GZ Auckland's Climate Policy Checklist

Welcome to the Generation Zero Auckland Climate Policy Checklist! Below you’ll find a list of questions to ask when reading a party’s policies so you can vote through a climate lens. 

Parties may have specific environmental policies, but all policy has climate effects. 

But how can I vote through a climate lens? 

This means focusing on how climate change affects both people and the environment.  Climate change will affect everyone differently, some more than others. Some of the groups likely to be significantly impacted are Māori and Pasifika communities, women, youth, and People of Colour, as well as people who identify as LGBTQIA+ or functionally diverse (otherwise known as people with disabilities). 

Voting with a climate lens means listening to these communities and prioritising their needs. This needs to be considered when looking at all policies. Check out our Climate Justice Brochure for more info.

Voting with a climate lens also means prioritising Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This includes ensuring all policies provide equitable benefits for tangata whenua and uphold tino rangatiratanga (Māori sovereignty and autonomy).

We need policies which guarantee no one gets left behind. So, let’s get to the policies!

P.S. Here are links to each party’s policy page (where they have one) so once you’re done with a category you can go straight to the actual policies and put them to the test

🔍 Labour, National, Greens, ACT, TOP, Maori, New Conservatives 🔍

Transport

Transport accounts for a fifth of New Zealand’s total emissions, with our urban areas particularly guilty. Decades of investment has seen our cities built up for car and private vehicle travel. The freedom that road infrastructure aims to offer is eroded by congestion, cost barriers, and its contribution to climate change. Providing alternative transport options that are sustainable, affordable, and accessible to everyone gives people a viable alternative to their car, and will play a big role in reducing these emissions. For an example, check out our campaign to decarbonise Auckland’s transport by 2030 (and sign the open letter!) on our campaigns page.

  • Active and public transport create much fewer emissions per capita and therefore needs to be a focus in parties’ transport policies.
  • Constructing active and public transport infrastructure beyond city centres (where it is currently focused) empowers those in historically underfunded suburbs (which are often disproportionately Māori and Pasifika communities) to travel in a healthy, sustainable, and cheaper way instead of locking in their dependence on private vehicles.
  • Unaffordable transport limits who is able to travel. The ongoing costs of car ownership are high and public transport should be a cheap and reliable alternative that gives all people the freedom to move. This could be achieved by establishing discounts, increasing central government funding, or low flat-rates. For other ideas, have a look at our Freeze the Fares campaign from last year.
  • Everyone should have low-carbon transport choices to enable them to get around. People with disabilities need to be involved in the design of transport infrastructure from start to finish to ensure that these historically (and currently) marginalised communities are not put at risk.
  • Transitioning to zero emissions transport of people and goods is necessary to keep Aotearoa ticking along in a climate-friendly world.
Housing and Urban Development

Shelter is a basic human right, yet many Kiwis struggle to find healthy and safe housing. The types of housing we choose to build can both reduce our impact on the environment and protect us from the effects of climate change. Its potential role in both mitigation and adaptation therefore makes it crucial to get right.

  • Right now many structurally marginalised people, including from People of Colour, Pasifika, and LGBTQIA+ communities, are forced to accept housing that hurts both their wallet and our planet. Look for policies that seek to improve the delivery of affordable housing that is warm and dry from the get-go and makes it easy for renters to ask for better.
  • Our building developments need to be more resilient, through opportunities like reclaiming and using water sustainably and using locally-sourced construction materials with low-embodied carbon. Building Code reform also needs to go beyond improved environmental performance to include best practice accessibility requirements that are long overdue. It is just as important policies prioritise these advancements in both social housing and new public buildings.
  • This is important as it minimises resource use and carbon produced. While the most obvious impact is reducing trip distances (and therefore transport emissions), transit-oriented development also provides opportunities for more efficient use of land and facilities, and protection of rural land alongside run-on effects on residents’ health and wellbeing.
  • This will ensure that the homes New Zealanders already live in are warm and dry and that they will have lower emissions on a day-to-day basis.
  • Papaikāinga refers to housing/mixed-use developments on Māori-owned land intended for hapū and iwi occupancy. Supporting the development of these kinds of housing is an important step in restoring iwi’s rangatiratanga and honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Historically, Māori have been pushed out of inner-city homes to outer suburban, car-dependent areas. Delivering housing within urban centres specifically for - and returning land to - Māori is central to achieving climate justice, enabling more choice in lifestyle, and reducing fossil fuel reliance.
  • People from marginalised groups, particularly people that identify as LGBTQIA+, are at a higher risk of experiencing homelessness. Individuals experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Their exposure to increased temperatures, extreme weather events, and reduced air quality puts them at greater health risk. Climate change can also create more homelessness.
  • The affordability crisis and housing shortages we are facing in parts of New Zealand’s housing market require government intervention. Measures like a capital gains tax can start to address the commodification of housing and its current reinforcement of the wealth gap and poverty trap that hurt our most marginalised communities.
Energy and Regional Development

New Zealand has a reputation for ‘clean’ electricity, with over 80% generated from renewable sources. But when you include all the other ways energy is used (for example industrial processes, manufacturing, and transport), our total energy supply is only 40% renewable. This means that energy is the second largest source of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, making up 41%. In order to tackle these emissions, we need to scale up our renewables as well as scale down our fossil fuel use. But this has to be done in an inclusive way, for both those who currently work to provide our energy and their communities.

