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Greenpeace’s Green Covid Response

Written By: - Date published: 10:34 am, April 12th, 2020 - 77 comments
Categories: climate change, covid-19, Environment - Tags: , , , ,

A press release from Greenpeace NZ on the last of the oil giants to leave NZ,

Austrian oil giant OMV has announced that it’s indefinitely postponing its last remaining oil and gas exploration plans in the Taranaki Basin.

Greenpeace is claiming “a win of generational significance” that signals an end to offshore oil exploration in New Zealand.

This one is easier than other examples of how covid brings an opportunity to make the changes that we’ve been desperately needing to make. An end to oil exploration has been high on the activist agenda for a while, because it makes our immediate environment safer, but also because it opens the door for NZ to transition to a post-carbon society.

If we are saying no more oil, then it’s on us to walk our talk and reduce our dependence on oil imports now. We can’t really say no oil exploration here but we’re ok with other countries taking the risks.

So how can we do this?

Greenpeace again, pointing out that we can make fast change and adapt when we have to,

“Now is the time to reimagine and rebuild the world we want so that when we come out the other end of this crisis, we are living in a more resilient Aotearoa. This starts with a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, and towards a society powered by clean, renewable energy.”

In light of the Government’s post-Covid economic recovery plan, Greenpeace has produced a Green Covid Response package and presented it to Government Ministers.

We can sign the petition to government here.

From the Green Covid Response,

We currently face three simultaneous crises in Aotearoa New Zealand: the Covid-19 pandemic and an associated economic downturn, rising inequality, and a worsening climate and ecological crisis. As the Government turns its attention towards the long-term project of economic recovery, we urge you to plan a response that protects us from the impacts of climate change and lifts up workers and vulnerable communities.

Greenpeace talks about the unprecedented opportunity to prevent catastrophic climate change, make New Zealand more resilient to extreme weather events, and transition society to a regenerative model for ecological,  and social/economic well being.

In this paper, we outline a collection of solutions that fall under the banner of a “green stimulus”, providing jobs and boosting economic activity whilst fast-tracking much-needed projects to restore the natural world we depend on. These include:

Immediate shovel-ready projects to prioritise

  1. Providing finance and support for home insulation and heat pumps.
  2. Fast-tracking fencing and planting of on-farm waterways with Government finance.
  3. Attaching strict, science-aligned decarbonisation, biodiversity enhancement and workers’ rights conditions to corporate bailouts.
  4. Introducing a Universal Basic Income.

Priority investments for the long-term wellbeing of Aotearoa

  1. Unprecedented investment in public transport, cycling and rail infrastructure to accelerate our mobility into the 21st century.
  2. Billions in finance for distributed solar and wind, alongside upgrades to the power grid.
  3. A billion-dollar regenerative farming fund to support farmers to transition to regenerative agriculture.
  4. A sizable boost in finance for DOC to employ a “conservation corps” of people to eradicate pests, plant native trees and restore critical habitats.
  5. Constructing new, affordable homes that meet the highest energy-efficiency standards.
  6. Put millions into ocean restoration projects to restore critical marine ecosystems

Good stuff. Full details of the Green Covid Response and petition to sign are here.

To which I would add a few things from further out on the regen/sustainability/resiliency edge,

  1. In addition to heat pumps, for the colder parts of the country, push NZ to up its game on ultra efficient wood stoves, alongside regenerative forestry that provides firewood and creates a net carbon sink. This is zero carbon space, water and cooking heating.
  2. I’m not yet convinced fast-tracking a UBI is better than mending welfare, or that a NZ UBI is in fact shovel ready. I’m open to it, but I’m not yet seeing the convincing arguments beyond the surface appeal. My concern is that doing a UBI too fast will give us a system that isn’t tory-proof and doesn’t centre the most vulnerable people in NZ. I’m still not seeing emerging models of how to do a UBI in  NZ in a useful way. Hope that happens soon.
  3. Do a stocktake of housing in NZ, and look first at extensive, sustainably designed, retrofitting of existing housing to make it healthy and energy efficient (this is beyond simply insulating).
  4. Regulate the building industry to make owner/builder housing more accessible and affordable. Create interim regulations to allow people to live in mobile tiny homes. Look at currently unused housing, and rentals about to be put on the market that the government could buy. I suspect we need to build less houses than most are thinking. Building new homes needs to be done along side industry reform to urgently address the ecological, environmental and climate damage being done.
  5. As part of the incentives to farmers to transition to regenag, put the support into developing localised food supply chains.

