is correct when she says the world is moving on towards lower-carbon emissions
and away from dependence on fossil fuels. There are internationally
recognised carbon change targets and New Zealand’s coalition government is
committed to aligning with those and being carbon-neutral (achieving net zero
emission of carbon) by 2050.
government has established the Independent Commission for Climate Change to
consider a pathway of transition towards that carbon-neutral economy and
Madgwick, the Chief Executive of the industry body, Petroleum Exploration and Production
New Zealand accepts the world is moving towards lower-emission fuels.
Many E tū
members feel a deep sense of responsibility to ensuring a sustainable planet
for their grandchildren.
However, many E
tū members work in carbon-linked jobs and those jobs are potentially
affected. Our members work in mining, gas exploration and production,
steel and aluminium making, electricity generation and aviation.
members work in engineering and services supporting these operations. E
tū members in the West-Coast and Huntly mining operations, at NZ Aluminium and
NZ Steel, Marsden Point and in the on and off-shore Taranaki oil fields support
their local community economies with wages and conditions included in good
union employment agreements.
We stand up for
those workers and their families and communities just as we do for all other
54,000 E tū members.
We know that
Kiwi workers were the ones who paid the price for the economic and deregulatory
transformation of the 1980s and 1990s; thrown on the scrap-head as their jobs
disappeared or were replaced by low-wage, insecure work. Our provincial
regions in particular suffered.
We don’t stand
E tū believes
NZ should lead the way with a strategy of ‘Just-Transition’ in which we start
planning now for the transition away from a carbon-based economy while ensuring
that working people and their communities do not bear the brunt of this
E tū is part of
an international union movement, led by the peak global union organisation
ITUC, that advocates for meaningful public and private sector strategies to
ensure that good jobs and employment and income-related support is available as
we transition out of carbon-linked jobs.
We call that a
‘Just Transition’ into new employment opportunities, and the work must start
now on what is needed in such a Just Transition
strategy. We can’t wait until it’s too late.
We are not
interested in some plan that puts a couple more case officers in regional WINZ
offices. We need a strategy for new high-value jobs and other forms
of support that are real, practical,
relevant, resourced and sustainable.
New Zealand can
lead the way in this. There are some promising examples overseas where
unions have played an effective role in transitional strategies. Germany
and Scandinavia provide well known examples, but we can learn practical lessons
from the transition from shale oil in Alberta, Canada and, closer to home, the
framework of approach in the electricity sector in Australia.
We believe that
the coalition government’s Climate Change Commission should have a central
focus on employment-support related strategies and that this should start now.
transitional pathway must also realistically consider the practical steps
required to maintain our economic and employment capability serving our
business and infrastructure as we work towards the target.
It is widely
recognised, even by mainstream environmental groups, that natural gas is a
lower emitter than thermal coal as a power source and that gas is a
stepping-stone as we move away from thermal coal dependence.
Natural Gas is
an important part of the strategy towards 2050.
It is needed to replace coal as the primary power source in industries
like dairy production and as back-up for winter peaks in demand for energy
production. Gas is extensively used, for example, to power large boilers
providing energy to manufacturing plant, hospitals, schools and hotels etc.
The amount of
gas that is required during the transition to non-carbon and sustainable energy
is not known at this point. The coalition government’s Climate Change
Commission should research and identify the amount of gas required at stages
throughout the transition so that we can all have consensus on a clear
In New Zealand
there is currently seven to ten years of permitted gas and oil exploration
left. It is worth bearing that important role of gas in mind and allowing
the Climate Change Commission to identify the real need.
Some will say
that E tū is compromised in having a voice on climate change given we represent
the interests of so many members in carbon-linked jobs. We don’t shy away
from that. It’s our job to stand up for working people. Miners played a
key role in the struggles to establish a New Zealand union movement and a
political voice for working people in parliament and we are really proud of
that legacy. Our members in mining, gas exploration and production live
in communities that depend on their incomes.
understand and accept the challenges in looking to the future and we have a
strong voice to offer on behalf of working people in the transformation to
come. Our bottom line is that we learn from recent history and ensure the
interests of working people and their communities are paramount in that
Secretary E tū