The PSA welcomes the Climate Change Commission’s advice that workers and unions help design a strategy that ensures the costs of transitioning to a low-emissions Aotearoa are shared fairly.
PSA Eco Network member Alex Johnston says the Commission’s report to Government is significant but more needs to be done faster to ensure New Zealand does its fair share to help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius.
“We need to act urgently and go further than the Commission outlines because of the devastating impact of climate change.
“It affects all of us, we’re seeing the impact already on people in the Solomon Islands affected by sea level rise or people in South Canterbury affected by recent flooding. That’s why it’s on the government to really play its part in stepping up New Zealand’s action.”
The PSA says a just climate change transition is necessary to ensure ordinary working people do not face disproportionate costs, while big polluters avoid their responsibilities.
Reforms to sectors such as transport - while welcome - will not compensate for the scale of pollution in other sectors.
Alex, who is Oxfam Aotearoa’s Climate lead, favours using taxes on agricultural pollution to help farmers transistion to more sustainable practices. Agriculture makes up 48% of New Zealand’s climate pollution, but is not currently priced under the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Alex also supports the goal of providing universal access to public transport as outlined in the PSA’s Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment.
The PSA believes the importance of retaining transport services in public ownership can be seen with the recent threat to Wellington’s public bus services, caused by a private company trying to cut bus drivers’ conditions.
The Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment also advocates for the provision of universal access to income support. Alex says that’s another important step towards ensuring a just transition.
“As some industries are affected, we need to ensure there is adequate income support so people have a safety net that enables them to retrain and find new employment.”
PUBLIC SERVICE ROLE
The PSA supports moves in the public service to switch to sustainable energy suppliers, deploy more electric vehicles, and help staff purchase e-bikes for their daily commute, but more needs to be done to achieve a carbon neutral public service by 2025.
Strong, fully funded public services are an essential component of an effective response, whether to the infrastructural challenges posed by rising sea levels or the impacts of reduced employment in polluting industries.
We also welcome the recommendation that the strategy enables genuine partnership with Māori and includes communities, people with disabilities and young people who may face unintended consequences.
Our home support workers have some of the worst employment conditions in New Zealand, and the PSA is determined to help change that with a Fair Pay Agreement (FPA).