Climate emergency declarations not matched by council actions

There has been a recent fad for councils around the country to declare climate emergencies, but these declarations are at risk of being seen as ‘me too’ posturing without any significant change – in fact there are indications that some councils are walking a different walk, and expect others to actually do something about climate change and it’s effects.

Stuff:  Councils declare climate emergencies, but will it result in any real change?

Councils around the the country are declaring climate change emergencies, but questions are being raised over whether the move will create any tangible change.

Scientists and activists believe the declarations will be meaningless unless they’re backed up by solid action, offsetting criticism the measures were purely tokenistic.

Hutt City Council became the latest in an ever-growing list of local government agencies in declaring a climate crisis on Thursday, joining Wellington City, Hawke’s Bay, Kāpiti and Porirua councils.

Wellington city councillors opposed to the emergency declaration claimed the measure was “preachy” “nonsense” and an example of “green-washing”.

While Victoria University Wellington climate scientist James Renwick believed the move “put a stake in the ground” and underscored the seriousness of the issue – he said definitive action was needed.

Local Government NZ president Dave Cull said councils were at the “front line” of combating climate change, but there was “no national framework” for how local bodies should tackle the issue.

Really? beyond the talk and the declarations, is much actually being done?

Some things are being tried, but they could be counter productive. Cull is mayor of Dunedin, where there has been a program of installing cycle lanes around the flat parts of the city, but there are scant numbers of cyclists to be seen on most of these, and traffic congestion has worsened – which increases use of fossil fuels.

“Declaring a climate emergency acts as a catalyst for urgent action. It’s a way for councils to increase focus on this issue, and call for greater national support on climate change adaptation.”

Cull’s own council has just declared an emergency: DCC votes to declare climate emergency

At a full council meeting which began at 1pm, councillors voted 9-5 to declare the emergency and accelerate efforts to become a carbon neutral city.

The council had aimed to reach a net zero carbon target by 2050, but would bring that forward to 2030, councillors decided.

Most councillors spoke strongly in support of declaring the emergency, while only Crs Lee Vandervis, Mike Lord and Andrew Whiley argued against it.

Cr Aaron Hawkins said the council had been hearing from “countless” people and organisations for years, calling for action.

Progress had been too slow “and meanwhile the clock is ticking”.

“This needs to be at the front and center of all of our decision-making. A business-as-usual approach is not just inadequate, it’s effectively intergenerational theft.”

Mayor Dave Cull also backed the move, saying the city needed to keep pace with the changing scientific consensus to avoid “a point of no return”.

“The cost to council is not whether we do. The cost to council will be if we don’t do anything.”

That sounds like standard Green rhetoric.

The debate prior to the vote was stacked with pro-emergency spokespeople.

There were applause and cheers as Jennifer Shulzitski, of Extinction Rebellion, urged councillors to act now.

But the applause grew louder still as four young pupils from North East Valley school boiled the issue down to blunt terms.

But this declaration clashes with Dunedin City Council flying high with third highest travel expenditure in country

The Dunedin City Council has racked up the third highest spend on travel expenditure among all New Zealand councils.

It spent $347,885 on air travel in 2017-18 – $214,067 on domestic travel and $133,818 on international.

That puts Dunedin third behind much the much larger councils of Auckland (which spent $1,221,571) and Wellington ($591,310).

A council spokesman told Stuff there were several reasons contributing to the air travel expenditure, including the council’s size and geographical location.

“Many important meetings, conferences, training courses are held in Auckland or Wellington, and are therefore not easily accessible by other modes of transport.”

The spokesman said while the council did not currently offset travel emissions, “we do have a range of strategies and initiatives in place aimed at reducing carbon emissions across the city”.

The council’s declaration of a climate emergency and bringing forward its goal to be a net carbon zero city by 2030 would also “make us look even harder at where we can reduce our travel costs and/or offset travel emissions”.

Something more substantial than ‘looking ‘even harder’ is required to match their climate emergency rhetoric.

Also last week QLDC declares climate emergency

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has voted to declare a climate emergency after a presentation by Extinction Rebellion Queenstown Lakes.

Good on Extinction Rebellion for getting into the act here as they did in Dunedin, but again this is one-sided public consultation.

