Saturday, 20 July 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Council votes against signing Local Government Leaders’ Climate Change Declaration

Matters around climate change were discussed as part of today’s full meeting of Thames-Coromandel District Council. The councillors agreed to take a broad view on how council can help mitigate the drivers of climate change and to look at how other councils are responding to carbon management and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Council was asked to consider signing the Local Government Leaders’ Climate Change Declaration - a document drafted by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) that commits councils to plans to reduce greenhouse gases, increase resource efficiency, promote public and low-carbon transport and support the use of renewable energy.

Councillors Tony Brljevich (Coromandel-Colville Ward), Murray McLean (Mercury Bay Ward), Tony Fox (Mercury Bay Ward), Jan Bartley (South East Ward) and Terry Walker (South East Ward) as well as TCDC mayor, Sandra Goudie, voted against a resolution to sign the declaration. Councillors Sally Christie (Thames Ward), Strat Peters (Thames Ward) and Rex Simpson (Thames Ward) were in favour.

The councillors welcomed the large public forum at this morning’s meeting and the members of the community who came to present their views to council around climate change.

Mrs Goudie says it was encouraging that most of those presenting to council agreed that council's actions sspeak louder than words when it comes to the climate change challenge.

While TCDC has not signed the Climate Change Declaration, it is already committed to working on many of the initiatives within the declaration itself. These include -

  • Supporting walking and cycling infrastructure within the Coromandel’s communities.
  • Supporting a public transport service in Thames and the uptake of electric vehicles through working to develop a network of charging stations across the Peninsula.
  • Proactively engaging with the Coromandel’s coastal communities on shoreline management plans that will identify long term management strategies for each coastal community and will take into account projected sea level rise scenarios associated with climate change.
  • Advocating to central government on leading the response for small coastal communities when it comes to possible threats to infrastructure, private property, the local economy and livelihoods.

"Both LGNZ and TCDC will continue to look at the government to lead the way forward," Mrs Goudie says. “The decision not to sign the  Climate Change Declaration does not mean we do not take climate change seriously. However, the initiatives described in the declaration have not yet been canvassed across [the Coromandel] and have unknown financial and legal consequences.”

In Mrs Goudie’s view, the declaration has the potential to be a legally binding document and TCDC and individual elected members could be at risk if they do not uphold all the initiatives. 

"This declaration does not indemnify us from action or inaction," says Mrs Goudie. "The only way we can be protected is if the government indemnifies us, so we are vulnerable either way.

“There have been statements out there that I am a climate change denier - this is patently incorrect and misrepresents the facts.

“Our Council will continue to take action, following robust decision-making processes, in response to climate change for our communities.”

The councillors passed a resolution asking TCDC staff to take a broad view of the actions undertaken to mitigate the drivers of climate change and to scan how other councils are responding to carbon management and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Pictured is the public forum at today's full meeting of TCDC.

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