Have your say on the Wellington region's response to climate change
The Greater Wellington Regional Council is seeking public comment on its draft Climate Change Strategy for the Wellington region.
The draft strategy has been developed with help from the community. It aims to increase awareness of the impacts of climate change on the region and sets out ways we can adapt to these effects, as well as ways we can mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
"Climate change is the biggest environmental challenge we face," says Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Fran Wilde. "But it is not just an environmental issue. It will have economic and social impacts too.
"As a coastal region, hemmed in to the east, south, and west by the sea, we are particularly vulnerable to even a small rise in sea level, and coastal hazards such as erosion and storm surge.
"Storms occurring on top of a higher sea level will affect public infrastructure such as the transport network and storm water systems, as well as people's homes and other buildings.
"This will be significant and expensive for some landowners across the region, as well as central and local government.
"We all saw the impact of the big storm that took out a chunk of the Hutt-Wellington railway line for nearly a week. This was a big wake-up call and, as a region, we need to take these trends seriously."
Sea levels in the Wellington region have been measured for many years. They are now tracking towards a 0.8 metre rise by 2090 and one metre by 2115 compared to 1990 levels.
Extreme winds will likely increase in frequency between two and five percent over this century and average temperatures are forecast to climb 0.9 degrees celsius by 2040 and 2.1 degrees by 2090.
These projections come from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, released in 2007 and downscaled to the Wellington region by NIWA.
The IPCC's Fifth Assessment report was released in stages in 2013 and 2014 with updated projections that are currently being downscaled to the regional level by NIWA as part of the "Climate Change Impacts and Implications for New Zealand" project. These projections are expected to be released to the public later this year but you can see more now at www.ccii.org.nz/research-aims/ra1/
Ms Wilde said that preparing for the impacts of climate change was critical, but that we also have a responsibility to act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, has noted that while some of the impacts of climate change are now inevitable due to the accumulation of past and current greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, the speed and magnitude of impacts will be decided by how quickly countries - including New Zealand - reduce emissions," Ms Wilde says.
"We're moving quickly on this very serious issue for the people of the Wellington region and it's really important that as many people as possible get in behind our strategy and also play their part by reducing emissions in their own lives."
The draft strategy is available on the Have Your Say section of the Greater Wellington Regional Council website at http://haveyoursay.gw.govt.nz/climate-change
Submissions close on 10 April.
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