Last week's Budget 2022 was touted by the Government as an unprecedented commitment to climate change. But how did it stack up in the eyes of those who will be most affected? Springbank School students Ronan Leung, 12, of Waimate North, and Evie Trotter, 13, of Russell, spent Budget night poring over the Government's announcements, then wrote their own analysis to share with classmates and readers of the Northern Advocate. If Ronan and Evie are anything to go by, New Zealand's future is in good hands.
Student opinion on the way climate change is addressed in Budget 2022
This is our response to the Government's budget as it relates to the problem that has been ignored by generation after generation, and now looms over all of our heads: the impending disaster of climate change.
We watched the unveiling of the Government's plan to combat climate change, which many may think is flawless. Although we are happy the crisis of our changing climate is finally being prioritised, through our young eyes, we can see a few faults.
With just under three-quarters of the world being covered in water, it is hard to ignore the big blue spot on our planet, yet Budget 2022 has, as far as we can tell.
A recent news report interviewed scientists working for the Department of Conservation (DoC) in Fiordland. The high sea temperatures caused by climate change bleached and may have killed the native brown sea sponge, an extremely important organism for the health and wellbeing of our moana. Without this species - or any species - present in our oceans, we will see the effects caused by its absence.
This is an alarming warning for our island nation that should be a call for action to happen immediately. What is the Government's solution? Where is the budget to protect our oceans?
Budget 2022 has forgotten not just the preservation of marine life, but the huge problem of water pollution. This has been an ongoing issue that not just New Zealand is facing but the entire world.
All of this isn't just taking a toll on the sea, but it will have an impact on us. Fish devour the plastic, we eat the fish, which contains plastic. The plastic we put into our oceans eventually will come back to haunt us.
So, we ask the Government to look out for our oceans as they play a significant role in our world's health, and consider adding money into the next Budget to rescue our seas.
One of the major topics in Budget 2022 is to switch from gas-guzzlers to hybrid and EV vehicles. The Government promises a plan called the scrap-and-replace scheme, which will help low-income families transition into greener, cleaner vehicles.
This is a fantastic initiative, and we hope it will go further to include college and university-aged students who are going to need vehicles. If an older car is necessary to receive Government support for an EV or hybrid vehicle, how will students who need their first car be able to join the scheme?
House and rent prices are rising alongside the ever-growing cost of groceries. With all of these price increases, buying a fresh green, clean car will be a massive struggle, at a cost that the majority of students won't be able to afford.
If the solution is for them to have environmentally-friendly cars, they will be unable to do what this generation has done - get a hand-me-down from their parents - because those cars will be petrol or diesel. This applies to the generation going into university now. We're really hoping it won't affect future generations as much.
The current members of the Government will not be in charge when it is 2050, but the current students at our schools will. So, what is the plan for teaching kids about climate change when they are young? How will we make sure that they are both aware of, and passionate about solving, our climate crisis? It's a crisis that they will have to deal with when they are older. How is the Government informing us? Where are they providing their plan for us? We are the future that everyone says they are counting on - where is our road map?
Climate change should be taught about in school. In fact, it should be essential for all schools to include it in their curriculum. After all, it is the most pressing matter of the century, isn't it? If we have no planet to live on, none of the other problems will matter. Students must be aware of what they will be up against in the future.
The Government should provide a website made just for kids with understandable wording and diagrams so children can understand climate change better. If more children knew about the dangers of climate change, they would start advocating for the adults in their lives to do better, and start acting on it themselves, when they are younger. Progress will be made, little by little, hopefully in time.
Budget 2022 promises to get New Zealand to zero carbon by 2050. By then most students in middle school will be in their late 30s to early 40s. It will be up to us to look after the world then. But in the meantime, we see a major flaw in the plan: there is only one plan. What if the plan fails? What is the backup plan?
The people who are running the Government now will not be running it then, we will be. If the policy proposed in Budget 2022 crumbles, it will be too late for us to fix it. Scientists have already said that we must act right now or else our world - and those of us who live here - will die. So, if Budget 2022 falls through and there is no backup, it will be too late to save our planet.
Unless the Government is keeping a 'Plan B' in their back pockets that we don't know about, a smart move would be to think of one and figure out how to put it in place if Budget 2022's climate plan does not work out.
Climate change is one of the biggest issues the modern world is facing. With many countries ignoring climate change, New Zealand has acted, and that makes us proud. Although the plan has some flaws, it is better than sitting and doing nothing, watching our world turn into an inferno in front of our eyes.
The Government has done a fantastic job by at least starting to address climate change, but they are still missing some key issues. Overall, we are grateful and inspired that the New Zealand Government is beginning to take action and has finally begun to think about tamariki and our future.