.

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