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Wellington City Council must follow declaration with action


The global movement Extinction Rebellion, or XR, has told the Wellington City Council it must follow its declaration of a climate and ecological emergency with strong action. The council on Thursday morning declared the twin emergencies, becoming the 6th Council in New Zealand to do so.

XR’s spokesperson, marine ecologist Dr. Sea Rotmann, commended the council for declaring both emergencies, and for deciding to act on the most significant emission reductions over the coming decade.

But Dr. Rotmann also told councillors that XR expected those words to be backed by urgent action – and the truth.

She questioned Wellington’s claim to be the lowest carbon city in Australasia because international transport emissions were excluded from the accounting.

“Given that we are already disproportionately emitting GHG pollution from aviation, are you now prepared to stop the proposed extension to the airport runway?” Dr Rotmann asked the council committee.

She says recent modelling shows sea level rise will cause $7b worth of damage to the Wellington CBD alone unless emissions are drastically cut.

“Given the likelihood of inundation of coastal areas of the city, are you
now prepared to halt harbourside developments, such as the proposed one at
Shelly Bay? “How will you deal with vulnerable access roads like the ones going to the airport and Miramar Peninsula?”

Dr. Rotmann said Wellington needs to prioritise adaptation to the impending crises and invest in walking, cycling and low-emissions public transport.

“We will all be judged by future generations on what we did, or failed to do, to avoid the worst of the effects of this existential threat we are all facing,” she told Council.

“This is not a drill – the fire alarm is blaring. By declaring these emergencies the Council has shown it has awoken.

“Now it’s time to show where, how and how quickly you are willing to draw the line with your actions to guarantee the survival of our generation, future generations and other species.”

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