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Hon Pete Hodgson: Speech - Climate Change

Launch of communities for climate change protection programme

This programme is a key element of the Government's Climate Change Policy.

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13:25 - 13:35, Local Government New Zealand conference, The Edge, Aotea Centre, Auckland

It is my very great pleasure to launch the Communities for Climate Protection New Zealand (CCP-NZ) programme today.

This programme is a key element of the Government's Climate Change Policy. It recognises that councils are ideally placed to lead local action on climate change. It also recognises that councils are undertaking some innovative and inspiring initiatives in the areas of waste management, sustainable transport, urban design, energy efficiency, public education and sustainable land use planning right now. But we all need to take the next step if New Zealand is to remain at the forefront of environmental sustainability.

The Ministry for the Environment's Climate Change Office has introduced the CCP programme to provide your council with the tools and information to take this next step and demonstrate leadership in climate change action. As a world-wide initiative, New Zealand councils joining up to the CCP programme will benefit from a range of international best practice and experience. The programme will assist councils to develop greenhouse emissions inventories, set targets for reductions, develop action plans for achieving these, and monitor progress towards targets on an on-going basis. In short, it is a proven and globally-recognised strategic framework for taking action on climate change.

But what does this mean in practice? Going by the success of this programme internationally - it means a great deal. In Canada, CO2 equivalent savings of 51% were achieved through the introduction of a solid waste management plan. In Colorado, Boulder City Council have introduced an integrated bus and cycle system that has significantly cut car use, saving the equivalent of around 23,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. It is real life examples such as these, and whole host more in energy efficiency, that participating councils can draw on.

Being part of the programme means councils have a wealth of experience to draw on - of ideas, of what needs to be done to get a project off the ground, of what works and doesn't, of how best the community can be encouraged to participate, of what sort of financial and emissions savings should result.

Some will say that climate change action is too hard, too costly. I simply don't accept that. Climate change action is an umbrella term for a whole range of actions that are not new to councils. Nor do climate change priorities look all that different from council and community priorities defined under the Long-Term Council Community Plan process. Most of you, as council representatives and members of the community, want cleaner air, cleaner water, less congested motorways, healthier homes and children, secure electricity supply, more efficient use of energy, and better management of waste.

As Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change it is one of my main goals - and a key goal of this Government - to set New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions toward a permanent downwards path by 2012. This can only be achieved if there is a shift - a permanent shift - towards more climate-friendly behaviour in all levels of government, in business, and out there in the community.

In commending the CCP to you, note that it is deliberately complementary to EECA's EnergyWise Councils Partnership initiative to help communities achieve healthier homes, cleaner air, reduced car trips and lower energy bills. This energy efficiency focused programme is based around the simple principal of making better choices. At a community level, councils are not only responsible for their own energy choices, they can have a real impact on the choices made by the wider community about energy use.

Let me give you an example. Christchurch City Council was a founding member of the partnership back in 1995. With EECA, it undertook simple things like energy audits of council buildings, swimming pools, art galleries, water treatment plants, street lighting and rental housing; drew up an energy management action plan (which it updates yearly) and started to include energy policy in its environmental business plan. The results speak for themselves. From 1995 to 2002 the Council invested $4.2 million in energy management. It made cumulative energy cost savings of $12.2 million.

Wellington City Council, Nelson City Council, Masterton District Council and Waitakere City Council (in partnership with Ecomatters Environmental Trust) are also working with EECA on its Energywise Home Grants Programme. EECA's target is to provide home energy efficiency grants of around $2000 to 6000 homes. So far, EECA has let tenders for 1800 homes nationwide. These four councils alone have committed to meet over a third of that total - some 631 homes.

We talk a lot about a low carbon future. There is a real challenge in how we get from where we are now - with our reliance on fossil fuels - to a future point where we have a diversity of energy sources and improved energy choices. As councils, you have immense influence over the future development and direction of your communities. I urge you to think very carefully about your energy future, and how best your community can take advantage of technology changes.

New Zealand is blessed with natural renewable energy resources, particularly hydro but also geothermal and wind. The price of power is rising at the same time as the price of renewable energy technology is falling, making an increased number of renewable energy developments economically viable. Wind energy generation will quadruple over the next year or so and that gives pause for thought as to how councils and communities can take advantage of such excellent localised generation. I challenge all councils, and in particular councils joining the CCP, to consider how they might take advantage of renewable energy sources on their doorstep.

Last year, the Climate Change Office ran an inaugural projects tender round to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This programme provided financial support, in the form of internationally tradable emissions units, for new projects that reduced emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide or methane over the Kyoto Protocol First Commitment period (2008 - 2012). Two councils have already benefited from the first Projects round.

The criteria for this year's second projects tender round have been modified to encourage a broader range of climate-friendly projects. I expect to see more agriculture, energy efficiency, transport and bio-energy projects to be successful in this year's tender process. I encourage every council here to think creatively about greenhouse-reduction projects that could be eligible for this programme. This year's round will make available a further six million emission credits. I expect the tender to take place from late August to mid-October, with tender decisions made in December.

In conclusion, may I say again how delighted I am to welcome Waitakere City Council, Kapiti Coast District Council, Masterton District Council and Christchurch City Council into the Communities for Climate Protection programme. I am confident that many more councils across the country will join these leader councils. In particular, I look forward to greater awareness this programme will bring of the enormous potential for business opportunities, financial savings, and community gains from climate change action.

ENDS


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