Don’t shut us out: Local Government needs to be part of the Climate Change Response solution
Greater Wellington Regional Council is calling for the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill to be changed to allow greater input from local government.
In a submission to the Environment Select Committee, which is overseeing submissions on the Bill, Greater Wellington has asked that explicit consideration be given to strengthening the involvement of regional and local councils.
Greater Wellington regional councillor and Chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council Climate Change Working Group, Dr Roger Blakeley, says that the success of the Bill will require profound and widespread change, much of which will happen at a city or regional level.
While Greater Wellington supports its intent and the direction, the Bill is unlikely to achieve the desired zero carbon results by 2050 without the direct involvement of local government organisations.
“Regional and local councils have been on the frontline of mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change for the past decade. This has allowed local government to build expertise in planning and community development that has helped shape our policies and responses on issues such as sea level rise, storms, flooding and droughts,” he says.
“However, the way the Bill is currently written there is no requirement to utilise this expertise or to even involve local government agencies in the decision making process.”
Dr Blakeley says it is imperative central government utilise the expertise, experience and advice of local government to ensure a co-ordinated response to climate change can be developed and implemented.
Regional Councillor Sue Kedgley says the Greater Wellington region is looking ahead to developing a regional response to mitigating climate change and adapting to its impact. Cr Kedgley chairs the Wellington Regional Climate Change Working Group, which comprises Greater Wellington and local councils from throughout the region.
“We are building a detailed understanding about the impact of climate change on communities.
“We’ve developed a Wellington Region 2050 Emissions Calculator tool, a sea level rise and storm surge mapping tool, introduced a managed retreat plan following coastal erosion in Queen Elizabeth Park, and commissioned a soon-to-be released report on the impact of climate change on coastal communities. All of this is essential knowledge developed at the local and regional level.
“Greater Wellington’s submission recommends that the national adaptation plan include a new funding policy framework for adapting to climate change impacts, such as managed retreat in response to rising sea levels.
“It also notes that in order to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 significant mode share shift from private cars to public transport and transition to a fully electrified public transport fleet will be crucial, and recommends changes to the Land Transport Management Act including provision for funding criteria to accelerate transition to electric public transport”.
“Greater Wellington’s submission recommends that regional spatial plans be a standard and mandatory part of planning systems to achieve better integration of land use and transport planning, to contain urban sprawl and reduce transport emissions”.