Wellington Scoop

Regional Council declares climate emergency, agrees on “ambitious” plan to tackle it

News from Greater Wellington Regional Council
The Regional Council today agreed unanimously on an ambitious package to tackle climate change, combatting the impacts already being felt across the region.

Chair Chris Laidlaw says the Council is confident in declaring a climate emergency now that there is a clear plan for a carbon neutrality target and additional action plan to tackle climate change in the region.

“There is a small window for action to avoid the most damaging effects of climate change. This is the biggest environmental challenge we have ever faced and it effects everyone.

“We are the environmental guardians in this region – we are going to need to mobilise other councils and stakeholders to ramp up action.”

The council agreed to set a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, backed by a Corporate Carbon Neutrality Action Plan, and agreed to take a leadership role in developing a Regional Climate Emergency Action Plan.

“Accelerating the implementation of an electric bus fleet and a fully-electric corporate vehicle fleet, as well as allocating resources to accelerate reforestation planting in our regional parks, are just some of the measures we set out in our action plans.”


“Every significant decision the Council makes will consider a robust analysis of whether the proposal would increase or decrease our carbon emissions.”

Environment Committee Chair Sue Kedgley says: “I am delighted we have joined the growing movement of Councils and organisations around the world in declaring a Climate Emergency and that we have set an ambitious target to be Carbon Neutral by 2030.

“Our region is extremely vulnerable to climate change and it is essential we take a leadership role on climate change.”

Research commissioned by the council shows since records began in 1890, sea levels have risen nearly 30 centimetres in this region which represents over 30 per cent of the tidal range.

Regional Councillor Roger Blakeley says the sea-level rise is already having impacts on our communities and infrastructure in coastal areas.

“This is a call to action. A report by NIWA for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment in 2015 found that over 12,000 people in the Wellington Region would be inundated by a three metre rise in sea level, which would have a $NZ8.6 billion impact on the capital value of properties.

“Our actions can help avoid the worst outcomes but it is vital we start reducing emissions now as it will take decades to decarbonise the regional economy in the most just and equitable way.”

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  1. Helene Ritchie, 21. August 2019, 20:35

    This is good intent statement and an ambitious target, with some reforestation (with native trees?) action proposed.

    It would be great to see what other action specifics (or are they yet to be developed?) are proposed, and to have a better understanding of what is meant by “accelerating” electric buses…..

    Where can we find this?

    Responsibility for the environment has always been a primary statutory responsibility of the Regional Council, but it will take much to overcome the carbon emissions from the diesel buses which make up by far the majority of the fleet.

  2. Guy M, 22. August 2019, 4:49

    Its a pity that Laidlaw has only just woken up to the climate emergency facing us – having been responsible for deleting our fully electric trolley buses and replacing them with second-hand ultra-polluting diesel buses from Auckland that we will have for the next 10 years. Points 4 and 5 of the Carbon Neutral target would already have been underway if that had not been the case.

  3. Concerned Wellingtonian, 22. August 2019, 7:05

    Chris Laidlaw issued a statement recently to say that he had joined the Regional Council because of his interest in the environment. He is going out on a real high with this one (except for the diesel buses etc., etc.). It is the culmination of a fine career. We should perhaps be grateful for what he has done.

  4. Harry Welsford, 22. August 2019, 7:18

    The polluted rivers are proof of the statutory failures of the Council. Local govt can’t even provide a bus service.

  5. greenwelly, 22. August 2019, 7:44

    What is the progress on the “negotiation” with NZBUS over replacing the “interim” fleet?? The regional council have been talking about having these buses electrified in one way or the other. Allowing NZ Bus to replace these with diesel buses will be the first real test of this declaration.

  6. Keith Flinders, 22. August 2019, 7:48

    This announcement must be seen as nothing other than blatant electioneering by the 2016 GWRC on its death bed. Four of those standing again, Donalson, Brash, Laban, Lamason, voted to rid Wellington of its carbon neutral bus fleet at the very time they should have been expanding it. Cr. Laidlaw appears to have been absent when the trolley bus demise vote was taken, but he certainly was against trying to reverse the decision during the 2016 election campaign.

  7. James S, 22. August 2019, 8:12

    This is ludicrous posturing from the council that removed the electric trolley buses and is now forcing people into their cars.

  8. Send in the clowns, 22. August 2019, 13:28

    This is comical. They’ve taken steps over the last term that have increased emissions. Removal of trolley buses and the shambolic overhaul of the bus network which has resulted in more car use.

  9. Micky, 22. August 2019, 14:01

    Great that they have time for alarmism while our core services continue to decay. Maybe the council think that if they generate enough fear in people and then offer a solution, people will continue to follow them like lemmings.

  10. Ralf, 22. August 2019, 14:42

    The intent is clearly to have zero buses by 2030 (see the current announcements of reducing bus services and also one of the mayoral candidates and current council members (Diane Calvert) let it slip that buses are needed only for the next 5-10 years). So 100% of those 0 buses will be electrified! Mission accomplished.