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Emissions Reduction Plan Welcomed, Urgency Needed

Waikato Regional Council has welcomed the release of Aotearoa New Zealand’s first emissions reduction plan and urges Waikato people to respond to the urgent need to tackle climate change.

Te hau mārohi ki anamata, announced by the Government earlier today, sets out the policies and strategies that Aotearoa will take to meet the first emissions budget.

Waikato Regional Council Chair Barry Quayle responded to the plan, saying: “Our climate action roadmap discussion document published in 2020 identified nine pathways to reduce emissions and adapt to the changes our communities are already experiencing.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to fund actions that will reduce emissions, which provides the direction and support to help us respond to the need to increase the urgency with which we tackle the challenge of climate change.

“The National Emissions Reduction Plan will help the region address the areas of greatest impact – transport, habitat restoration and tree planting, and working with our important agricultural sector to become one of the most sustainable producers of food and fibre in the world.

“The Waikato region has shown the skills and capability to solve agricultural challenges and I’m sure the sector will be able to innovatively respond to this plan.”

On the plan to invest $61 million to support a sustainable, skilled workforce of bus drivers, Cr Quayle said: “The Government’s direct investment in improving pay for bus drivers is timely and necessary recognition of this important workforce. Like other regions in New Zealand, our bus network has been impacted by a lack of drivers and, while this won’t resolve the immediate problem, it will help long term.”

Jennifer Nickel, chair of the council’s Climate Action Committee, said: “We have a wide emissions profile in the Waikato and the inventory of our region’s carbon footprint identifies where best we can focus on transitioning to a low emissions economy – and create more jobs.

“Over the coming days and weeks we’ll be looking through the Government’s 345-page document to see how we can have regard to it in our decision-making.

“At a quick glance it would appear some of the matters we raised in our submission last December have been addressed, including an overreliance on the Emissions Trading Scheme to meet reduction targets.

“The link between emissions reductions and reducing costs of living and improving health outcomes is an important one, as well as the focus on policy areas such as polluters paying not households,” she said.

“It’s also really encouraging to see the development of an offshore energy generation framework mentioned, which is something this council has already been looking at,” Cr Nickel said.

New Zealand’s commitment is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

This target requires all greenhouse gases, other than biogenic methane, to reach net zero by 2050; and emissions of biogenic methane to reduce to at least 10 per cent below 2017 levels by 2030, and to at least 24-47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050.

Waikato Regional Council’s greenhouse gas inventories are available here: waikatoregion.govt.nz/waikato-regional-greenhouse-gas-inventory.

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