  • So that they are not unfairly left behind, workers in high emissions industries need to be involved in decision-making about their future.
  • As Aotearoa transitions to a zero-carbon economy, more and more people will work in ‘green jobs’. To prepare for this we will need training, and it is important that all people have equitable access to these future opportunities.
  • Party policies need to set a strong directive to entirely decarbonise our electricity production. However, transitioning New Zealand away from fossil fuels means we will need more electricity than ever before, so it is important that the renewable energy strategy accounts for this. Renewable energy must also be affordable or we risk excluding marginalised groups from taking part in our clean energy future.
Economic Recovery, Tax, Welfare

COVID-19 has highlighted how unexpected and unpredictable crises impact the most marginalised in our society. Unfortunately, those worst affected by the pandemic will also be disproportionately harmed by climate change - only the impacts of the climate crisis will be more severe. An economic recovery that responds to both the pandemic and the climate crisis is needed to lay the foundations for a low carbon economy from which we can build a more prosperous Aotearoa. Effective tax and welfare systems are key: by providing public services and opportunities for all New Zealanders, we can build more resilient communities and secure a future where all members of society can thrive.

  • Under the Zero Carbon Act, New Zealand needs to produce zero emissions by 2050. Now is a golden opportunity to build a zero-emissions economy. Delaying action will only make this transition more costly and put our economy at risk of climate change-related economic shocks. As we’ve seen from COVID-19, sudden economic shocks generally worst impact people who are already marginalised - another reason to start building a sustainable, resilient economy now.
  • Aotearoa is already being impacted by climate change (including sea level rise, glacier melt, temperature increase, and extreme weather events) and unfortunately this is set to continue. How we will deal with this to achieve fair and equitable outcomes for those disproportionately impacted, including Māori,) needs to be on the political agenda.
  • As the effects of climate change worsen and sea levels rise, New Zealand needs to assist in resettling climate migrants. Countries across the Pacific are some of the first to experience the effects of climate change. Our neighbours in the South Pacific have to already contend with king tides which flood whole islands. While many in these nations choose to stay, a number also migrate, and this is likely to increase into the future. Alongside prioritising efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change from eventuating we also need a plan to support the resettling of climate migrants in New Zealand, and specifically tailor housing policy to accommodate their needs.
  • Mātauranga Māori and Western climate science are complementary and are important to inform effective policy measures. Climate change also needs to be communicated in a way that relates to Māori communities, who are more at risk of experiencing its impacts.
  • While investment in physical infrastructure is important, it creates jobs in male-dominated industries - whereas women made up over 90% of Kiwis who lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Investment in social infrastructure creates nearly twice as many jobs as investment in construction, and decreases the gender gap in employment. There are co-benefits as well; investment in our ageing hospital infrastructure will help safeguard our collective health, and investment in our education system will heighten our innovation and ensure our youth are well equipped for the future.
  • Funding should ensure that all businesses are ready to play their role in emissions reduction, and that smaller businesses get the support they need to do so.
  • A regressive tax system disproportionately hurts more marginalised communities (such as Māori and Pasifika, who are less advantaged across a wide range of socioeconomic indicators). A better and more progressive tax system would improve living standards and wellbeing for all, and incentivise actions and behaviours to reduce emissions.
  • To ensure that Aotearoa’s economic recovery from COVID-19 is fair, funding needs to promote long-term economic development in the regions that have been most impacted.
  • Having a reliable social safety net available for those who need it most improves the wellbeing and living standards of everyone, even those not accessing the support system. For example, increasing unemployment benefits means greater income security and reduced income inequality, both of which result in higher levels of social wellbeing and increased ability to adapt to climate change.
Agriculture & Forestry

Agriculture accounts for nearly half of Aotearoa’s emissions: twice the OECD average. Developing a more integrated approach to land management that considers climate change alongside other important issues (such as biodiversity, biosecurity, land degradation, water resource use) must be one of the key areas of policy in our climate change response. To meet New Zealand’s emissions reduction targets and transition successfully to a low-emissions economy, stronger action is needed by the farming industry. Government leadership will be essential to ensure this transition is just and inclusive. Similarly, the government must set the direction for forestry. Trees are nature’s carbon sinks and so forestry can play a critical role in reducing emissions, but any changes of land use must be carefully considered to protect the integrity of rural communities traditionally built around farming.

  • Our agricultural practices cause a significant amount of emissions, but also have more immediate consequences on the environment. The heavy use of synthetic fertilisers in intensive farming causes groundwater and surface water pollution, as well as excess nitrogen flows into the biosphere. But with agriculture holding a key part of New Zealand’s history and identity, there is often little acceptance of the harm it has caused in party policy.
  • Our agricultural system needs to progressively move towards less resource intensive and low emission farming practices to meet our emissions commitments, as well as to help protect and reestablish healthy waterways. It’s important that alternatives are provided to those that will need to change their current practices, to ensure they aren’t left out of pocket with no incentive to change.
  • Tangata Whenua are kaitiakitanga (stewards or guardians) of soil and land, which are taonga. As such, mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) is well-equipped to protect these taonga in a sustainable way.
  • Climate change will cause more frequent and severe weather events such as floods and droughts. Regions need investment and support to build resilience to these events.
  • Intensive farming and forestry practices harm waterways, damage aquatic species, and cause erosion. Policy action is needed to mandate sustainable practices that can benefit one of our most precious resources.
  • New Zealand needs to both grow food and regenerate forests, but rapid land use change can destabilise long-standing communities. Strategic policy is needed to assist regional centres affected by changes in land use, with regulatory action promoting sustainable practices.