Special post (until October 2016) It is really important to have your say on reducing the city’s carbon emissions, so find out where the candidates stand on climate change action and make your 2016 local body election count. More on this to come and the below post may get you familiar with some of the issues.
Below are the points we made for the submission on the Wellington City Council annual plan regarding Climate change. A low-carbon city not only makes smart sense it’s also got the tick from the New Climate Economy who find that investing in public and low emission transport, building efficiency, and waste management in cities GENERATES HUGE SAVINGS http://newclimateeconomy.net/…/press-release-low-carbon-cit… WCC Submission Guideline 2016
It is good to see vision for a Low Carbon capital, with planning that will increase cycle-ways, electric charging stations, higher density building, ongoing smart energy challenges and phasing out minimum parking requirement. I like the statement “acting to reduce emissions helps the city as a whole” P.6.
When setting emission targets we need to keep mindful of
- If we don’t meet said targets, we will get further behind, and the damage to infrastructure, roads, seawalls, and coastline property will require further council funds and no doubt fossil fuel construction emissions to repair. Hence the targets are only realistic if we stick to them every year.
- The changing situation (as outlined by scientific consensus) and the need to adjust our targets if changing climate and sea-level rise predictions worsen.
With this in mind I would like to recommend the following action points from WCC:
- Adoption of a reliable means of being accountable for set targets, preferably carried out by a non WCC expert body, with a meaningful system of addressing failure to reach targets. This is to help ensure WCC doesn’t continues miss it’s targets as occurred 2013, when the target of 3% reduction resulted in a 1.5% increase in emissions. (p.15 Draft annual plan). Investigation of why this occurred needs to be undertaken, and addressed. (p.12 Draft annual plan) states “Whilst we implemented or completed nearly every action point in the 2013-15 Climate Change Action Plan we still failed to meet our targets. This implies that our targets were not sufficiently linked to the actions that were chosen”.
- Given the accelerated climate change we are currently seeing, all targets should be checked with scientific experts, and the 2020 target is dubious. WCC have changed the base year to 2014/15 (previously 2003). This seemingly is used to justifiy a change from the original 40% 2020 target to the new 10-15% 2020 reduction. However emissions only dropped by 1.8% between 2000/01 and 2014/15, so we have 4 years to make up the 38.2% reduction to meet the 40% target that was set. So lets target 38.2% reduction by 2020.
If we never try to make up for the missed targets, it’s like a dieting person weakening their target weight loss after every failed diet..
- Emissions need to be honest so inclusion of International aviation and agriculture are essential (Much produce consumed by Wellingtonians is grown elsewhere and transported to Wellington). Domestic aviation was 17.5% of emissions (2010) and 19% (2015), but didn’t include international, which stats ( ) show international travel rose by 11% in 2015/16. We are told there is no data, so lets get some.
- A team of people dedicated to working with the community to provide accurate data, and positive options for Wellingtonians to contribute at a personal, local and national level to slow the rate of climate change. People need to be assisted to move from a mindset of unfettered consumerism and waste production, toward the real environmental cost of purchases, activities and waste. Making a difference to the transport emissions will only happen if there is an urgent change in people’s attitudes, expectations and behavior. An example may be a move toward more skype conferences rather than air travel where travelling is not essential
- WCC to fully commit to divesting from fossil fuels in their own investment portfolio, in order to take a stand against Fossil fuel exploration and extraction. The books of Fossil fuel companies already have 5 times the amount of Fossil fuels capable of raising the global temperature by the critical two degrees. Dunedin City Council has already made the commitment to this, and we understand is currently being considered by Auckland Council.
- Real Incentives be devised this year (not over the next 2 years as stated on p.25) for people to build sustainably, to reduce wastewater and waste.
- Incentives should also be in place for decreasing vehicle usage and fostering cycling, walking and using public transport. Public transport should be significantly cheaper than car travel… at present many journeys are actually cheaper in a car. Whilst the plan quotes that one fifth of all vehicles should be electric by 2030 if we wish to keep 2 degree limit, developed countries ought to make the switch more quickly, as developing nations have less capacity to do so, and growing populations. Perhaps as cars come up for replacement, there should be more incentive/compulsion to replace with electric.
- WCC work with regional council to put more effort and funding into creating a reliable, affordable public transport system including a green alternative to diesel buses. There needs to be a faster system to get across town than the half hour crawl up Lampton Quay, along Courtney place. Further exploration of the benefits of light rail, and avoidance infrastructure that may preclude it’s development as an option in the future Further separate bus lanes could be another alternative.
- Better and safer Cycle routes for getting across town, especially East to West and South to North, considering separation from vehicles. Allowance for bikes on train at peak hours, given that many people use a bike for the trip between train and workplace. WCC to work together with existing groups who have expertise in these areas. Copenhagen for example has converted some roads to one way, with the other lane being used as a bi-directional cycly-way.
- Actively discourage induced traffic by opposing the building of further motorway infrastructure within the city, and provide appropriate park-and-ride facilities on the city’s outskirts to encourage private vehicle users entering the city by motorway to park outside the inner city and use public transport or active modes within the inner city
- Relinquish the airport extension plan as it runs counter to reducing emissions. No figures have been provided to back up the notion that somehow this plan will reduce emissions, but there are projected figures that indicate the opposite (2014 URS greenhouse gas report). If you add international flights but don’t decrease domestic how does that result in decreased emissions. Surely overseas visitors will wish to visit Christchurch or other centres whilst holidaying here. We should be encouraging people to begin reducing their air-travel not making it easier for them. Air travel is usually the largest emission source for the individual if they make one overseas flight to London equivalent per year.
- The climate change initiatives must not work in isolation, but be supported by other arms/policies of council. The airport runway extension team, for instance, need to be working with the climate change team. See P13: Action on climate change mitigation and adaptation makes sense economically as well as environmentally.
- Further thought also needs to be given to the needs for adaptation. How is coastal-lying infrastructure and residents being prepared for future changes.