$0.5 Billion Reasons for Thames Coromandel Council to Sign Climate Declaration

Thames-Coromandel District Council has confirmed that $0.5 billion worth of its own community/ratepayer assets are at risk from sea level rise Radio NZ reports.

Council’s own data makes a mockery of Mayor Sandra Goudie’s excuse for not signing the Local Government Climate Change Declaration because of “unknown financial consequences”.

When Mayor Goudie gave this excuse, she was already aware that there were known financial consequences of inaction on climate change of at least $0.5 billion.  Tens of billions of dollars of private property and business value will also be at risk from sea level rise in the District.

Signing the Declaration will mean the Council will actively begin reducing its own emission and thereby help lessen climate change damaging impacts like sea level rise.  Signing will also show leadership and help encourage local residents to reduce their emissions.

It is shocking that the Mayor cannot see the obvious connection between this massive financial risk to ratepayers, and the need for her and the Council to sign the Local Government New Zealand Climate Change Declaration.

Radio NZ has reported that figures provided by TCDC to Local Government New Zealand confirm that $63 million of critical Council assets of roading, water supplies, wastewater treatment, stormwater, and building infrastructure are at risk from as little as half a metre rise in sea level.  This is equivalent to TCDC’s total annual rate revenue.

The value of at-risk community assets ramped up sharply at each increment of sea level rise, with the data showing that $129 million worth of local council assets is at risk at 1 metre of sea level rise, with $188 million at risk at 1.5 m and $0.5 billion at risk at 3 m.

valuation assets

These valuations are for Council infrastructure only – not private property or businesses – and do not include jetties, wharves, boat ramps, production forestry or agriculture, parks, reserves, sports fields or cemeteries owned by Council. Nor do they cover the potential cost of remediating closed landfills on coastal land at risk from sea flooding.

The assets most at risk include roads, wastewater treatment plants, community facilities such as swimming pools, libraries, community centres, halls and underground pipes.

With 3 m of sea level rise the Council chambers and offices in Mackay Street, Thames valued at $8.2 million would be at risk, according to the information supplied by the Council.

It beggars belief that our Mayor is opposed to the Declaration when she has clear data produced by the council itself showing the massive costs ratepayers face from sea level rise. 

The Climate Declaration’s pledge to take action to reduce the Council’s own greenhouse gas emissions can only help to minimise these damaging climate change impacts.  And help to lessen the massive costs ratepayers will face as seas rise.   Why is this so hard for the Mayor and some Councillors to understand? 

The strong political leadership on climate change this District desperately needs is sadly absent. The real leadership is coming from the likes of Helena Mayer and Lillian Balfour. They are the 14-year-old Thames High School students who organised the School Strike 4 Climate in Thames on 15 March and who speak with such passion and determination in the RNZ interview.  (And who the Mayor refused to meet on the day of the school strike)