West Coast Regional Council's climate change stance 'not embarrassing'
Photo / File West Coast Regional Council chairman Andrew Robb says his council's stance on the proposed Zero Carbon Bill is not embarrassing for the region, and he has had e-mails in support. The council said in its submission on the Government's mooted Zero Carbon Bill that it first wants to see more scientific evidence to prove that human-driven climate change is real. It has been the target of ridicule around the country since its stance was reported on RNZ earlier this week. Two councillors - Neal Clemenston and Allan Birchfield - have said for years they do not believe in climate change. An e-mail the Greymouth Star has seen, dated last July, shows that only Cr Peter Ewen opposed the submission. Clementson was absent and was marked down as unsure. Asked on Wednesday if the submission had embarrassed the West Coast, Robb said: "If you take it back to the submission on the bill, that's not embarrassing for council". "We are not supporting the bill as there's not enough information on the impacts on our community." Listen to The Country's interview with Andy Thompson about the West Coast's climate change stance: The West Coast Regional Council was the only one in the country to oppose the bill, but asked if his council was out of step with the rest of the country, Robb said "no". Birchfield also made his own submission to the bill. "I would like to see a proper independent scientific study done on the science of climate change and the role of carbon in the atmosphere," he wrote. "The earth's actual temperature has not risen for the last 20 years. The figures have been tampered with to suggest otherwise. The poles are not melting, there is actually a build-up of ice at both poles. "Where this is all heading is an attempt to justify a carbon tax that will try to force our energy users into alternatives which are uneconomic at present." Minerals West Coast also submitted, but focused more on the potential impact of the bill on the West Coast economy. Meanwhile, the Buller District Council yesterday moved to distance itself from the regional council's scepticism. In a statement yesterday, Buller Mayor Garry Howard said he was not aware of any councillors around his table who did not recognise climate change. Buller has borne the brunt of recent storms that had inundated homes around Ngakawau and Granity, and ate into the Carters Beach Domain, Westport airport land and State highway 6 at Punakaiki. "Have absolutely no doubt, Buller and West Coast residents have very high regard for the environment and want to ensure they do more to enhance the region for forthcoming generations," Howard said. "As a region we are very concerned for our communities in regards to the increased frequency of storm events causing flooding, coastal erosion and placing properties at risk." Howard said there were valid concerns about the social and economic effects of the Zero Carbon Bill on the Coast. With most land in the conservation estate, there was a reduced ability to generate carbon credits by planting trees. Possibly, that land should be taken into account and contribute toward carbon credits for the region, he said. "I agree with (Green Party co-leader) James Shaw and comments from the Prime Minister - this is a big task and the transition will take decades," Howard said. "Climate change challenges us to make fundamental changes to our economy and we have a moral responsibility to do that in a way that brings people and communities along with us." The West Coast would need consideration and assistance through the transition. Mineral extraction was essential for the national economy and it was a question of getting the balance right, he said. United Fresh says cabbages and other leafy greens should be abundant this spring.