Waitakere 'walks the talk' for Earth Day
20 April 2006
Waitakere ‘walks the talk’ for Earth Day
Waitakere City Council is ‘walking the talk’ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At its April meeting the Council’s City Development Committee agreed to a set of clear goals for the city’s 180,000 residents.
The first target is to reduce emissions by 15% per capita and to stabilise the council’s emissions at 2001 levels by 2010. But that’s just the beginning! By 2021 the per capita emissions will have reduced by 40% and the council’s emissions will take a 50 % hit.
The targets are in line with International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) recommendations of reducing emissions to one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent per person per year to stabilise global climate in the long term.
Chair of the City Development Committee, Penny Hulse, says the council is in the process of preparing a local action plan to implement the “ambitious but achievable” reduction strategy. “With Earth Day coming up on April 22, it seems timely for us to make sure we are doing our bit for the planet.”
She says the WCC is already involved in a number of reduction solutions, like retrofitting low-income homes with insulation, providing hot cylinder wraps to maximise energy efficiency and subsidising home energy auditing to help residents target their wastage.
“But given that transport emissions make up nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions, we need to focus more on reductions in that sector.”
“That means encouraging the business and manufacturing sector to create more local employment and Waitakere residents to work close to home, and exploring transport alternatives. We’re also actively investigating bio fuels for the longer term,” says Cr Hulse, a member of the Councillor Working Group working with council officers on the reduction plan.
She says projects like the walking school bus are a great example of how the community can contribute to reducing both road congestion and pollution from vehicles, including gas emissions. “It really is a matter of ‘thinking globally, acting locally’.”
“Our biggest challenge now is to ‘sell’the project to Waitakere City residents. It’s a hard sell really, because a big percentage of residents work outside the city and we’re known for loving our cars!”
Cr Hulse says as an eco city, Waitakere is committed to leading the charge for energy efficiency. “We believe these greenhouse gas reduction targets are a practical way to do that. It gives every resident a way to connect with the long term goal of living and working in a clean, green environment.”
“We also believe the charge starts at home! For example, the council is developing a travel plan for its staff, so that fewer of them drive to work when they move to the new Civic Centre in August. That’s something other organisations could undertake to reduce car travel.”
If residents want to help do their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions there are three simple things they can do, says Cr Hulse:
- Consider catching public transport, walking or ridesharing one day a week
- Replace standard light bulbs with energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs
- Compost your organic waste and recycling paper.