Greenpeace ends by acknowledging they don’t have all the answers and encouraging the bringing of all good ideas to the table. So have at it Standardistas. Check out the Green Covid Response, pick out your areas of interest and bring your good ideas to the table.

77 comments on “Greenpeace’s Green Covid Response ”

  1. Dean Reynolds 1

    Let's hope that Greenpeace's initiatives will give the Green Party a kick up the arse & get them enthusiastically supporting Greenpeace's program

    • weka 1.1

      Perhaps you could explain your thinking there Dean, because as far as I can see the Greens and Greenpeace have similar positions on these things.

      • Pete George 1.1.1

        The Green Party has been quite quiet lately. Nothing on anything like this on their website or on their Facebook or Twitter feeds that I can see.

        James Shaw was interviewed on NZ Q+A this morning but nothing stood out (I admit I didn't take much notice of what he said) and I can't see any new item on him yet (an item on Chris Hipkins was quick from 1 News and NZ Herald).

        Is Greenpeace effectively operating as an activist arm of the Green Party?

        • weka

          Both Greenpeace and the Green Party are part of the green movement.

          There's nothing particularly surprising about the Greenpeace proposal from a sustainability pov. You can easily match it to Green Party policy (on their website).

          I'm sure the GP's low public presence is due to be being busy dealing with the pandemic crisis.

          • Pete George

            That may be the case for Shaw and Genter and perhaps Sage. But what about the backbench Green MPs? Hughes seemed to lose interest some time ago. The others are probably not so motivated by green issues?

            • weka

              Hughes is leaving parliament this year.

              Read the post Pete. The green movement doesn't separate environmental from social/economic issues. Saying the other MPs are not motivated by green issues is a nonsense from a green perspective.

            • KJT

              Just like any party, individual MP's are given specific areas to concentrate on.

              With your, intensive, knowledge of NZ politics, I thought you would know that.

      • Dean Reynolds 1.1.2

        Weka, as a Green Party member I've been concerned for some time that the Greens are stuck on 5% (or less) in the polls & have lost focus. When Russell Norman was the GP leader, he strategically decided that the GP would only achieve cut thru if they narrowed their focus down to 2 key themes – climate change & eliminating poverty in NZ. As they changed public opinion in their favour, the GP rose in the polls, but since Russell's departure, they've struggled to find focus & their polling has dropped.

        The best thing the GP can do is to enthusiastically endorse Greenpeace's comprehensive program & adopt it as their manifesto for this year's election. The GP, with these sorts of policies, could be polling at 15% – imagine what that would do for the combined strength of NZ's Left?

        • weka

          The GP did poll high for a long time after Norman left. Their popularity only dropped after the fall out from Turei's speech and the rise of Ardern at the last election.

          They were in the process of stepping up on green differentiation from Labour when the pandemic hit. I'm expecting them to resume that but there's a timing issue here around electioneering and the lockdown/crisis. I also think it's hard to get MSM coverage for non-covid things right now.

          So, the GP should be more visible, I'm more interested in the how. They're a small party, they still have their various Ministerial responsibilities (more than normal presumably because of covid). I don't know what the solution is for them, because the left is likely to once again adore Ardern and not put their money where their mouth is when it comes to the environment, climate or social justice. I find it really frustrating too, but I'm not sure I blame the Greens for this. NZ has long resisted giving the Greens power and it's disappointing to see lefties still doing that.

        • Incognito

          A loss of focus combined with a lack of a clear point of/for differentiation between the Green Party and Government/Labour?

          I also wonder if the Green’s idealism has been tempered by/with political realism by virtue of being in Government for the first time.

          • weka

            I think so. It's not like they have all this time to be putting out press releases and doing tours of the country.

