New regional climate change mapping should spur urgent action

  • Published Date 15 Nov 2022
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As key decision makers begin to move on from COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, yet more evidence is coming to light of our changing climate, underscoring the urgency of a strong commitment to managing the onset of climate change.

More hot days, heavier rainfall, stronger winds and increasing dry spells could be the hallmark of western Wellington’s future climate according to a new report commissioned by Greater Wellington exploring the impact of climate change west of the Tararua and Remutaka ranges.

The report, Climate change projections for west of Wellington’s Tararua and Remutaka Ranges (PDF 22 MB) , updated with more precise regional mapping, was prepared by NIWA and projects climate changes across low, medium and high temperature change scenarios.

It shows that areas west of the Tararua and Remutaka Ranges - already considered a climate change ‘hot spot’ for severe weather events – will experience a progressive warming resulting in more storms, ex-tropical cyclones, coastal storm surges, severe wind gusts, drought and intense rainfall bursts. This will lead to more frequent coastal and river flooding, erosion and slips.

“The impacts of climate change will test our capacity for, and approach to, flood protection, increase the pace and extent of coastal erosion, amplify strains on urban water supplies, decrease water quality and likely lead to a reduction in coastal biodiversity,” says Greater Wellington chair Daran Ponter.

“These projections should be seen as a clear warning for the region and a spur to action. It’s not too late to reduce emissions. We can mitigate the climate impacts that are already happening and will intensify.

“We still have the opportunity to improve resilience and create communities that can thrive in a changing natural environment, but we have to commit to decisive action now.”

Greater Wellington, working with mana whenua partners and regional stakeholders. has identified key overarching priorities for the next 10 years, each of which will respond to the climate emergency.

An organisational emissions reduction target has been set and is being implemented.

The first change to the Wellington Regional Policy Statement (RPS), which is the subject of public consultation, makes climate change targets binding and sets out policies needed to address it.

The fundamental goals of the RPS include halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, which would enable the region to reach carbon net-zero by 2050. Other targets include a 35 per cent reduction in emissions from land transport as well as a 60 per cent reduction from public transport, and a 40 per cent increase in cycling, walking and public transport use by 2030.

Key initiatives towards meeting the goals include enabling low emission urban intensification connected by decarbonised public transport, electrification of regional rail, encouraging mode shift, accelerating the move to EVs, and recognising the role natural ecosystems can play in building the region’s resilience to climate change impacts.

“Our role as a council is to take the lead in enabling people to reduce emissions and prepare for the impact of climate change. This means new regulations and new initiatives that shape our transport system, our urban form, our economy, and our way of life so that they are compatible with a safe climate,” says Daran Ponter.

Updated November 15, 2022 at 12:18 PM

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