Horizons seeks regional co-operation in face of climate change
Horizons Regional Council has an office in Marton. Photo file / Bevan Conley. [A_011015WCBRCMarSt04.JPG] Horizons Regional Council has an office in Marton. Photo / file Laurel Stowell email@example.com Business as usual will not be able to continue under climate change, two public forum speakers told Horizons regional councillors. At the full council meeting on August 27 they spent nearly an hour hearing from Sam Ferguson and Robert Gibb, then agreeing to a memorandum of understanding to be signed across the region's six district councils and one city council next month. Robert Gibb, from Green Taskforce, said the opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5degC would happen within the next election cycle. He talked of genocide, and emissions rising at a suicidal rate. He asked whether Horizons could afford to wait another two years before redrafting its 10-year plan, and said the Labour/Green Government was offering funding to help. "Taranaki has got lots to help it transition from fossil fuel energy to low carbon energy. Why wouldn't we go for it?" Sam Ferguson, a candidate for one of two Horowhenua Horizons seats, said he would love to see the council show leadership, "taking a climate change lens to every decision". Regional councils wanted government to take a uniform approach across New Zealand, Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon said. But the "wait for government" approach didn't wash with the young men. "Those that can run faster should run faster and inspire others," Gibb said. Horizons' main role would be adapting to the climate change already happening, strategy and regulation manager Nic Peet said. The memorandum of understanding would provide a unified regional voice. He, Gordon and CEO Michael McCartney wanted a "regional vulnerability assessment" done as soon as possible. It would point to places where flooding and sea level rise meant development should stop. Councillor Rachel Keedwell said she had been trying to get action on climate change since she started at Horizons, and it had been like pulling teeth. She agreed adapting was important. "What's coming is coming faster than anyone expects. Even if we stop all emissions now we are locked into 2 to 3 degrees' [warming]." She also wanted emissions reduced to avoid warming of 4, 5 or 6 degrees. Councillor Paul Rieger said what everybody was looking for was the "how". "How will it be done, and when?" Councillor John Barrow was worried Horizons could lose out on help from government if it took on climate change. Whanganui councillor Nicola Patrick said Horizons needed to engage on climate change in "different, modern, even game-like ways", and to show where immediate savings could be made. The memorandum of understanding would be a great starting point, she said. It was not enough action for Keedwell "but it's definitely action in the right direction", she said. ++ At the same time, Whanganui District Council is seeking feedback on what action residents want it to take on climate change. People can respond on the council's website, email their ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or share their ideas in an online forum at Viewpoint Whanganui: http/whatdoyouthink.org.nz. While strong, damaging wind threatens this weekend, next week could be over 30C in places.