            Otoh, I have seen pointed criticism about their social media management.

            • Incognito

              I have to admit that I don’t follow the Greens on SM and therefore I can’t comment on that.

              • KJT

                The MP's are followed around on face book by a bunch of right wing nutters, that are so consistent in their comments, I'm almost certain they are paid sock puppets.

                • Incognito

                  Does FB have effective blocking tools? Or ways to delete crappy stuff? Surely, people have some control as to what appears and stays on their FB page?

                  • KJT

                    They do. But MP's blocking people, no matter how daft, they are, doesn't look good.

                    Chloe and Co tend to reply patiently and nicely. But they are much nicer people, than me.

                    I’ve been blocked by National MP’s though.

                    • Incognito

                      True that, leave it to an emotional junior staffer to do the deleting 😉

                      If there’s a way to moderate (or should I say quarantine) before it appears then any deleting won’t be so obvious. Zoom has the so-called Waiting Room and although it’s not the same as FB, the same principle could be used there too.

                      There comes a point at which it is clear that replying is pointless and a waste of time.

                      Heh, I’m almost inclined to ask what your crime was because National has a pretty high threshold for all things pretty legal.

                    • KJT []

                      Making a National MP, look like a fool on climate change, pointing out the obvious contradictory statements, was one.

                      The latest one was a picture comparing Simons bubble to David Clarks. LOL. I expected that one though.

                    • Incognito []


                      That’s pretty thin-skinned to block you for, I’d say.

                    • Carolyn_Nth

                      On FB, it's possible to hide comments, so the poster can still see it, and the FB manager, but the public can't.

        • KJT

          If you have a look at Greens existing policies, they are not that far apart from the above.

          The party is looking at covid specific policies', but the Green party, unlike others, doesn't work on Dictatorship from the top.

  2. Forget now 2

    "Shovel ready"? Does that mean; ready for implementation? How did that turn of phrase come about?

    I can only visualise corpses rotting in a hall next to a full cemetery as being "shovel ready". But I am sure that's not what they are going for. A big heap of gravel doesn't make much sense either.

    • weka 2.1

      It's the projects that could be acted upon now. It's a common enough phrase and many have been using it in their pandemic response. I think it's self-explanatory, but there's a tighter definition here,

      The New Zealand Government is working with the construction sector to identify large infrastructure ‘shovel ready’ projects to kick-start the economy.

      ‘Shovel ready’ is defined as being ready for construction to commence within 180 days of the Lockdown being lifted.


      • RosieLee 2.1.1

        It may well be a common enough phrase, but it's also a silly piece of jargon which adds nothing to the clarity of the debate whatever the issue is. If I see it again I'll scream.

  3. Carolyn_Nth 3

    Some are predicting that many "mum and dad" landlords will be selling up after lock down.

    I suspect that many of those rentals will not be in the greatest state of repair. Not sure whether those are the homes that should be bought up for state housing?

  4. Ad 4

    Minister Genter has this morning announced that footpath widening to enable social distancing will be a high priority. So she's ahead of Greenpeace there.

    The system is already well advanced on public transport projects. The big public transport projects needing shovels, are already in construction or in procurement. They include: AMETI next stage, Hamilton-Auckland commuter line and double tracking and electrification, and of course City Rail Link. Also the Palmerston-Wellington upgrade. A reasonable question is whether public transport will ever recover its growth? (Personally I think social distancing is best cured from working at home where possible).

    The Conservation Corps is a no-brainer and Minister Jones is already repurposing the forestry teams already.

    Since the Green Party desperately needs some airtime in any media, all the MPs and members should pop down to Mackenzie country and the Remarkables and have a crack at the wilding pines. They're not going to get back to Parliament in September if they keep so deep under the radar.

    That would be good to see Greenpeace members doing something useful besides complaining as well,

    • bwaghorn 4.1

      Footpath widening !! Your fucking joking surely.

      How about the think of proper problems like how public transport is going to operate social distancing

      • weka 4.1.1

        people need safe transport right now. Popup bike lanes can be done immediately. Putting in a new train or bus service takes much more time (but you know they're working on that too).

