Clean Power Payment - James Shaw Speech

One of the great privileges of my job is that I get to travel around the country meeting people from all walks of life.

One of the great privileges of my job is that I get to travel around the country meeting people from all walks of life.

In these conversations, one of the questions I get asked more than any other is this: what can I do, in my life and in my home, to make a difference? 

Because the climate crisis is so overwhelming in its scale and complexity, it’s near impossible for any one person, or any one family, to know what they can do, at home, to help turn it around.   

Everywhere you look in the world, climate extremes are reaching new levels.

We see it most recently - and most tragically - in the wildlifes in Hawai’i. 

We’ve seen it in mega-floods in Pakistan, in China, in South Korea. 

Italy, France, Greece and Spain have been sweltering. 

A string of record-shattering hottest days was soon followed by confirmation from climate scientists that July was the hottest July ever recorded.

Wildfires in Canada have blanketed cities across the United States in smoke. 

Here in Aotearoa, we have experienced first-hand some of the most devastating impacts of climate change.

The climate crisis is no longer something that’s happening to someone else, somewhere else, at some point in the future.

It’s happening to us. It’s happening here. And it’s happening now.

The world is being called into action by the fires, floods, droughts and storms that are occurring every single day.

At the last possible moment when there is still time to make a difference.

***

But this is not going to be a speech about the crisis unfolding around the world. 

It’s not going to be about the dire warnings governments largely ignored for three decades.

Nor the political power of the fossil fuel industry that has engineered the crisis we face. 

You can read about that in the papers, any day of the week. 

Rather, today is going to be about how we can work together to meet the crisis head on, with the urgency it demands, and in a way that makes our lives better. 

Today is about turning the crisis into something else, something better; a future where everyone has a warm home, powered by the sun, and with more money in your pocket.

Today is about what climate action looks like when we see it as an opportunity to build a better future for our children and grandchildren. 

And as a chance to make our own lives better, today. 

To rethink the homes we live in and to build stronger communities.

To change how we power our homes, so they are healthy and warm. 

And so that we pay less on our bills. 

***

Right now, the struggle to put food on the table, and to pay the bills, is the concern that rises above all others, for so many people across Aotearoa.

Inflation has stretched household budgets to breaking point. 

Food, rent, mortgage repayments, power bills. 

Thousands of kids are going without enough to eat, a good bed, warm clothes, and decent shoes. 

Parents all over the country are being forced to cut back on food to pay the bills. 

I have said before that any party that stops short of promising to lift every family out of poverty, is by definition choosing to make life harder for people.

But actually, it goes much deeper than that. 

In the absence of any plan to make sure everyone has enough to get by, other political parties are also constraining our ability to respond to the climate crisis. 

Last month, the Green Party announced our Income Guarantee. 

It is a simple and achievable promise that everyone will always have enough to cover life’s essentials - even when times are tough. 

But there’s more to it than that.

Most people would love to insulate their homes or put solar panels on their roof. 

But if their kids aren’t getting enough to eat, they are going to want to deal with that first. 

And fair enough.

So an inclusive society, where everyone has enough to put food on the table, and a safe place to call home and to live a good life, is a necessary precondition for the transition to a low carbon future. 

***

The journey to net zero is one we must take together. 

There is no single solution to the climate crisis.

There will never be a moment when we can say we have done all we need to do, that we have won.

It will take changes, both big and small, that together add up to a cleaner, greener, safer future.

I have always said that if we don't take everyone with us and come up with solutions that benefit everyone, then we will have failed. 

That does not mean we carry on as normal while we wait for the perfect answer. 

It does mean taking advantage of the solutions available to us right now. 

Over the last couple of decades, there has been a revolution in renewable energy. 

It is now more efficient than ever, and prices have dropped dramatically.

Batteries have also plummeted in price, so we can store energy to use later.

Together with measures to save energy, harnessing the power of the sun is the single cheapest way to slash emissions and save people money on their power bills.

The only obstacle in front of us is political. 

There is no doubt that we need to leave the age of fossil fuels behind, quickly and decisively. 

But what drives our machines won’t change until we change what drives our government. 

***

Over the last six years in government, the Green Party has changed the game for climate action in Aotearoa. 

From putting climate targets into law, to ending the use of coal to heat our schools and hospitals, to - finally - putting nature at the heart of our climate response. 

Last year I ushered in the country’s first ever, comprehensive, all-of-government, Emissions Reduction Plan.

It is a blueprint for a zero-carbon Aotearoa.

With well-paying jobs doing meaningful work, upgrading the country to run on clean energy, with better infrastructure, and to restore our native wildernesses and wildlife. 

But it is still only one step of the many that we need to take. 