Members of the public were packed into the council meeting this afternoon where the motion was passed 7-4 as part of the council’s consideration of its Draft Climate Action Plan.

Extinction Rebellion said in a statement last week it was “asking the council to use its role as a community leader to clearly communicate the reality of what we are facing and what needs to happen to our local community.”

Queenstown growth relies on tourism which relies to a major extent on air travel, so QLDC is not likely to make major moves against the use of fossil fuels.

The QLDC also narrowly voted 6-5 to receive Queenstown Airport Corporation’s controversial Statement of Intent (SOI), while inserting a clause requiring ongoing discussions over possible expansion.

So QLDC has voted in support of a possible airport extension whole voting for action on climate change.

It is election year for mayors and councillors, so a ramp up in climate rhetoric is to be expected.

Significant action is less likely, and talk of the costs of actions is likely to be avoided at all costs. Rate rises is a contentious enough issue as it is.


Someone else talking the talk was Robert Guyton in this podcast – Maureen Howard’s Eco Living in Action – 27-06-2019 – Declare a State of Climate Emergency – Robert Guyton, Councillor, Environment Southland

Robert is one who does more than talk the talk.

Leave a comment

62 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  2nd July 2019

    The only climate emergency is the current loony moral panic creating a stream of moronic policies that are entirely counter-productive.

    So we have empty cycleways increasing traffic congestion and emissions, bankrupting businesses and reducing productivity. We ban plastic bags so vastly increasing packaging production costs, emissions and waste disposal volume and transport impacts. We ban our own clean petroleum production in favour of more destructive less regulated overseas sources. We force abandonment of coastal settlements subject to erosion because protection of them is arbitrarily deemed environmentally unsound and futile in the face of the most extreme projections of climate models. We threaten to force arbitrary 100% renewable targets for electricity production so vastly increasing prices for negative impacts on overall emissions.

    This is the real climate emergency: collective stupidity.

    Reply
    • Griff.

       /  2nd July 2019

      Yes Alan

      We ban our own clean petroleum production

      In your head maybe.
      There is no ban on oil production in NZ.
      What there is a halt to new exploration permits.
      which is a Moot point
      Those areas that have already been released for exploration represent the most likely sources of new finds anyway.

      As to coastal erosion.
      The present sea level rise is actually higher than those models you denigrate predicted.
      Retreat is forced by the fact that sea level is not only rising it will accelerate in the future so spending millions of taxpayers money on wasted effort to stop the sea is an idiotic waste of effort.

      We find your world view is consistently built in bullshite that has very little to do with actual realty at the best of times .

      FWIW.
      What these endorsements of the need for urgent action on climate change represent is a shift in the overton window towards action. This demand for action is not only happening here in NZ it is being done all around the world .

      https://edition.cnn.com/2019/06/27/us/new-york-city-declared-climate-emergency-trnd/index.html
      New York City declares a climate emergency, the first US city with more than a million residents to do so

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  2nd July 2019

        Sage is already banning and blocking everything she can lay her hands on. No-one is going to invest in NZ while this lot is in charge.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  2nd July 2019

          $100,000 fine for using plastic bags*. None for using disposable plates and other such things. She wants people to dob in shops who give bags away; how mean-spirited can you be ? I assume that the bags left over on the first will be going into landfill; not even a single use. Consistency, thou art a jewel.

          I hope that she doesn’t decide to ban rubbish bags and the endlessly useful bread bags.

          I don’t eat carcases, but if I did I wouldn’t want the bits of dead animals that I bought wrapped in white paper. UGHHHHH !!!! That’s asking for food poisoning. Anyone who’s ever had blood leak from a dead animal into the rest of the groceries will know what a mess it makes and how hard it is to clean.

          The silly moo will still allow people to buy single-use bags, of course, as well as polyprop ones….which are another form of plastic. I have ordered groceries online, and what a nuisance the paper bags are. No handles, of course.They have to be rolled over and must be a nightmare for the poor sods who have to carry them any distance. The fact that they are limited in what they can be reused for . I fold them and donate them to opshops.