      • Ad 4.1.2

        Footpaths is a good one – people are finally using them.

        The safest and best social distancing to do in the meantime if you have to commute is, of course, to take your car. That's that thing most of us do already where you get to be by yourself and enjoy life unconstrained by other people.

      • Patricia 2 4.1.3

        Some footpaths in Auckland CBD are done already ; ready to bet they won't be unwidened any time soon. Main streets only one lane each way now.

      • Graeme 4.1.4

        Footpath provision and widening was a big part of Muldoons PEP schemes to mop up unemployed in the late 70's. A lot of those paths are the basis of today's cycleways.

        Could put Key’s cycleway project into the same category. That’s been a huge success around Queenstown for commuting and recreation.

    • Oddly though nothing will be done until we drop from Level 4 – in other words, extend footpaths and cycle lanes when people take to their cars again to get back to shopping and work.

      Automobubbles will be safer virus-wise than public transport.

      Not sure many local bodies will see it as a priority.

      • Ad 4.2.1

        All local bodies in New Zealand view roading as a priority and it's where they put most of their money.

        The only exception to that at the moment is Auckland. And a little bit of WRC.

        • Pete George

          Most local body money does go into roads because a huge majority of people usually use the roads.

          However Dunedin is putting quite a bit into cycle paths and they keep removing car parks from around the CBD, which pleases some and annoys others.

          Increasingly people don't shop in Dunedin's CBD due to congestion and lack of parking.

          • Ad

            I'm not sure what the Dunedin Council contribution is to the cycleways as they are almost all on state highways – and hence NZTA projects.

            The project at risk is the George Street rebuild which would turn it into a single lane. That petition going around is going to carry some weight when so many "Out Of Business" signs go up.

            I see the surrounding settlements getting hit harder than George Street. Portobello, Waitati, St Clair, Maori Hill, bits of South Dunedin – so many restaurants and cafes will die. Actually the place that I see as really at risk is Port Chalmers. No cruise ships, no one going to go out to cafes. Potentially George Street and the Princes Street bulk retail shops could do really well out of all those closures.

            And most thankfully, Dunedin is one of the only cities in New Zealand which still has a strong functioning main street where the life isn't being actively drained out of it by malls.

            • Pete George

              A lot of the cruise ship business is in Dunedin's CBD, so that will be hit hard by what's likely to be a big drop in visits.

  5. Sabine 5

    and this has nothing to do with the fact that oil at the moment has no buyers?


  6. Bazza64 6

    Good luck for Greenpeace trying to bring in a UBI when we will have to deal with the debt taxpayers have incurred to cover the Covid 19 shutdown.

    Thats a bit like telling a millennial “winner” who has maxed out their credit card not to worry about the debt, let’s go buy something and put it on afterpay.

    • pat 6.1

      "Good luck for Greenpeace trying to bring in a UBI when we will have to deal with the debt taxpayers have incurred to cover the Covid 19 shutdow(n)"

      the gov debt since covid isnt the main problem….but the debt thats fueled the economy these past decades is….one way or another it will be defaulted

    • KJT 6.2

      Because "Austerity" to get out of a recession, works so well. Eh?

  7. RedLogix 7

    All interesting and worthwhile initiatives. Without quibbling for the sake of it, I'd be inclined to consider the international perspective associated with them. Here's my quick take:

    Unprecedented investment in public transport, cycling and rail infrastructure to accelerate our mobility into the 21st century.

    Once NZ eradicates CV19 (and I'm sure we will) public transport will return with a rush. But PT alone is not the whole story, we need to address the critical vulnerability we have to imported oil. The current oil price war is going to end badly, Saudi will crush their OPEC competitors and combined with an almost certain conflict and disruption in the ME, the price and supply of refined products is going to be very uncertain.

    Aus/NZ/Singapore should be thinking about a combined project to build a 100% locally sourced EV project and accelerate the replacement of the ICE fleet as rapidly as possible. While not quite a shovel ready project, it's one that's well within our capacity.

    Billions in finance for distributed solar and wind, alongside upgrades to the power grid.

