The Climate Action Committee of Waikato Regional Council (WRC) has recommended WRC endorse a far more ambitious but highly achievable greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan for the council’s in-house activities. The new plan will achieve a 70% reduction by 2030 of WRC’s own emissions, compared to the current goal of 45%, and will exceed the Paris Agreement goal required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. (a 53% reduction for WRC).
This new plan demonstrates strong leadership on climate action by WRC to the individuals, councils and businesses that make up our communities and that we ‘Walk the Talk’.
Other recommendations made by the committee would ensure climate change considerations are always embedded into the council’s work programmes and decision making and included a proposal to help accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles in the Waikato region.
The committee heard how diesel, electricity and air travel were the council’s highest carbon emissions. Taking a leadership response to minimising its carbon emissions would see ongoing efforts to –
- use less electricity and fossil fuels,
- a sinking carbon budget imposed on domestic air travel by staff,
- all petrol passenger vehicles in the fleet transitioned to electric,
- exploration of alternatives to diesel to run flood pumps.
- larger diesel vehicles would be transitioned to electric versions as these came to market.
This graph show where the emission reductions by 2030 can be achieved.
The emissions reduction plan will be fully costed – including the costs of NOT taking action. (I anticipate that over the period of the next 10-year Long Term Plan, significant savings in some council operations can be achieved.)
Next steps include a soon-to-be-completed Waikato Region Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory which will provide an understanding of the scale of, and sectors responsible for, greenhouse emissions in the wider Waikato region and opportunities for making reductions.
A full program of work has also been scoped for the Climate Action Committee this year.
More information presented to the Climate Action Committee can be found here
The strong climate action by WRC shows what can be achieved with well-informed science-backed decision-making and political will. Hopefully, it will also show foot-dragging councils such as Thames Coromandel District Council that there is nothing to fear, and much to be gained from signing the Local Government Climate Change Declaration, and setting firm targets to reduce their own emissions.
Denis Tegg – Deputy Chair – Waikato Regional Council Climate Action Committee. Representative for Thames Coromandel.