Schools excluded from Govt coal commitment

2 December 2020

Education union NZEI Te Riu Roa is disappointed the education sector has been excluded from a state sector phase-out of coal boilers by 2025, announced today.

The announcement, made by the Prime Minister today, notes that schools are included in principle “subject to further work and a report back on when the offsetting obligation applies and the feasibility of their inclusion.”

NZEI Te Riu Roa President, Liam Rutherford, says schools must be included in the Government’s immediate priorities for climate action and funding should be found urgently to support them in phasing out coal.

“Today’s climate emergency declaration included all the right rhetoric," he says.

“But to secure a Just Transition to a safe climate future we all need to be included in real action. Schools were notably absent from the Government’s firm plans on coal today. It’s a real disappointment.”

To date, a small number of schools have been supported to phase out coal boilers. However, almost 200 schools across the country still burn coal, an outdated technology that is not only damaging to the environment but also harmful to children’s health.

Today’s announcement excluded schools from the Government’s commitment to phase out the state sector’s largest and most active coal boilers by 2025, and didn’t provide any new funding to support schools.

The union says the School Strike for Climate movement has shown children and schools in Aotearoa support strong action on climate change, and want to play a role in responding to the issue.

“If the Government is going to take the issue of climate change seriously, our schools need to be supported to make transformative changes. We need clear commitments to phase out coal boilers urgently – and the funding to make it happen.”

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