    While from a global perspective renewables have some serious limitations, Australia and NZ are remarkably fortunate in our solar and wind power potential. But we are going to need to think through exactly where we are going to get the equipment from and the security of the supply chains.

    A billion-dollar regenerative farming fund to support farmers to transition to regenerative agriculture.

    The big carrot for farmers would be the opportunity to access state backed, low interest mortgage finance linked to transition support AND market development. So much of our farming practice at present is constrained by the bloody mortgage … get that off the farmers backs and focus on improving their margin and cash flow, and everything will change.

    A sizable boost in finance for DOC to employ a “conservation corps” of people to eradicate pests, plant native trees and restore critical habitats.

    Good idea in principle, but I'd be very keen to see it linked to a strong educational program for the participants. Just using otherwise idle backs to grub weeds is a dead end.

    Constructing new, affordable homes that meet the highest energy-efficiency standards.

    Major can of worms. I have a low opinion of the NZ building industry, low innovation, low trust and poor value on the whole. Essentially I'd be looking to demolish the bottom 30% of our housing stock and start from scratch. But finding an organic process to get to an outcome that we can be proud as a society, is a daunting challenge. A very focused industry educational process would have to happen first, drawing on successful models that have worked globally. We need a coherent vision of what we want before we charge into digging dirt.

    Put millions into ocean restoration projects to restore critical marine ecosystems

    An inherently global problem.

    • Poission 7.1

      The big carrot for farmers would be the opportunity to access state backed, low interest mortgage finance linked to transition support AND market development. So much of our farming practice at present is constrained by the bloody mortgage … get that off the farmers backs and focus on improving their margin and cash flow, and everything will change.

      The first priority is to ban foreign ownership of nz land completely.

      • RedLogix 7.1.1

        As many other nations around the world head back into isolationism then yes NZ is likely to follow suit.

        The trick is … when overseas owners are forced to sell, who is going to be in a position to buy?

        • Incognito

          The trick is … when overseas owners are forced to sell, who is going to be in a position to buy?

          Oooh, that’s a tricky one 😉

      • Wayne 7.1.2

        No, banning foreign ownership is not the first priority. Supporting existing farms to keep exports flowing is the priority. For the next few years, they will be by far and way New Zealand's most important source of foreign exchange.

        • Poission

          In Canterbury where cropping and seed production is still a large industry( they produce 70% of the worlds carrot seed) one of the largest constraints on growth has been the pricing out of local ownership of land.

          No one has ever been able to provide a significant argument on why foreign ownership of nz land is good for NZ.

        • bwaghorn

          Do you support the growing call to stop the clean water work this government is doing .

          The polite our way out of debt voices will get loud in the near future

      • bwaghorn 7.1.3

        Na the best way to fix farming is for land Corp to become a leasing company . Then set rules around stocking rates and fertilizer use .

  8. Wayne 8

    A lot of the GreenPeace platform makes sense , and I am sure will happen.

    The big debate will be on the transport choices. The government has recently just announced a big roading programme. I don't see them backtracking on that. If anything it will be accelerated, and quite likely expanded. There will be a lot of debate on the prospect of expansion.

    How much rail and public transport makes sense in New Zealand? In my view, way less than the Greens think. Clearly New Zealand's existing rail network could be substantially improved. At least Auckland to Christchurch could be fully electrified. Obviously the northern railway to Marsden Port should be done, and could also be electrified.

    But I would also say we should be planning and building a four lane highway from Whangarei to Christchurch, with a side road to Tauranga. I can't imagine the Greens would favour this, but it could also be part of electrifying heavy trucking, at least on this road. Electric trucks are coming, and will be in volume production by 2030.

    The covid crisis has shown the importance of the private car. And the public won't forget that. Not that the Greens will recognise that.

    It makes no sense for New Zealand to build electric cars. they are way too complex for an industry base as small as New Zealand. Even Australia, with five times our population could not retain local car manufacturing. It was not economically efficient and the Australian cars were not sufficiently technically advanced. The technical gap was increasing with each passing year.

    • KJT 8.1

      Agree on electrifying rail.


