Today, over 20 citizens attended the public forum of the Thames-Coromandel District Council’s monthly meeting to call on TCDC to sign the Local Government New Zealand Climate Leaders Declaration on Climate Change and take steps to reduce its own emissions. TCDC is one of the few councils in New Zealand which has yet to sign the Declaration.
Local resident Sheena Beaton described how, last January, the sea surged across the lawn and onto her deck, and how shocked she was to discover that TCDC had not committed itself to climate mitigation action by signing the Local Government Declaration.
Sheena read out to the full Council meeting the names of close to 50 local authorities who have signed the Declaration and called on TCDC to join with them and declare its support for strong climate mitigation action.
Rowan Manley-Campbell also addressed the Council, noting that while TCDC had begun the process of investigating coastal hazards, it had not taken any substantial steps to reduce its own emissions, and had no plan to do so.
I am informed that two of the Councillors present raised with the Mayor how the issue could be progressed. There was a suggestion that the matter could be discussed at a workshop later in the afternoon and could potentially be placed on the agenda for the first Council meeting in January 2019.
Obviously, those who attended will be closely watching to see whether the Council does indeed sign the Declaration, and beyond that what actions it is prepared to take to reduce its own emissions and show leadership to the local community.
What Does The Declaration Say?
“We have come together, as a group of Mayors and Chairs representing local government from across New Zealand to:
1. acknowledge the importance and urgent need to address climate change for the benefit of current and future generations;
2. give our support to the New Zealand Government for developing and implementing, in
collaboration with councils, communities and businesses, an ambitious transition plan
toward a low carbon and resilient New Zealand;
3. encourage Government to be more ambitious with climate change mitigation
4. outline key commitments our councils will take in responding to the opportunities and
risks posed by climate change; and
5. recommend important guiding principles for responding to climate change.”
For our part we commit to:
- “Develop and implement ambitious action plans that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support resilience within our own councils and for our local communities. These plans will:
a. promote walking, cycling, public transport and other low carbon transport
b. work to improve the resource efficiency and health of homes, businesses and
infrastructure in our district; and
c. support the use of renewable energy and uptake of electric vehicles.
2. Work with our communities to understand, prepare for and respond to the physical
impacts of climate change.
3. Work with central government to deliver on national emission reduction targets and
support resilience in our communities.”
The emergence of this grassroots support for local climate action is most welcome. Public opinion polls show the public overwhelmingly want action from our political leaders.
Hopefully, TCDC will now step up and show the kind of leadership which has been lacking in recent years.