A good start but a lot more needs to be done - that's the view of Northland environmental advocates quizzed about Budget 2022.
Most of the Government's $2.9 billion plan to tackle climate change was revealed in Monday's Emissions Reduction Plan, which will be paid for by the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) - but the Budget delivered a few extras.
They included extensions to half-price public transport and expanded native forest planting for carbon capture.
Monday's biggest announcement was a $569m scrap-and-replace scheme to help low-income households ditch their old gas-guzzlers and switch to hybrid or electric vehicles (EVs).
Paihia EV advocate Craig Salmon said despite being a "massive fan" of electric cars, he believed they were only part of the answer.
Making half-price public transport permanent for Community Service Card holders was "an absolute no-brainer" that should have been done long ago, he said.
It was also a social justice issue because the poor often had to travel the furthest, and hence pay the most, to get to their workplaces.
"EVs aren't going to solve the climate crisis. They're only one part of decarbonisation, with EVs for places like Northland where mass transit doesn't make sense financially but in places like Auckland it's about getting people from A to B as efficiently as possible - and that's really about cheap public transport," Salmon said.
The scheme to help low-income people trade their high-emissions cars for EVs also made total sense. He hoped the trial of 2500 vehicles would be made permanent.
Bob Bingham, who writes about climate issues for the Kaitaia-based Northland Age, said it was the first time the Government had presented a plan to the New Zealand public which attempted to meet internationally agreed emissions targets.
The EV rebates and 'cash for clunkers' scheme would finally lead to progress in switching to electric transport, though the big problem would be importing sufficient supplies of EVs.
Other concerns with the plan included New Zealand needing to buy carbon credits from abroad to meet its targets, and the overly complicated proposal for calculating farm emissions. Planting four trees a year for every cow, for example, would be much simpler.
"It's a good start but a long way to go," Bingham said.
Forest & Bird Northland manager Dean Baigent-Mercer welcomed yesterday's announcement of $145m over four years for large-scale native forest restoration.
Another $111m would be spent on researching carbon storage in native forests and expanded predator control.
"Native forest restoration is a big winner in the Budget but it needs to go hand in hand with pest control, otherwise we're just laying out lunch for possums and goats," Baigent-Mercer said.
In particular, the $7m a year set aside for deer and goat control would have to be greatly expanded to meet the goals of protecting native habitats and natural carbon sinks.
With 80 per cent of New Zealand's almost 800 marae built on low-lying coastal land or near flood-prone rivers, Māori cultural sites are particularly vulnerable to climate change.
That's particularly true for coastal iwi such as Northland's Ngātiwai.
Te Poari o Ngātiwai chairman Aperahama Kerepeti-Edwards welcomed the Government's commitment to combating climate change via the Climate Emergency Response Fund.
"As a coastal iwi we're keen to understand how this fund will be applied to support kāinga [homes], marae and communities who need support to plan their futures, as we know many of our kāinga and hapū will be affected by sea level rises. Planned retreat of affected kāinga is a reality for Te Iwi o Ngātiwai. There are opportunities to work together now," Kerepeti-Edwards said.
Kerepeti-Edwards also wanted clarity on how agriculture would contribute to climate change costs, and how the Crown's climate action plans would give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Northland Regional councillor Amy Macdonald chairs the Joint Climate Change Adaptation Committee, the first group in the country to bring all councils in one region together under the banner of climate change.
She said working with communities on local climate change issues was a big, challenging and costly job.
"It's reassuring to see central government resourcing climate change in this Budget. There's a lot more detail needed before we can say exactly what this means for Northland, but any Government support for reducing emissions in our region will be valuable."
In particular, the commitment to fund a Māori climate action platform was an important step forward, Macdonald said.
"Resourcing Māori to engage in and lead climate change solutions is a huge opportunity that will benefit all New Zealanders, and is crucial here in Te Taitokerau with our high Māori population."
Kerikeri's Rolf Mueller-Glodde, a founder of Carbon Neutral New Zealand, welcomed the Budget's extension of half-price public transport but felt it was "too tame" when it came to tackling climate change.
"It doesn't go far enough but I understand they are also spending a lot on health and social improvement, and they don't want to be seen as too radical," Mueller-Glodde said.
What's in it for the climate?
Much of the Government's strategy for combating climate change is included in the Emissions Reduction Plan released on Monday, four days before the Budget.
The plan is funded not through the Budget but the newly established Climate Emergency Response Fund, with $2.9b so far set aside of the $4.5b to be derived from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
The aim is to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with transport the main focus of Monday's plan.
Climate Change minister James Shaw lauded the plan as "laying the path to a net-zero future".
National leader Christopher Luxon, however, said too much would be spent on working groups and "corporate welfare". The Government was giving industry hundreds of millions of dollars to decarbonise, something he said businesses should be paying for themselves.
Greenpeace, on the other hand, said the plan meant New Zealanders were effectively subsidising the dairy industry - agriculture was not yet paying into the ETS, yet the sector would receive large sums from the scheme for research. (The Government is negotiating separately with agriculture through the He Waka Eke Noa programme. The sector is expected to start paying into the ETS in 2025. That would make NZ farmers the world's first to start paying a price on carbon).
The full Emissions Reduction Plan is a hefty 350 pages but a few of the main points are as follows:
• $1.2b total includes $569m for a "scrap and replace" scheme to help low-income households ditch their old gas-guzzlers and switch to hybrid or electric vehicles with subsidies of up to $10,000. The initial trial would cover 2500 vehicles.
• $350m for improved access to low-emission transport such as walking, cycling and public transport.
• Targets of 30 per cent EVs in the nation's light-vehicle fleet and 20 per cent less car travel by 2035.
• $710m over four years including $339m for speeding up technological solutions, including setting up a Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions.
• $650m over four years to help industry decarbonise, for example by replacing coal-fired boilers.
• Cut freight emissions by 35 per cent by 2035 and enable shipping on key routes.
• Stricter insulation standards to reduce energy needed for heating.
• Encouraging native afforestation to capture carbon and support biodiversity.
• Reduce costs of forest restoration and pest control.
• Protect native vegetation from the effects of climate change.
Extra funding or initiatives announced yesterday as part of the Budget include:
• $256m over four years for large-scale forest planting, research and predator control.
• $31m to set up "a new platform for Maōri climate action that will enable tangata whenua to actively participate in the climate response".
• A two-month extension to half-price public transport plus permanent price reductions for Community Service Card holders.