Even with everything we have done, we are still a long way from where we need to be.

And the reason for that is a majority government that has had other priorities.

***

The next government, which you will elect in October, will need to update our climate plan next year.

The decisions about what goes into that plan will determine climate action in Aotearoa for the remainder of this decade.

National’s and ACT’s plan to keep us hooked on fossil fuels, for as long as possible, is a recipe for higher bills and worsening climate disaster. 

It is as irresponsible as it is ignorant, as it is downright dangerous. 

The world’s scientists were warning a few weeks ago that the “era of global boiling” has arrived.

The independent experts at the Climate Change Commission are telling us that delaying action will significantly increase costs, and that acting now is the economic and morally obvious choice. 

And yet Christopher Luxon still couldn’t bring himself this week to commit to ending coal use in Aotearoa.

And the ACT party want to repeal the Zero Carbon Act, disestablish the Climate Change Commission and set us back thirty years.

I’m proud that, as a result of the work we have done in Government over the last six years, we finally have a robust price on carbon emissions. 

Polluters are paying and the Government has a tremendous opportunity to reinvest this where it will help the most - both to cut emissions and to help everyone live a good life. 

***

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the only way to get the speed and scale of action we need is to make sure the plan is led by a Green Minister of Climate Change.

One who is supported around the Cabinet table with more Green Ministers pushing for bold climate action in their own portfolios and across the Government.

I am under no illusion about the challenge in front of us. 

There are thousands of people across Aotearoa who are living in poverty.

Kids are going to work, instead of school, to help their families get by.

Our homes are notoriously cold and draughty.

And we’ve got just two and half decades to get to net zero. 

But what if I told you we can solve all of these challenges together;

That some of the quickest, cheapest and most effective solutions can be found right there in our homes;

And that with a strong Green voice, we can get started on day one of the next government?

***

Think about the things we use every day - our stoves and kitchen appliances, hot water heaters, or room heaters.

For many of us, some or all of those things still run on fossil gas. 

And every single one of them can be replaced by something that is both cheaper and cleaner. 

However, while the price of things like heat pumps and solar have tumbled over the last decade, the challenge for most of us is to cover the upfront cost. 

We know they will save you money in the long run.

But most of us don’t have a spare few thousand dollars sitting around to pay for them. 

So, today, I am delighted to announce the Green Party’s Clean Power Payment. 

The Clean Power Payment will provide up to thirty-six thousand dollars in grants and loans to help you cover the cost of upgrading your home to run on clean energy and save you money each month on your power bills.  

Every dollar we need to pay for it will come from our biggest polluters.  

Instead of leaving families to waste money on cold, draughty homes, as successive governments have done, the Clean Power Payment will support you to upgrade your home so it are healthy and warm.

It could save you around seven hundred dollars on your energy bill, every single year. 

What we are announcing today will slash emissions and your power bills - and create thousands of skilled jobs across the country. 

It is a plan to tackle the climate crisis and the cost of living crisis at the same time and at the scale that those challenges require.

And here’s how it will work. 

***

If you own your own home, you’ll be able to get up to thirty six thousand dollars to cover the cost of zero carbon home upgrades, such as rooftop solar, heat pumps, and better insulation.

Up to six thousand dollars of this will be available as a direct grant for 25% of the cost of upgrades, so you don’t have to pay it back. 

The rest will be available through a ten year interest-free loan that will be tied to your property and paid back through rates.

***

Accessing the Clean Power Payment will be made incredibly easy. 

Jump online, put your details into a website, and you’ll be given a list of accredited local suppliers to choose from. 

That’s it.

We will also scale up the payment over three years, with an initial focus on low-income households, so we make sure we get help where it is needed the most.

Together with the Income Guarantee, this will mean you have more to cover your weekly groceries, to buy the kids a new winter jacket, or pay the rent.  

The Clean Power Payment is as close to a perfect investment as you can get: slashing soaring bills for families, slashing emissions, and creating thousands of good jobs. 

***

We will also make it much easier for the one-point-four million people who are living in rental homes to get the benefits of cleaner power and lower bills, at no extra cost to you or your family.  

Right now, people who rent in Aotearoa spend more of their income on older, colder and mouldier housing than those who own. 

That is a political choice. 

This election, the Green Party is choosing to prioritise and guarantee warm, dry homes for all.

A few weeks ago we announced our Pledge to Renters.

A promise that in the first 100 days of a new government, we will introduce legislation to make sure everyone who rents always has a safe, healthy, and affordable and accessible place to call home.

A key element of this is the Rental Warrant of Fitness, which would require homes to be certified warm and dry. 

Today, we go a step further. 

