Toilets feature in discussions about the best ways to support transgender communities.
Architects, transgender historians and legal scholars make up Stalled, a United States group formed to fight for more inclusive public bathrooms. However Stalled recognise that, alongside transgender rights, there is a wider social justice issue: the need to create safe, sustainable and inclusive public restrooms for everyone regardless of age, gender, race, religion and disability.
The US is not the only country where one can find architects and others promoting inclusive toilets. In Japan there is a project to design what they call "everybody's toilets".
These projects do not mention climate change. But in New Zealand it is easy to find examples of where those who use low carbon forms of travel do not have the same access to safe, sustainable and inclusive restrooms as those who use higher emission forms of travel.
When compared with flights or driving, the coaches linking New Zealand's cities and towns are a very low carbon means of travel. But the toilet facilities at Auckland's centrally located long distance coach depot, at SkyCity, fall well short of being inclusive.
There are no parenting facilities. With no unisex bathroom how does a father take a young daughter to the toilet? And which door (bearing depictions of a man and of a woman) do transgender people enter? The heavily graffiti-ed toilets will also put many people off. Not the sort of facilities travellers would expect or accept at the airport.
The poor state of New Zealand's busiest long distance coach depot has been highlighted by public transport campaigners for many years. Letters have been written to the Auckland mayor, local MPs, the media, InterCity, the landlord and many others. But nothing changes.
This downtown Auckland depot sits in the heart of Green MP Chloe Swarbrick's parliamentary seat.
Given the Green Party's commitment to advancing gender inclusiveness and combating climate change, finding a way to bring together all relevant groups to upgrade these facilities to the standard offered at Auckland airport would seem a worthy project for this energetic MP.
The problem of poor toilets extends beyond Auckland.
Just published is a book Kiwi-As Toilets which depicts some of New Zealand's most iconic public toilets. Many have great artworks or lovely locations. But how inclusive are many of these facilities?
Take, for example, Taupo, an important destination as well as a major long distance coach interchange. The central public toilets on Tongariro St feature in the book. They have an eye-catching painting of the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. The toilets are used by coach passengers when transferring between services or when there is a refreshment break. But, like the Auckland depot, they lack unisex facilities, a parents' room and drinking water.
However, it gets worse. While car drivers can park directly outside, the coach stops at least 150m away, meaning a 300m round walk for passengers. This is a real challenge for the elderly, the disabled, and families with young children. It is especially difficult if it is raining or, on occasion, snowing. And if they get there in the often short time allocated for the stop they face tired, unheated toilets.
In contrast, the Taupo District Council look after their air travellers collecting money from ratepayers and taxpayers to upgrade their airport.
Taupo District Council recently published its draft sustainable transport plan. There is talk of creating a more sustainable transport system. But, in relation to upgrading the important long-distance coach stop, including the toilets, it states "[o]perators and users appear unwilling to pay for new or improved facilities. It is unclear if there are wider benefits to Taupō or the district from an improved coach hub that justify a large investment."
Fortunately, there are some good examples of local authorities that support long distance coach travel. For example, the much smaller tourist town of Franz Josef has excellent, inclusive, facilities.
Given our now officially declared climate emergency, it is not acceptable that businesses, councils and taxpayers favour air travellers and discriminate against individuals who use a very low emission form of transport.
Exacerbating the problem, New Zealand long distance coach operators, notably the dominant InterCity group, do not provide on-board toilet on most coaches, thus increasing the discrimination and discomfort faced by coach passengers.
This is in contrast to long distance coaches in comparable countries such as Australia, the USA, the United Kingdom, and Norway. In many of these countries coach operators have a legal obligation to provide on-board toilets.
The provision of high quality, inclusive, public toilets should be a basic human right.
Toilet design should accommodate a diversity of parenting arrangements and ensure accessibility regardless of age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and disability. In a climate emergency, the provision of good quality toilets should also support those choosing to use low emission forms of transport.
Despite the existence of some aesthetically pleasing toilets in New Zealand, we are failing badly on providing inclusive facilities.
• Dr Paul Callister is an economist whose research focuses on practical solutions for decarbonising the economy.