Accelerating change the aim for Greater Wellington's Climate Committee
The inaugural meeting of Greater Wellington's climate committee, delayed by COVID-19, will focus on how regional government can help lead the response to our fast-changing climate, the greatest challenge facing Aotearoa New Zealand.
"We will be an activist committee," says committee chair Cr Thomas Nash. "We will scale up our work to achieve real, lasting changes on transport, land, water and the economy so that our region can realise the equitable climate-safe future that we know is possible."
"This means working ever closer with mana whenua to co-design initiatives and ensure mātauranga Māori and Māori perspectives are at the centre of future programmes of work. This is a priority for the climate committee."
"The climate committee is committed to innovating, monitoring and encouraging the broad range of climate action already underway at Greater Wellington."
- accelerating the decarbonisation of public transport by electrifying buses, trains and harbour ferries;
- making all corporate activities carbon neutral by 2030 by managing corporate emissions;
- developing climate resilient public infrastructure such as flood protection and other adaptation work;
- regenerating native forests, wetlands and biodiversity, including phasing out grazing on regional park land;
- encouraging sustainable farming and land use;
- restoring the quality of coastal and freshwater and coastal restoration; and
- coordinating the region's economic strategy to transition towards a low emissions economy.
"Accelerating these activities has become even more urgent for Greater Wellington. COVID-19 was a painful reminder of what happens when our systems face massive external stress," says committee chair Cr Thomas Nash.
"The response to COVID-19 also shows that we can take unprecedented and dramatic action to respond to such stresses. This is encouraging because the scale of the climate crisis will completely eclipse the impact of the virus."
"With systemic, integrated action at all levels of central and local government, in partnership with the public we can reverse the trend of climate disruption."
Greater Wellington's climate committee, an outcome of the council's declaration last year of a climate emergency, is taking a leading role on climate action in the Wellington region. It will discuss its strategic priorities and programme of activities and initiatives at its inaugural meeting on 23 June.
Ahead of this first committee meeting, Greater Wellington initiated a letter from the regional sector to Ministers on 12 June to encourage accelerated climate action through the recovery from COVID-19. The letter to ministers Robertson, Twyford, Parker, Mahuta, Jones and Shaw, signed off by the regional sector through Local Government NZ, offered the full support of regional councils and unitary authorities to help make the most of the many billions of dollars in funding being allocated through the recovery package.
"We've been encouraged by the cooperation with central government, including its willingness to develop a major $1.1bn environmental jobs package," says Cr Nash.
"We want to maximise the potential of this partnership - local councils are uniquely placed to support central government's work towards an equitable and swift transition to a resilient, low-emissions economy.
"Ministers know that we can help facilitate economic recovery, job creation and infrastructure investment while building community resilience to natural hazards and climate change."
To progress these aspirations, the Climate Committee meeting on 23 June will talk through its current strategic framework for climate change and Greater Wellington's extensive climate change work programme.
"Greater Wellington is the region's environmental protection agency. Our leadership will be vital to achieving the transformational change we need to unlock climate solutions."
"Greater Wellington has set a precedent by establishing the Wellington Regional Climate Change Working Group in 2016, which has helped co-ordinate planning across the region."
"We know we need to step up this leadership now and encourage collective action in the region. We will do this through stronger relationships with central government, local government and mana whenua. Through dialogue and an open exchange of ideas and good practice we can help Aotearoa New Zealand meet our national and international obligations."
"We need transformational change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt our use of land and water and protect our communities from the impacts of our fast-changing climate."
"This needs to start now. If we continue to take an incremental approach, our exposure to climate risks around the Wellington Region will only increase and eventually become too expensive for councils and their residents to manage."
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