Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Climate emergencies: Councils warned to proceed with care

Climate emergency declarations: Councils warned to proceed with caution

Katie Todd

While Auckland City Council has become the latest to declare a climate emergency, four councils who have already made similar declarations are grappling with how to turn words into action.

Caption goes Climate Conscious Mana Rangatahi Summit address Auckland Council ahead of its vote to declare a climate emergency. Photo: RNZ / Rowan Quinn

Auckland councillors voted on Tuesday to join the global movement after pressure from climate activists, but for councils who already made the declarations the pressure is on to act swiftly, while striking a balance with the interests of ratepayers - and that isn't proving easy.

The climate emergency declarations are largely symbolic, but meant to signal a commitment to urgently curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenpeace spokesperson Gen Toop said councils should quickly follow up their declarations with tangible actions and enforceable policies.

"These declarations cannot be simply a rebranding of councils existing climate policies, because they are inadequate to deal with the climate emergency. Councils will be held to account if they don't start acting like this is an emergency," she said.

However, she said Nelson City Council were the only group actively putting their money where their mouth is, so far.

It's using about $250,000 of ratepayer money to make a climate taskforce and employ a council 'climate champion' - and in an amendment put to councillors on Friday, another $500,000 will be taken from the Port Nelson special dividend for future climate change initiatives.

Similar changes could be in the pipeline in Auckland, where mayor Phil Goff has also pledged to re-prioritise spending. However, not all Nelson councillors were happy to be spending so much on climate change, so quickly.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff yesterday acknowledged that the council
would have to act faster than it previously had on climate change
policies and spending on initiatives. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Many who voted for a climate emergency declaration, like Nelson City Councillor Mel Courtney, now feel the council is rushing to act without enough public consultation.

"The report that was prepared by offices prior to the meeting - they did it through the night on Thursday evening, before the Friday's meeting. Very quickly," he said.

"You just do not make good decisions if you're under pressure and had these time restraints on you."

Mr Courtney has warned councils who have declared climate emergencies to proceed with caution.

"As one councillor said: if you're rushing to an emergency, you don't travel 30 kilometres an hour, but you've got to know what you're rushing to. And we had no information that where we were rushing to, what the half million was going to be spent on, what the climate warrior or champion was going to be tasked with ... totally unprepared for what we were facing," he said.

Another councillor, Bill Dahlberg, said councils need to stop and think before rushing into declaring a state of climate emergency.

He said he was pleased that the Canterbury Regional Council were first to declare a climate emergency - "because now everyone else can stop trying to get first and maybe put a bit more work into exactly how they're going to implement it."

"This is a major problem and it takes some serious thinking about how to get maximum impact for the ratepayer's money"

However, Ms Toop said the declarations simply reflected the demands of the public, so the cost of climate change initiatives should not be a major concern for councils.

"You just need to look to South Dunedin, for example, which has had a lot of flooding due to sea level rise ... it's going to have a financial costs as well as major disruption to people's lives," she said.

"So the climate emergency cannot be about the financial costs. The cost of not acting is much greater."


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On Why The Supreme Court Is A Bigger Threat Than Trump To US Democracy

If you need a chilling reminder of how weirdly different the United States is to New Zealand…then abortion rights is the place to start. Last Friday, in a case called Hopkins vs Jegley , the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of the ... More>>


The Conversation: Rogue Poll Or Not, All The Signs Point To A Tectonic Shift In New Zealand Politics

Richard Shaw AAP(various)/NZ Greens (CC-BY-SA)/The Conversation Strong team. More jobs. Better economy. So say the National Party’s campaign hoardings. Only thing is, last Sunday’s Newshub-Reid Research poll – which had support for the Labour ... More>>

Dunne Speaks: It's Time For Matariki Day

The period of Matariki, the celebration of the Māori New Year, which began earlier this week, is being celebrated increasingly as an important national event. While many other countries have their own form of New Year celebrations, Matariki is uniquely ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Why We Shouldn’t Be Pushed Into Re-Opening Our Borders

I believe in yesterday as much as Paul McCartney, but it was bemusing to see the amount of media attention lavished last week on the pandemic-related musings by former government science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman, former Prime Minister Helen Clark ... More>>

The Coronavirus Republic: Three Million Infections And Rising

The United States is famed for doing things, not to scale, but off it. Size is the be-all and end-all, and the coronavirus is now doing its bit to assure that the country remains unrivalled in the charts of infection . In time, other unfortunates may well ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Welcome Deaths: Coronavirus And The Open Plan Office

For anybody familiar with that gruesome manifestation of the modern work place, namely the open plan office, the advent of coronavirus might be something of a relief. The prospects for infection in such spaces is simply too great. You are at risk from ... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth. Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed. Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s ... More>>