WDC plans climate response

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New Zealand’s local councils increasingly recognise they have a duty to act on the climate crisis and are working to meet its challenges.

“We’re not waiting for Government,” Dunedin mayor Aaron Hawkins told Newsroom. “We’re doing it in spite of what their priorities or their ambitions might be, because we don’t have time to wait at this point.”

In the Waikato district, deputy mayor and Tamahere councillor Aksel Bech promised after his re-election last year that he would develop a council response to climate change “with priority and urgency”.

Getting on with climate issues as we see them – Tamahere councillor Aksel Bech

This week he updated Tamahere Forum on progress.

Last month, the council’s Strategy and Finance Committee received a staff report that outlined a range of initiatives and actions that the council was taking in response to a climate warming from the rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

As a result of the report the committee directed staff to develop a Climate Action Plan, which will include both mitigation and adaptation measures for the council and the district.

“This directs the development of a more comprehensive strategy that is now underway collaboratively between staff and councillors,” Bech said.

“It also, importantly, sees the council implementing operational initiatives as we see them – not waiting for the strategy document to be complete but getting on with initiatives as we come across them.”

A Waikato Regional Council-commissioned profile of the whole region’s greenhouse gas emissions between July 2015 and June 2016 showed that it generated 13.7 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over the period (excluding forestry). When the offsetting impact of forestry was included, the total net emissions were 8.2 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, representing 14.5% of New Zealand’s total net emissions.

Key facts highlighted in the report:

  • Waikato Region’s per capita net emissions are 50% higher than the national average.
  • Agricultural activities generate 75.5% of all emissions. On a per capita basis, Waikato’s agricultural emissions are almost three times higher than the national average.
  • The forestry sector removes about 41% of the Waikato’s total gross emissions, more than double the national average.

To read the council report on Climate Response Planning click here.

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