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Call for leadership to address climate change


30 March 2006

Call for leadership to address climate change challenges

The Climate Change Conference held recently in Wellington has sparked reaction from some of the politicians who attended it.

Councillor Christine Caughey, who attended the conference, said that Auckland City is committed to sustainable development in its plans for future population growth, for changing social needs, for its growing economy and its environmental and transportation needs.

"Planning for climate change must be an integral part of this planning process," she says.

"What is clear from the conference is the complexity of issues that must be addressed.

Under the Local Government Act, all councils must develop a Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP). This is a 10-year plan which significantly shapes the future of our communities. I am concerned about the national lack of information and guidance in relation to future scenarios in planning for climate change.

"It is clear from the conference that New Zealand needs to do a lot more work in relation to issues such as population change (including immigration), economic growth, changes to our transport system and future fuel and energy supplies. What central government needs to do is more scenario planning, in particular in the social and economic area. Many decisions resulting from the council's LTCCPs commit land and communities for many decades.

"If the government is committed to supporting sustainable development and resilient adaptive change in our communities, there is an urgent need to provide consistent data on a broad range of future scenarios that allows councils to meet their mandate under the Local Government Act in a consistent and coordinated manner."

Councillor Caughey says Auckland City is keen to meet its responsibilities but calls for collaboration with government at central and regional level, with business, with research institutions and with councils across New Zealand.

"New technologies were seen at the conference as playing a key role in identifying and managing issues around sustainable development.

"The special Summit on Digital Earth to be held in Auckland in August 2006 is expected to contribute significantly to this essential set of technological tools," Councillor Caughey says.

Councillor Glenda Fryer, who also attended the conference, says that councils must consider climate change in their district plans as required under last year's amendment to the Resource Management Act.

"But the tools to assist us are not yet in place. Auckland's communities must recognise that climate change is altering our weather patterns. We must plan for heavier rain deluges, storm surges and flooding. These are critical issues if those who live on the coast or in low lying areas are to be safe.

"Already some coastal areas of New Zealand have suffered significant storm effects. Auckland City must also plan for these weather events. The council is happy to do the work but central and regional government leadership, collaboration, guidance and information-sharing is essential," Councillor Fryer says.

Mayor Dick Hubbard supports these views. "Climate change is a reality. We need to work out how we best plan for the increase in air temperature and sea level rise in the medium term. We simply can not allow future generations to pay a price for our avoiding action on these issues.

"We are taking the effects of climate change and green house gas emissions very seriously. If we don't get it right, as we plan our urban form in Auckland, the downstream costs will be immeasurable and irreversible."


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