          * $20,000 for careless driving causing death, nice priorities, Ms Sage

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  2nd July 2019

            The bag ban part is only for point of sale only . That is check out
            Doesn’t seem to apply to when we get spuds and bananas in single use thin plastic from the produce section.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  2nd July 2019

              Some oldies were talking about meat being wrapped in paper in days gone by. Not only is this disgustingly unhealthy with the chance of blood leaking onto other things, it means that the paper will clog landfill forever as it can’t be recycled like that and won’t break down because it won’t have oxygen.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  3rd July 2019

              Wake up, PDTs, dirty, contaminated paper can’t be recycled and if it goes into the paper recycling, it will contaminate the entire bale or whatever it goes in with. Paper, contrary to popular belief, does NOT break down in landfill. How can it do so unless it has oxygen, which it won’t have when it’s buried?

              Plastic can be washed and recycled, dirty paper and cardboard can’t be. The dirty pizza boxes that are seen in green bins will end up in landfill if they are detected before they ruin an entire lot of recycling paper and make the whole lot useless.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  2nd July 2019

            I said that people can still buy plastic bags which will probably be single use, and of course there are still those really thin ones that don’t last at the fruit and veg* and which don’t have handles so are of limited use, I have always taken these back to reuse, but they tear quite easily, Bread bags are better. I haven’t seen spuds in thin plastic film but have seen bananas in it. Ridiculous.

            Why are the thin bags all right but the tougher ones that we had to buy not ? This makes no sense. It would be better to ban the flimsy ones which are far more likely to be single use and make people buy any bags that they use.

            * there were when I was last at the supermarket, although the other ones were long gone; they may be classed as single use now.

            Reply
    • Zedd

       /  2nd July 2019

      true to form.. the CRAZY climate change deniers

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  2nd July 2019

        Want to challenge any of my examples or just empty virtue signal?

        Reply
        • Zedd

           /  2nd July 2019

          look out the window Alan 🙂

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  2nd July 2019

            Cool, breezy and showery, Zedd. Is that an emergency in Dunedin?

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  2nd July 2019

              Mild and sunny here in the Waikato….or was until a short time ago…

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  2nd July 2019

              The Hamilton council has been cutting down healthy trees near a Pak & Save because they drop leaves. They’re trees, you bloody fools. Haven’t they heard of brooms and leafblowers ? There have been a few survivors of the massacre, forlornly standing in isolation.

              Let’s hope that the HCC are not hypocrites enough to declare an emergency supposedly caused by their own actions.

  2. Zedd

     /  2nd July 2019

    I think that Maureen is taking the ‘middle way’ between the extreme views. Her show (Eco-living in Action) has won local awards on OAR for ‘most popular’.

    Obviously concerns for sustainability & the environmental impact of industrial pollution.. is now ‘ringing true’ with increasing numbers, in the ‘mainstream’ (even on the right).. not just ‘we’ on, the so-called ‘loony left’ as some ignorant C-C deniers, still choose to believe 🙂

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  2nd July 2019

      Reality always defeats emotionalism in the end as all moral panics fade into silent embarrassment.

      Reply
      • Zedd

         /  2nd July 2019

        YES; Reality check.. 45deg heatwave in France this week.. breaking ALL previous records !

        btw; ignoring it will NOT make it go away either

        Reply
      • Griff.

         /  2nd July 2019

        Alan
        You have been pushing denial on line and in letters to the editor for a decade or more that I know of and still have not come to the realization that you are on a losing track.
        Losing because the laws of physics take no head of those who believe non scientific nonsense from fringe religious nut bars.
        You doomed to be perceived more as a fringe loony as time proceeds

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  2nd July 2019

          The laws of physics mean the climate prediction software is always wrong outside 10 days.
          You should be more careful about what you wish for.

          Reply
          • Griff.

             /  3rd July 2019

            How gobsmackingly wonderfull that you wear your ignorance so proudly.
            You dont know the difference between climate and weather,

            Weather is the day-to-day state of the atmosphere, and its short-term variation in minutes to weeks. People generally think of weather as the combination of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, visibility, and wind. … Climate is the weather of a place averaged over a period of time, often 30 years.

            https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=difference+between+climate+and+weather%2C

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  6th July 2019

              Yes I do know that climate is averaged weather. Unfortunately using climate models doesnt change that as they seem to think because weather models work for a short time – they must be OK for climate.

              As you well know 3 monthly climate predictions based on the models are hopelessly unreliable, and thats an average over 3 months , not the normal decades which ‘define climate’

            • Griff.

