Environment Canterbury declares climate emergency
Environment Canterbury has today declared a climate emergency, highlighting both the urgent need to address the issue, and the work already being done to help the region respond.
"Climate change presents significant challenges, risks and opportunities to Canterbury and we've long acknowledged the urgent need to address climate change for the benefit of current and future generations.
"The Council’s role is to support the region and its communities to better understand and proactively respond," deputy chair Peter Scott says.
"We have no doubt at Council that urgency is required – the science is irrefutable and we have for some time now, been responding accordingly."
In making the declaration, the Council noted it already demonstrated climate change leadership, including establishment of the Climate Change Integration programme; incorporation of climate change considerations into all Council's work programmes and decisions; working with regional partners to ensure a collaborative response; advocating and engaging with Central Government; and leading by example in reducing its emissions.
An attachment in the council's meeting papers provided more detail of that ongoing and planned climate change-focused work.
There are no additional immediate financial implications for ratepayers associated with today's decision, Peter Scott says.
An increasing number of governments around the world have recognised a "climate emergency" in some form, including the UK and Welsh Parliaments, and a large number of local governments in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
"There will inevitably be those who say we are still not doing enough. I'd encourage those people to find out more about the wide range of work we, the territorial authorities, and central government are already doing, and what is planned before they draw that conclusion," Peter Scott says.
"Extinction Rebellion asked us to declare a 'climate emergency' and, after debate and careful consideration, that is what we have done. We are not at odds with Extinction Rebellion's desire to see people sit up and take urgent notice and urgent action. Our declaration today confirms that."
Note: Chairman Steve Lowndes is an ordinary member of Extinction Rebellion and as such declared an interest and did not take part in the Council decision.
The Council affirmed the following statement:
"Environment Canterbury recognises the importance of an urgent need to address climate change for the benefit of current and future generations.
The science is irrefutable – climate change is already impacting ecosystems and communities around the world, with increasingly frequent and severe storms, floods and droughts; melting polar ice sheets; sea level rise and coastal inundation and erosion; and impacts on biodiversity including species loss and extinction.
The IPCC's Special Report in October 2018 stated that we have twelve years to turn greenhouse gas emissions around to limit global warming to the Paris Agreement target of 1.5-degrees, or face an uncertain future.
This requires 'rapid and far-reaching' transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems.
Everyone has a role to play in delivering the change required."
As such, Environment Canterbury declares a climate emergency and commits to continue to:
- robustly and visibly incorporate climate change considerations into Council work programmes and decisions
- provide strong local government leadership in the face of climate change, including working with regional partners to ensure a collaborative response
- advocate strongly for greater Central Government leadership and action on climate change
- increase the visibility of our climate change work
- lead by example in monitoring and reducing Council's greenhouse gas emissions.