Rail and electric vehicles are a focus for Budget 2021, as the Government continues its efforts to bring down emissions.
KiwiRail is getting $1.3 billion over four years. The package includes funding for 60 new trains, re-opening the Wairoa to Napier line, and a third main line in Auckland.
The money will also go towards replacing locomotives, maintaining infrastructure and building new facilities.
“Now the vast majority of our rail network is also electric, rather than diesel. So, it is a fantastic alternative to the heavy diesel trucks that are on the roads,” Climate Change Minister James Shaw said.
But Greenpeace said the move, and Budget 2021 in general, wasn’t as “transformational” as they’d hoped.
“It’s pretty much only enough to keep up with maintenance costs [for trains],” climate campaigner Amanda Larsson said.
The agriculture sector, New Zealand's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, gets $61 million dollars to help it reduce emissions.
Federated Farmers is welcoming the move.
However, Larsson said it was disappointing.
“We'd really hoped we'd see a $1 billion investment in helping farmers to switch to regenerative farming, but it's not in there,” she said.
Another $300 million is going into an investment fund for “green” projects, including encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles, decarbonising public transport and low-carbon technology.
A scheme to encourage people to buy more fuel-efficient cars gets resurrected in Budget 2021, after being stymied by New Zealand First last term — $302 million has been set aside for it.
The motor industry applauded the move, but others say it’s only an incremental change.
“It’s a good step. You can’t argue with $2.3 billion, which will help to decarbonise the economy,” Shaw said.
“Is it enough? No, it isn’t. There will always be more to do.”
Budget 2021 also includes a $120 million fund to make 48,000 homes warmer and more energy efficient.
New Zealand Green Building Council chief executive Andrew Eagles said the money was “just a drop in the bucket”.
He said more than 400,000 households would need that type of improvement, and the Government needed to go “far, far further”.