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Calls for environmental gains to keep moving forward as tomorrow's Budget looms

As Budget Day looms tomorrow, there are growing calls for the Government not to lose the environmental gains we've made through weeks of Covid-19 lockdown.

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It’s hoped tomorrow’s Budget will see the Government invest into future sustainability. Source: 1 NEWS

The global lockdown has already had a positive impact on the climate - with carbon dioxide levels down 10 per cent - to levels not seen for about 10 years.

But as we and the rest of the world slowly return to normal there are growing calls for the Government to not just deal with the crisis at hand but also look at long-term sustainability.

“It’s not just getting people back to work but also where can we create skills, where can we create more jobs and where can we actually improve the overall New Zealand sustainability? So there is definitely a big case for it and it’s a great opportunity,” says Tina Schirr of the BusinessNZ Energy Council.

A recent report by the International Energy Agency showed the biggest plunge in global energy demand since World War II - more than seven times greater than that following the 2008 financial crisis.

“Every time we’ve had a massive reduction in energy consumption because of a crisis - immediately after you see a massive spike and this is what is concerning to some of us in the energy sector,” says Professor Alan Brent of Victoria University.

While that immediate spike is hard to avoid, experts say change is within our control, but only if governments can see past the politics.

Professor Ilan Noy, an economist at Victoria University, says democratically elected governments are worried they would be perceived to be using the crisis as a cover to push some long-term agendas that don’t have long-term support.

“So they are very reluctant to push anything that doesn’t align with the current crisis,” he says.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw says the long-term challenges that the country is facing are not going away “just because we do have a pandemic crisis on our hands”.