Teamwork best on climate

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We can all make personal efforts to lessen our impact on Aotearoa-New Zealand and the planet but a more effective way – like our action on Covid-19 – will be as a team of five million.

One of the most important teamwork opportunities is presented by the Climate Change Commission/He Pou a Rangi, which recently released its draft advice to Government on the steps Aotearoa must take to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.

Public consultation on the draft advice runs until March 28, 2021 and can be as easy as filling out a survey.

Go to haveyoursay.climatecommission.govt.nz to learn more and make a submission. A copy of the commission’s draft advice and supporting evidence document is available on its advice page here. The survey begins here.

Th commission’s draft advice explains how Aotearoa can reach net zero emissions for long-lived gases by 2050.

Putting our hands up as a team is likely to be more effective than any individual action we take [Photo: Paddy O’Sullivan/Unsplash]

Commission Chair Dr Rod Carr said the advice is ambitious but realistic and makes a clear case to Government for taking immediate and decisive action on climate change.

“As a country we need transformational and lasting change to meet our targets and ensure a thriving Aotearoa for future generations.

“The good news is that our analysis shows there are technically achievable, economically affordable and socially acceptable paths for Aotearoa to take,” he said.

“But the Government must move faster – and support business, agriculture and community to do the same.

“The Commission has spent the last year working on what is now the most comprehensive strategy Aotearoa has for reducing its emissions and impact on the climate.

“There are a few actions that are critical to meeting our targets: electric vehicles, accelerated renewable energy generation, climate friendly farming practices and more permanent forests, predominantly natives,” Carr said.

Following consultation, the commission will incorporate feedback before finalising the advice and presenting it to the Government by May 31, 2021. The Government then has until December 31 to decide whether to accept recommendations in the advice. If the Government chooses not to take on the Commission’s advice, it must publish an alternative plan for reaching net zero.

The Climate Change Commission is an independent crown entity. Its independence means it can provide impartial advice, challenge and hold the government of the day to account for action on climate change.

Think local

Making progress on climate change nationally will depend, in part, on local actions so Tamahere Forum checked in with Tamahere councillor and deputy mayor of Waikato district Aksel Bech, who oversees the council’s climate change response.

In August last year, the Waikato District Council adopted a Climate Response and Resilience Policy. It’s focus is on action – getting things done, Bech said.

Tamahere councillor Aksel Bech

Actions would be aligned with “the best information we have rather than trying to lead on much wider regional or national initiatives where others (NGO’s, regional or central government) are better placed to be effective,” he said.

“I would describe it as a version of ‘think globally, act locally’ which has already proved so effective in the space. An example would be in recycling where it is smarter to continue with our existing kerbside collection of recycling for now rather moving to a different system (such as wheelie bins for example) ahead of seeing the details of the promised container deposit scheme that government is yet to release specifics on as this would significantly affect volumes and the way in which recycling must be collected and dealt with.

“With that approach, WDC adopted a Climate Response and Resilience Action Plan in December 2020.  There are a wide range of actions within our sphere of control – and we are actioning as well as building in to our work plans wherever possible action for the year to come as part of our workplans. 

“These actions aim to achieve emissions reduction targets in line with the Zero Carbon Act and as such the council is broadly supportive of the Climate Change Commission advice to central government.  An example of that is the council is already completing a greenhouse gas emissions stocktake for its corporate emissions and for the cistrict as a whole, and both of these will be updated periodically to track progress against its targets.”

Bech said the council is not planning to make its own submission on the commission’s advice but is working on sector-based submissions such as those through Local Government NZ, Taituarā — Local Government Professionals Aotearoa, and the Waikato Plan workstream focussing on climate change response.

The Waikato District Council does not have any staff members solely dedicated to climate change matters; a team of staff and elected members have been coordinating work to date on top of their other work. However, the council is considering adding a position of climate action coordinator from July 1 in its 2021 Long Term Plan – something that will be part of community consultation.

“I urge all residents and ratepayers to engage with that consultation and make clear their support (or otherwise) of such a resource being added to the council’s team,” Bech said.

Meantime, a copy of the commission’s draft advice and supporting evidence is here; and the survey submission is here.

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