Declaration of climate emergency reinforces need for partnership with local government
Greater Wellington Regional Council strongly supports the Government's declaration of a climate emergency and welcomes its foresight in acknowledging the greatest challenge to face the nation.
"The declaration sends the strongest signal that the Government is serious about turning the tide of climate change, and we welcome it and the Government's pledge to achieve state sector carbon neutrality by 2025" says Greater Wellington climate committee chair Cr Thomas Nash.
"We support the Government's approach to developing a climate change action plan over the next three years and there's plenty it can do right now too.
While not noted in the declaration, it provides a" real opportunity to build stronger and more supportive partnerships with local government on climate change. Councils and the communities we serve are at the sharp end of the changes we are going to see to our climate and the responses we will need to put in place."
Cr Nash says that Greater Wellington will work with the Government on policies that use local government's unique position to make a real difference.
"We want central government to establish a national climate change adaptation fund and to develop clear hazard risk management guidance. This will enable local authorities to take action to deal with the impacts of climate change we know are coming."
Natural infrastructure projects such as restoration of native forests and wetlands for drought and flood protection and carbon sequestration, which Greater Wellington has prioritised through its Low Carbon Acceleration Fund, should be scaled up now with support from government funding.
"Acceleration of funding to support decarbonisation of the public transport fleet through electrification of bus and rail should be a priority and relatively straightforward to achieve.
"We therefore want to work with the Government on procuring new battery-electric trains and expanding regional rail.
"We're also committed to purchasing a further 98 electric buses which will boost our e-buses to 21 per cent of the Metlink fleet, but with support we can move quicker.
"This is what the public wants, and quick decisions will hasten uptake of public transport options and replace private vehicle use. National level procurement of electric buses should be on the agenda now.
Last year Greater Wellington declared a climate emergency and set a target with the objective of taking the council's operation to carbon positivity by 2035. It also set time two ten-point action plans that supplement our 2015 Climate Change Strategy.
To ensure climate action is at the core of its work, Greater Wellington also established a Climate Committee.
"We are actively tracking greenhouse gas emissions both for us as an organisation and those in the wider region. We've identified potential emissions budgets and emissions reduction pathways to becoming climate positive as a council by 2035.
"These will require significant investment decisions which will carry affordability issues for Greater Wellington. We hope the Government's declaration will sharpen its focus on supporting local government as an agent for positive action," says Cr Nash.
Greater Wellington also convenes the Wellington Region Climate Change Working Group, which is essential to regional governance and coordinated collaborative action. It partners with councils and mana whenua throughout the region and provides essential and robust scientific and technical support at a regional level.
"We support our partners in their community efforts by bringing climate science, natural hazard and adaptation expertise to their work. The local government sector is a willing and vital partner in the struggle to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change."
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