               /  7th July 2019

              ROFL
              You think science is wrong because you dont understand it .
              You still haven’t realized that climate is the average of weather over thirty years and are l gibbering about a lot less than that.

              As time goes on climate cranks are getting pushed towards the margins .
              Get used to being bewildered when no one takes any notice of your denial of realty .

  3. Kitty Catkin

     /  2nd July 2019

    The idea of banning so-called single use bags and replacing them with (a) paper ones which use more resources and energy and really are single-use for the most part* and (b) polyprop which is still plastic and hard to recycle (not to mention not being waterproof and – if the ones I have had are typical – are flimsy and tear easily) seems daft. I have been using tote bags for years and avoiding unneccessary plastic ones, but can’t delude myself that I am doing the planet a favour as my totes are not recyclable.

    * what can you use them for ? They can’t go in the deep freeze, be used for wet togs and raincoats and as they don’t have handles, are horrible to carry any distance.

    Reply
    • patupaiarehe

       /  2nd July 2019

      The polyprop ones just end up being expensive bin liners in my household Kitty. As much as I intend to put them back in the car & re-use them, it never seems to happen.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  3rd July 2019

        I can well believe you. You and ???? others.

        I like tote bags and wheeled bags for their convenience, I prefer to carry a shoulder bag than one in my hand. I have a jaunty little blue wheeled suitcase that is neat and convenient. But I don’t delude myself that my totes and wheeled bags are good for the environment as (a) I have a lot of them (b) no one could possibly use them enough to make them ‘break even’.

        I stocked up on Pak & Save yellow ones. These are perfect bin liners and I empty them into the big bag and put them back into the kitchen bin as I don’t have dirty rubbish like meat scraps. It also means that it takes much longer to fill a black bag.

        I can see no gain in using a binliner bought in a packet as opposed to to a P & S one. The old Countdown ones were the wrong size and their staff often seemed deaf to requests NOT to have everything put into them !

        The older style polyprop ones were good, but the two that I had of the new kind were useless; a seam on one hadn’t been finished properly so it came undone. It was so flimsy that I doubt if it would have lasted long anyway. The other caught on a twig (!) and was torn open; it was unmendable and I didn’t waste time trying although I have a sewing machine.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  3rd July 2019

          It seems that these bags are over-rated as being good for the environment as they are just another form of plastic bag and not so easy to recycle. They have to be used more times that anyone would ever be able to use them before they split or wear out. Countdown must know this, as they replace them free when they do so.

          Reply
          • Yes, PDT, they are indeed made of plastic,

            What did you think they were made of ? There’s no polypropylene plant whose fbre is used to make them.

            Polyprop is PLASTIC. Google it if you don’t believe me.

            You silly ass.

            Reply
            • You silly asses. You can’t accept that polyprop is plastic…disbelieve it, then.

              Go on thinking that there are polyprop bushes that grow polyprop…..

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  4th July 2019

              ….and polyprop fairies who pick it and make bags from it….

        • patupaiarehe

           /  4th July 2019

          The real irony is that one can still buy plastic bin liners off the shelf Kitty. Perhaps next time I’m at the supermarket I’ll grab a box of bin liners, get the girl to scan them first, then tear the box open and ask for my groceries to be bagged in them 😉

          Reply
          • Oh, go on, do 😀 I can’t see how bags without handles are saving the planet but bags with handles are not.

            When I was in Farmers today, one of the shop women was carrying a large pile of their plastic bags..they can’t give them away, of course. But they can, thanks to Eugenie Sage, put them straight into landfill without them being used first. People who want bags in Farmers have to buy a calico one.

            Why on earth couldn’t the existing stock be used up rather than being dumped ? Given that most people DO reuse these bags (single-use is an emotive and inaccurate term) this seems the obvious thing to do.

            The idea of dumping them into landfill in places where the soft plastic recycling is on hold is abhorrent to me, but not, it would appear, to Eugenie Sage. Imagine how many of these bags are going straight into landfill now.

            Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  3rd July 2019

    On the subject of fatuous posturing and windbagging, an economist shreds Parker and clueless Government:
    https://croakingcassandra.com/2019/07/03/the-governments-industry-strategy/

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  3rd July 2019

      … and clueless down-tickers..

