Friday, May 14, 2021

How does the government still not know this?

For the past two years the government has been trying to decarbonise the education sector, funding schools to replace dirty old coal boilers with heat pumps and solar panels. But according to Stuff this morning, they still don't know how many they need to replace:

An estimated 1150 state schools burn fossil fuels to heat classrooms, but the Government doesn’t have an exact figure, or a full list of affected schools.

This suggests the Government’s funding to date – $55 million to convert 90 schools to green fuels – will cover a small fraction of the problem.


Pressed for the numbers, the Ministry of Education said there are at least 200 boilers in schools burning coal, an estimated 150 burning diesel and roughly another 800 burning LPG or natural gas (the fossil form of methane).

How does the government not know this? They put this policy in place two years ago. It will have been under development for a year before that. You would expect that in that development process someone would have asked how big the problem was, so they would know how much it was going to cost. And unlike Stuff, whose OIA requests just get ignored by incompetant and lawless school boards, the Ministry of Education can demand schools provide information, and these demands get actioned. If they didn't know when they developed the policy, they have absolutely no excuse for not knowing it now.

But I guess that, like school maintenance, knowing means having to pay to fix it, which for an agency under constant budget pressure from a government still dedicated to austerity means a strong incentive to ignore problems and not know things until forced to. Which does not bode well for the effectiveness of this programme, or its durability.