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Whangarei declares climate emergency

Whangarei declares climate emergency

“Whangarei District Council’s declaration of a climate change emergency in the District reflects Council’s concerns about climate change, and recognises the speed and extent of the change in thinking and action needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, ” said Council’s Senior Strategic Planner Bernadette Aperahama.

The decision to declare a climate change emergency in the Whangarei District was made at today’s Council meeting, in front of a packed public gallery, and following impassioned public forum submissions at this and the previous Council meeting.

“Whangarei is a high growth district with a long coastline, within a large region of dispersed communities. We have pockets of high deprivation and key industries that are high emitters.

“Many of our housing and business areas and much of our infrastructure is exposed to the risk of sea level rise, flooding and storm damage. It’s not just about where we live and work, but also broader concerns such as how our children get to school, risks to marae, how people get to daily medical appointments, protecting our civil defence life lines. We are taking this seriously and will be working strategically with our community to ensure readiness for change. Avoiding creating further greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating and adapting to climate change will be key issues for future councils. We are right at the beginning of a community wide journey.”

“The Council is responding to climate change by starting at home with our own Corporate Sustainability Strategy, aiming to improve the sustainability of our day to day operations and those of our suppliers. It encompasses areas such as the waste we create, the greenhouse gas emissions we generate, the water and energy we use”

“We are bringing sustainability into key projects like the future Civic centre and into day to day activities such as Zero Waste events. We are part of the Te Tai Tokerau Councils Climate Change Adaptation Group involving the four northern councils working to develop a regional adaptation strategy.”

“We have begun a district level Climate Change Adaptation work programme, which initially focusses on the risk to our core infrastructure and will be followed by community input on the wide impacts to our District. Council is a signatory to the Local Government Climate Change Declaration, and made submissions to the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill advocating bringing the target for net zero emissions forward by 20 years to 2030.

“Council’s declaration will involve an action plan developed with our community to put climate change to the front and centre of all Council’s decision making.

Under the declaration Whangarei District Council:

• declared a climate change emergency
• acknowledges that climate change represents one of the greatest threats to our community, our biodiversity, our economy and the life supporting capacity of our planet
• advocates that this emergency requires urgent action by all levels of government to prevent the most harmful impacts of ongoing climate change
• acknowledges that Whangarei District Council has an important role to play and commits to developing and implementing an action plan to support the declaration
• commits to collaborate with central government, local councils, iwi, hapu, the business sector and communities to support collective action for climate change mitigation
• continues to implement its Corporate Sustainability Strategy and to progress its Climate Change adaptation strategy.

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