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Support for ERP but urgent need to speed up work - NZEI Te Riu Roa

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Zealand’s largest education union NZEI Te Riu Roa welcomes the Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan released earlier today but is urging it to take even bolder steps as Aotearoa transitions to a low carbon economy.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Liam Rutherford says all workers will need support as the country moves to a low emission economy

"I am grateful for the work done by the relevant Ministers in putting together such a comprehensive framework," Mr Rutherford says. "But we also know that urgent action is needed to address climate change and we would like to see that recognised by all sectors of the economy and all political parties."

Mr Rutherford says one thing that stood out for him in the ERP was the positive messages about public transport and the encouragement of families to purchase low emissions vehicles.

"NZEI Te Riu Roa is a member of the Fares Free campaign and lowering transport costs for working families is a key action in addressing poverty," he says. "We are looking ahead to see if there are any further announcements about cheap or free public transport either in Thursday’s Budget or over the course of the next year."

Mr Rutherford says that it’s also important the Government taps into the networks that schools provide into communities - something they indicated with the inclusion of pre-tertiary education in the ERP.

"We know that schools and kura can be valuable change agents and we think with the right level of resourcing and support, educators and schools can be a valuable conduit to helping communities transition and adapt," he says.

"But we do need to see a comprehensive strategy on how climate education will be incorporated into the curriculum at all ages. And how the necessary training, professional development and resources will be provided."

Mr Rutherford says while it was good to see the Government’s recognition of empowering Māori and acknowledgement of the need for equitable transition, any such work needed to be funded and communicated properly, alongside meaningful engagement with tangata whenua.

He also expressed concern that there was little mention of engaging Pasifika communities within New Zealand or with Pacific nations, many of which are connected politically to Aotearoa and through whanaungatanga.

Mr Rutherford also noted the ERP makes no mention of phasing out the roughly 900 remaining diesel, oil and gas-fired boilers in schools to follow up their recent announcement that coal-fired boilers would be phased out by 2025.

"Time is ticking," Mr Rutherford says. "We supported the decision on coal boilers but hoped the ERP would address the urgent need to make schools fossil-fuel free.

"We think our tamariki deserve learning environments that reflect the kind of future we want for them."

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