In declaring a climate emergency council noted there is a significant body of international evidence from key bodies like The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and increasing calls from the community that more needs to be done, faster, to have any significant effect on the forecasted impact of climate change.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace says declaring a climate change emergency will mean all decision-making by council will take into consideration impacts on climate change including the need to achieve emission reductions.
“Declaring a climate emergency is an important milestone for our city. Climate change is not only an environmental issue it’s an economic and social issue that is expected to have far-reaching implications.
“If we all play our part we can make a difference. I’m proud that we have made this a priority as it brings this important inter-generational issue to the forefront of planning and decision-making undertaken by our council. Taking responsibility for unsustainable practices by making changes now will play a part in safeguarding our city in the future,” says Mayor Wallace.
“With more than two-thirds of New Zealanders living within five kilometres of the ocean and significant assets, businesses and residents potentially affected, local government and central government need to be working together on adaptation strategies with and for our communities.”
“Hutt City Council already has some work underway on addressing climate change. We currently have a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, infrastructure and roading teams are incorporating resilience measures into infrastructure improvements and we are working with Urban Plus to build new dwellings to higher efficiency standards; including Homestar.”
“Climate change will have a significant impact on our country’s coastline in terms of rising sea levels and other impacts such as more frequent extreme weather events, changing rainfall patterns and salination of the water table,” says Hutt City Council Manager Sustainability and Resilience, Jörn Scherzer.
Hutt City Council is participating in a regionally coordinated working group on coastal adaptation and is taking a cross-council collaborative approach to looking at the impacts of climate change on the Wellington region.
“What is clear through these discussions and the work to date is that climate change will affect us all and so there are benefits to working together,” says Scherzer.
Hutt City Council is developing a comprehensive report that will contribute to strengthening Lower Hutt’s resilience to climate change impacts.
More detailed analysis of the impacts of climate change and communities at risk at a local level is underway via the regional council working group and other bodies. This information will be shared when finalised.
Hutt City Council is working on understanding the opportunities within the organisation to reduce emissions, and initiatives to realise those opportunities as we seek to strengthen Lower Hutt’s resilience in preparation for climate change impacts. A comprehensive report will be presented to the council’s Policy and Regulatory Committee in September.
Hutt City Council is also scoping the work to develop a potential Lower Hutt Zero Carbon Plan to achieve city-wide emission reductions. Key emission sources within the city include stationary energy use (e.g. heating and powering homes and businesses), and transport. Transport alone is responsible for about 50% of the emissions in Lower Hutt. This includes light private and fleet vehicles, as well as trucks.
Hutt City Council plans to start engaging on the likely impacts of climate change including a Lower Hutt Zero Carbon Plan and working with communities on possible solutions in early 2020. Details on the engagement approach and framework will be made available.