OPEN LETTER TO MINISTERS REGARDING A  ‘JUST AND GREEN’ COVID-19 RESPONSE

Tēnā koutou Ministers of the New Zealand Government, 

 

We would like to begin this letter by acknowledging the amazing mahi from essential workers and iwi, as well as the leadership taken by the Government in combating the COVID-19 health crisis. We’ve united and worked together to take care of our friends, families, and communities. Next, we must turn towards planning for our future as we move out of this critical situation. 

 

Now is the time for action. Big action. Multi-billion-dollar action. We have the unprecedented opportunity to redirect our future. The decisions being made today will play a crucial role in determining the state of tomorrow. We need to do this right. If you spend the money on an emissions-heavy pathway, you are leaving us with a double burden; the cost of the COVID-19 recovery and the cost of ecological breakdown. 

 

You have the power to draw up the maps and determine the direction we head in. This is a critical fork in the road when it comes to meeting or not meeting the IPCC’s target of a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030. It is crucial that we take the right path to keep warming below 1.5°C and avoid the most catastrophic effects of the climate crisis. 

 

On September 27 2019, 170,000 New Zealanders took to our streets. The crowds stood in solidarity, flew their flags, chanted in unison and demanded climate justice. Together, we formed the largest protest in New Zealand's history.

 

Now it’s your time to respond to our call for action. We demand that the decisions you make this year in response to COVID-19 show us that you heard the hope, fear and power in our voices. That you are ready to show us you value the people and our planet over power and profit. 

 

New Zealand takes great pride in the way we’ve led the world in the past. As the ‘mouse that roared’ we were the first to give women the vote, and the first to become nuclear-free. Even today, we are being championed for our country’s response to COVID-19. Let's continue to be a shining example when it comes to long-term recovery. New Zealand has the potential to be a world leader in climate policy. We’ve influenced important movements on the global stage before and can do so again.

 

Quoting from the Labour party website: “Climate change is the greatest challenge facing the world.” “The cost of doing nothing is far higher than the cost of mitigating climate change. In fact, many of the actions that reduce climate pollution also have other positive impacts and create jobs.” We urge you to stay true to your own principles in your response to COVID-19.

 

Let’s not make the same mistakes we made after the Global Financial Crisis. Let’s not spend billions on new roading projects and keeping fossil fuel-guzzling companies afloat without holding them accountable for their environmental damage. Let’s not further entrench ourselves in the same polluting behaviours that have us in the fast lane to self-destruction. And let’s not use quick-fix solutions that cause more damage than benefit in the long run. We do not want this future.

 

Instead, we need to listen to the indigenous voices that are too often excluded from the conversation. Colonial systems are at the root of the climate crisis so Mātauranga Māori and indigenous knowledge need to be at the forefront of our response to COVID-19. For millennia, Indigenous communities have lived in harmony with Papatūānuku. The Māori value of kaitiakitanga must guide our actions going forward. We need to be working with the planet, not against it. It is crucial that we collaborate with iwi, hapū and our Pacific neighbours to create a ‘new normal’ that benefits both all of the people and the planet.

 

Better yet, the path to creating this ‘new normal’ will bring about the exact kind of stimulus the economy so desperately needs right now. By investing in zero-carbon infrastructure and sustainable businesses, we will create thousands of productive, green jobs while also improving our resilience when it comes to facing the climate emergency. 

 

We demand that you listen to the advice of the Climate Commission and indigenous leaders as we work towards rebuilding our economy.   

 

Let's use this opportunity to create a better future. Let’s decolonise and honour the terms of te Tiriti o Waitangi. Let's fund accessible and affordable public transport and create walkable cities. Let's switch to 100% renewables and improve the energy efficiency of public housing and buildings. Let’s rapidly transition away from fossil fuels and invest in incentives to steer ourselves onto the right path. Let's support eco-friendly startups and empower New Zealand to become a world leader in innovative, sustainable agriculture. And let's ensure that any bailouts made come with an enforced commitment to emissions reduction goals.

 

It would be a mistake to emerge from this crisis still clinging to the past, so we urge you to invest in a better future, not a bigger failure. Our success so far has come from making saving lives our top priority. It is vital that we do not disregard this approach. Responding to COVID-19, the money needs to be spent on safeguarding our future, not undermining it. 

                                       “Te toto o te tangata, he kai; te oranga o te tangata, he whenua.”

                           While food provides the blood in our veins, our health is drawn from the land.

 

Ngā mihi,

School Strike 4 Climate New Zealand and 4 Tha Kulture

Want to show the Government you stand behind a Green COVID Response? 

You can sign your name under our letter at:  https://our.actionstation.org.nz/p/SS4CNZgreenresponse

Massive thanks to our Australian friends at schoolstrike4climate.com

© 2018-2019 by School Strike 4 Climate Action NZ

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