Children 'the reason' for Hamilton's new climate change strategy, says councillor
A councillors voice choked with emotion and there was a standing ovation from activists as Hamilton City Council signed off on a new climate change action strategy. Reference was also made to the extreme weather events hitting the South Island . Lets make the next three years the years of delivery, said councillor Sarah Thomson, deputy chair of the environment committee, speaking in support of the strategy. Visibly emotional, she drew attention to a child in the audience, saying : This is the reason we are doing this. READ MORE: * Covid restrictions shrink Hamilton City Council's carbon footprint * Waikato transport policy passes, but councillor labels it a 'disgrace' Responding to a comment from a fellow councillor about being patient when it came to making changes, she said: People have [already] been pretty patient. She pointed to the councils Covid-19 response, saying: When were determined to act with urgency we can. Councillors unanimously approved the Our Climate Future: Te Pae Tawhiti o Kirikiriroa document which sets out a vision of a thriving, low-carbon city that responds and adapts to climate change. It sets out a variety of carbon emission reduction targets for the city and the council, as well as a range of other measures. Councillors were keen to see more detail regarding targets and actions to be taken to achieve them, especially if funding was to be included for these in time for next years annual plan. Thomson, a first-term councillor, said three years ago she was in the audience listening to council discussion on climate change, noting there was still scepticism over this at that time. But there was now greater agreement on the need for action. This is a huge problem and we have to do something about it. Councillor Dave Macpherson said the strategy could be little more than a coffee table book if a good action plan wasnt implemented. On the council affording more money for action, he said: How can we afford not to do it? He wanted more done to beef up bus networks to help reduce carbon emissions, criticising the regional council for not enough action on this. We need to be pushing them very hard. Councillor Kesh Naidoo-Rauf said there also needed to be an investment in changing peoples mindsets towards climate change action. Colleague Ryan Hamilton suggested the council needed to talk through the devil in the detail over action with affected communities to get their buy-in rather than just enforce compliance with any new measures. That thought gained support from councillor Rob Pascoe who said we need to take all parts of the community with us. Noting there would be a minimum of six new councillors after this years elections, councillor Martin Gallagher hoped more members passionate about climate change issues would be elected for the next term. This fundamental issue is going to be front and centre. Mayor Paula Southgate said progress on developing the strategy had been slower than she would have liked. But at least the council had already started to do more on combatting climate change, with the likes of gully restoration and changing council operations. Going forward there is much, much more to do. Thank you to the community for keeping us honest. Members of the public, speaking before discussion by councillors, urged action. If youre not terrified...you dont understand climate science, said Andrea Graves. What council is doing is not enough, said Climate Action Hubs Hannah Huggan. Acting is an obligation, we have no choice. Lauren McLean, with a daughter on her lap, said: Change and decarbonisation is becoming a reality if you like it or not.