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'End to dirty coal-powered boilers': Govt expands clean energy in schools programme

Article Republished By Javier Troconis

Watch: New Zealand Emissions Reduction Plan discussion document released to public. Credits: Video – Newshub; Image – Getty Images.

All remaining coal boilers in New Zealand schools will be replaced with “clean, green, low-carbon” options, the Climate Change Minister has announced.

The Government is allocating $10 million from its $220 million State Sector Decarbonisation Fund to replace remaining coal boilers with renewable woody biomass or electric heating sources by 2025. It’s being met with a $10 million investment from the Ministry of Education’s budget. 

According to the Climate Change Minister, replacing the coal boilers will reduce carbon emissions by about 35,400 tonnes over 10 years. 

“I am delighted to announce an end to dirty coal-powered boilers in our schools. This investment means more young people will be kept warm and healthy at school, using clean, green, low-carbon energy,” said James Shaw.

“Clean energy in schools is a win for our kid’s health and the climate, and shows that what’s good for the environment is also good for New Zealanders.”

Eight schools were initially identified in January 2020 to have their coal boilers replaced. Other schools with the oldest and least efficient boilers have been prioritised since then, Shaw said on Friday. But now work will begin on the remaining boilers.

“Today’s commitment is a major expansion of the programme and means that around 180 schools with coal boilers will be in a position to prioritise the transition to clean energy.

“It’s estimated these projects will cut carbon emissions by almost 36,000 tonnes over ten years – that’s the same as taking 1400 cars off the road.”

Funding for a number of other projects was announced on Friday, with $22.92 million being allocated from the State Sector Decarbonisation Fund.

Kāinga Ora is receiving more than $3.7 million to purchase electric vehicles and install charging infrastructure. That will be invested alongside about $4.9 million from its own budget. Others receiving funds for electric vehicles and new heating systems include the police, the Ministry of Social Development and a number of District Health Boards (DHBs). 

The State Sector Decarbonisation Fund is part of the Carbon Neutral Government Programme, which is tasked with accelerating the reduction of emissions within the public sector. The programme has achieved a reduction of 433,981 tonnes of carbon over 10 years, the equivalent of taking 17,400 cars off the road. 

It requires the public sector to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025, with agencies measuring and publicly reporting on their emissions, and offsetting any they can’t cut by then. That requirement came alongside the Government’s announcement of a climate emergency in December 2020. 

The Government will reveal its emissions reduction plan in the coming weeks ahead of Budget 2022. It will set out the policy and regulatory change needed to cut down on emissions. 

The latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory released in April by the Ministry for the Environment showed gross greenhouse gas emissions increased by 21 percent between 1990 and 2020. 

Agriculture makes up 50 percent of New Zealand’s total emissions, followed by energy making up 40 percent. Emissions from the waste sector decreased by 17 percent due to ongoing improvements in the management of solid waste disposal at landfills.

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