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Council Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fall

Council’s Climate Change Sub-committee met yesterday to receive a report on the Council’s latest emissions inventory, plus an update on the Climate Change Action Plan and hear from members of the community.

Landfill makes up 78% of greenhouse gas emissions for Council, with organic waste the biggest contributor

In 2023, greenhouse gas emissions from council-controlled operations totalled 38,761 tonnes, down 14.7% from a peak in 2020. The largest sources of emissions are the Bluegums landfill (30,426 tonnes) and wastewater treatment (3,998 tonnes).

Environmental consultancy WSP undertook the independent audit and report. Previous emissions inventories in 2019 and 2020 were also prepared by an independent consultant.

Assets and Services Manager Richard Coningham told the sub-committee that emissions peaked in 2020 due to Covid-19, when Blenheim’s waste sorting centre was closed and more waste was sent to landfill.

The report shows a step in the right direction, said Councillor Gerald Hope, who chairs the sub-committee.

“This is a whole-of-council approach to take stock of our emissions profile. While it shows improvement, it also shows where we can do better,” Clr Hope said. “We are in this together and that’s why we’re taking a coordinated approach to reduce our emissions.”

The sub-committee was formed with an initial focus on council-controlled emissions and future planning.

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“This was our first meeting - the role of the sub-committee will continue to evolve,” Clr Hope said. “Our initial focus is on Council’s emissions because we need to make sure we are leading by example. We hear the calls for climate change leadership from the community and the best way to do that is to walk the talk.”

Council’s Climate Change Action Plan outlines several actions underway to mitigate greenhouse gases, as well as how the organisation is planning for the future. Government rules will require greenwaste and food waste to be diverted from landfill by 2030. Council is also considering purchasing more hybrid vehicles as its fleet lease expires, as well as replacing old office air conditioning units for efficiency gains.

The Climate Change Action Plan also outlines how Council is planning to adapt to climate change, such as considering rising sea levels. In October 2023, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research presented a Marlborough-wide assessment of potential coastal inundation influenced by sea level rise.

One of its recommendations was to undertake more advanced modelling in the Lower Wairau (including Blenheim, Rarangi to Te Pokohiwi/Boulder Bank), which is underway. Once complete, Council will work with the community on future pathways to address possible sea level rise in this area over the next 100 years.

The meeting concluded with a presentation by Climate Karanga Marlborough, a grassroots climate change group formed in 2015, and members of the public in attendance asked questions.

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