Landlords who go beyond the minimum regulated standard set by the Rental Warrant of Fitness, and upgrade a rental home to run on clean energy, will be able to deduct the cost from their overall tax bill, up to a maximum of eighteen thousand dollars and two properties.  

***

For decades, those who have resisted change have persuaded us to focus on ourselves, on our individual carbon footprints, rather than on broader, systemic change. 

They do this because they know that individualising a global challenge slows down the response. 

But we also know that the individual actions that we can take, can make a difference. 

You only need to look at the success of the Clean Car Discount to see that.

Three years ago, one in one hundred new cars sold in this country was an EV.

In the month of June it was one in two.

So the next time someone asks, “what can I do, in my life and in my home, to make a difference?”, we have an answer. 

The Clean Power Payment is a collective response to the challenge of climate change that will improve our lives and the places we live.

Under our plan, thousands of homes will be warmed by a heat pump connected to solar panels on the roof and a battery in the garage.

Your morning shower will be heated by electricity instead of gas.

Old polluting gas burners will give way to electric ovens and stovetops. 

The reality is, all of these electric devices are better than the things many of us are using today. 

If you electrify your kitchen, you're also not breathing in nitrogen dioxide that gives your kids and yourself asthma and bronchitis.

And it also lowers the cost of cooking. 

If you electrify the heating systems in your home there are similar health and money saving benefits.

Homes will also be better insulated, keeping the warm air inside, instead of paying for it to leak out through your windows and your walls. 

Taken together, the Clean Power Payment will save you hundreds of dollars on your energy bills every year.

And it will also make all of us part of a nationwide effort to build a low carbon future for our children and grandchildren. 

***

Over the next thirty years, as more of us electrify our homes and our cars, it is estimated that we will need around one hundred and seventy percent of the electricity we use today. 

Think about that.

It has taken nearly a hundred years to build the generation capacity we’ve currently got. 

And we’re going to need two-thirds of that again, on top, in just the next twenty to thirty years.

And none of it can come from fossil fuels. 

All of it will be new renewable electricity generation. 

One of the most efficient ways to meet this demand is through rooftop solar. 

An electric car charged by rooftop solar costs only about $8 a week to run.

Compare that to $62 a week in petrol. 

Over time, the ever growing number of solar panels and batteries from the Clean Power Payment will act as a vast, national battery, smoothing out the demand curves when the sun clouds over. 

If we can get rooftop solar onto thirty percent of homes in New Zealand, then we will be generating as much power from our roofs as the Huntly Power station.

And every single watt of that solar generation will be entirely emissions free.

And if every home that currently uses gas switches over to electricity, that will cut emissions equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road.  

Aotearoa can be the first country in the world to switch entirely from coal and gas to sun, water, and wind.

This plan will be a crucial part of the shift. 

***

At a time when people are struggling to make ends meet, when we are in the midst of a climate crisis, the Clean Power Payment will slash carbon emissions and slash household energy bills by hundreds of dollars every single year. 

Under our plan, Aotearoa will see one of the biggest upgrades of our homes for decades.

A plan to install heat pumps and solar power, improve insulation, and swap out every fossil fuel device, so our homes become fully electric. 

We know how to make homes safe, healthy, affordable, and warm. 

What’s so far been missing is the political willpower to do it. 

If we are to build on the progress we have made and face the climate crisis in a way that makes our lives better and saves people money, the only way – the only way – to do it…

…Is to have more Green MPs in the next Parliament and more Green Ministers in the next Government.

We choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because we cannot sit by and listen to excuses.

There are no excuses now.

No time for half-measures.

No room for marginal improvements.

This is it.

The time is now.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. 

Latest Climate Change Announcements

Story

Govt slams on the brakes of climate action

The scrapping of the Clean Car Discount is an act of climate vandalism - and the Green Party is calling on the Government to release all the advice...
Read More

Story

Luxon’s free pass to the fossil fuel industry needs to be stopped

Chris Luxon is giving big oil and gas corporations a free pass at a time when countries all over the world agree to transition away from fossil fuels.
Read More

Story

Greens launch petition to save oil and gas ban

The Green Party has launched a petition to save the ban on oil and gas exploration.
Read More

Story

Green voice crucial for climate action

The Green Party is today welcoming Labour’s climate manifesto, but is clear that much more will need to be done to tackle the climate crisis.
Read More

Story

Climate future of communities on the line this election

Green Party co leader James Shaw attended a South Dunedin Future street meeting today to discuss local responses to climate change.
Read More

Story

National’s climate pledge a joke

Today’s pledge from the National Party to deliver net zero carbon by 2050 is a bad-faith, disingenuous, and empty promise.
Read More