      There are very good reasons for not supporting long haul electric trucks. And wasting money on more roads for long haul trucks.

      Julie Ann Gentor is well up with the play in this area.

      Firstly, compared with electric trains, they are still a very inefficient use of energy.

      Secondly. Battery capacity to do so is years, if not decades, away.

      I've been following developments in this area, and it looks like Hydrogen will be viable long before we have long range high energy density, batteries.

      And Greens have been throwing ideas around, about future electric cars for some time now. I’ve mentioned some on this blog. Including commuter cars which are no more complex than golf carts, and can be easily built cheaply and locally.
      You are making the oft made assumption, that new technology will mirror the old, in exact form and function.

      • weka 8.1.1

        Nice one.

        Even if the truck fleet is electrified, it we had more public transport, why would the trucks need more roads?

      • Wayne 8.1.2


        I am making the assumption that electric cars will be similar to the Nissan Leaf and Golf E in complexity. There is no way that a golf cart type of vehicle could ever be as safe as a modern car, even as a commuter limited to say 70 kph.

        As a student, I had a Fiat Bambina, 500 cc two cylinder engine. It could do 85 kph absolute max speed. To use your analogy, it was about as complicated as a Golf cart. But it was way less safe than a modern car, without any of the accepted safety features and convienences (no ABS, no crumple zones, no electric windows, no aircon, seats about as comfortable as a plastic chair, etc). It was not really suitable for the open road. In Auckland, how many people would never take their car on the motorway or a regional road?

        In India, the Tata Nano never succeeded because it was too small and basic. Conceptually the Nano, with a 624 cc engine, was a modern version of a Bambina. The Indian middle class who could afford such a a car wanted something better. For instance the modern Mini has been vastly more successful than the modern Fiat 500 (875 cc). Largely because BMW were inspired by the idea of the old Mini, they didn't try to recreate it.

        • KJT

          Already many cities overseas are keeping cars away from city centres.

          Not much of a stretch to limit speed and size of cars allowed into cities.

          70k. Have you ever commuted from West Auckland in the rush hour?

    • weka 8.2

      There are still the significant issues of how to transition the whole NZ car/van/truck fleet to electric fast, then the GHG emissions from that, as well as ongoing pollution/resource use including in maintenance, and then the extra demand on the national grid and the GHG emissions and pollution/resource use in upping power generation. I'd be interested to see an analysis of what will be needed in various scenarios.

      Public transport and local walking/biking/ebiking are better solutions from a sustainability pov than everyone in NZ owning an EV and driving BAU like they do with their FF vehicle. This doesn't mean the end of personal cars, it means we don't start with that and we use sustainability design rather than BAU thinking. Sustainability design requires whole systems thinking.

    • pat 8.3

      "Electric trucks are coming, and will be in volume production by 2030."

      assumptions…a lot of which will be being revisited in light of events

    • RedLogix 8.4

      It makes no sense for New Zealand to build electric cars. they are way too complex for an industry base as small as New Zealand. Even Australia, with five times our population could not retain local car manufacturing.

      Electric cars actually have far fewer moving parts and in many ways are a lot simpler to manufacture. Moreover they're highly adapted to automated manufacturing.

      EV's are sophisticated electronically, but they're a lot simpler mechanically. Just drawing parallels with the old ICE manufacturing paradigm because both have four wheels, misses most of the important differences.

      And Aus has quite enough lithium and rare earths to support a regional industry.

      • KJT 8.4.1

        Good old lead acid works for short ranges..

        We used to make them.

        Had to laugh, when the Tesla saleslady said the only moving part that required annual maintenance, was the windscreen wipers.

  9. joe90 9

    So how can we do this?

    I've no idea. And this is the kind of shit the world is up against.

    After the fossil fuel industry spent hundreds of millions of dollars undermining climate science, it’s easy to see how epidemiology came next.


    Decades of climate denial now appear to have paved the way for denial of Covid-19 by many on the right, according to experts on climate politics. After the fossil fuel industry spent hundreds of millions of dollars attacking climate scientists and accentuating the supposed uncertainty of climate science, it isn't hard to understand how that happened.


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