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  4th July 2019

        …who think that polyprop isn’t plastic and that paper doesn’t need oxygen to make it break down….

        Reply
  5. The Local Body climate emergency declarations seem to be aimed mostly at voters, and at lobbying government for money.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  4th July 2019

      It’s virtue signalling (a cliche already, but a descriptive one) like the shops that claim that not using plastic bags with handles is saving the planet…

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  4th July 2019

        Who wants to use paper bags in the rain? And now they are saying most of the plastic in our ocean comes from washing machines.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  4th July 2019

          I knew that bags were a tiny part of the problem plastic, but didn’t know what the worst was.

          Anyone who remembers when groceries were packed into paper bags will remember how awful it was when they got wet and fell apart or fell apart anyway and everything fell to the ground..

          Plastic bags were overused, especially at Countdown and New World where the staff seemed not to understand when one didn’t want them, but it’s very sloppy thinking that a return to paper ones is better. Who reuses the paper ones ? They mostly go straight into the green bin or dustbin, I bet without being used again as bin liners or the other things that plastic ones can be used for again and again before they are recycled.. They are worse for the environment when they’re made. They don’t have handles so can’t be filled right up as the tops need to be rolled over.

          Contrary to what the PDTs seem to think, paper doesn’t break down in landfill and dirty paper with blood, fat and food on it can’t be put in with clean paper at the recyclers.

          Pak & Save seemed to me to have it about right; they charged for their bags and one had to ask for them (or take them at the DIY) so one thought about whether they were needed.

          Reply
        • Corky

           /  4th July 2019

          I bought a whole pile of yellow Pak&Sav plastic bags before they were banned. I now use them at the self-checkout. I have received a few dirty looks; and a few wry smiles.
          I can’t wait for the first nutter to give me a lecture about plastic in the environment.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  4th July 2019

            People are probably aware that these bags are not new and are probably not that interested. The dirty looks etc are likely to be in your imagination.

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  5th July 2019

              Just shows why we need immigrants. While NZ businesses throw away their remaining plastic bags like good little toadies, these Indians still had the brains to think outside the square. I wonder if they have received an official letter warning them of dire consequences should they continue with the practice, even though they have made it clear it’s just until supplies are used up? 🤔

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  5th July 2019

              ‘The law is a ass – a idiot.’

              Mr Bumble, who said this, was showing his lack of education by not saying ‘an ass – an idiot.’ It’s one of the most misquoted quotes.

              You’ve changed your tune, Corky, you don’t usually want immigrants coming here. Anything but, especially Asian or Muslim ones.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  5th July 2019

              Why assume that these people are immigrants ? Their families could have been here for many generations. The families of the Indian girls at my school had been here for a long time, unlike mine.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  6th July 2019

              Kitty, you need to stop behaving like the resident idiot on the opposition benches, and stop trying to fight a valid point just because you don’t like the individual who is making it.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  6th July 2019

              ??? What valid point am I fighting ? Corky’s usual racism ?

              Corky has frequently aired his views on immigrants, especially those from Asia and Muslims, usually with insulting and racist comments about them.

              The assumption that anyone with an Indian name is an immigrant is a silly one.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  6th July 2019

              It’s true; he makes baseless and uncalled for remarks about Muslims, repeats disproved stories about them as if they were genuine, makes racist slurs against those he lumps together as Asians, as if Asian was a race and repeats the old stereotypes about Chinese, Indian and other races.

  6. This is just one day’s weather, but it was unusually warm yesterday.

    We have had another relatively mild winter so far. Barely any frosts, barely any snow on the hills (and nothing low) continuing on with a notable change over the last five winters.

    A lot cooler today with the forecast high (11) not much more than half what we got yesterday, but still above the winter average.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  4th July 2019

      We had two frosts, but neither was very bad. Many winters we have none where I am.

      There are not many days when I can’t have the door open and I haven’t used the heaters much.

      We have had winters like this before, of course.

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  5th July 2019

      The Tasman sea surface temperatures have remained high from the summer period, has led to similar conditions from late summer continuing into winter

      Its not basking in CO2 thats doing it

      After what was the reason for same or higher temperature before 1947?

      Reply
  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  14th July 2019

    Stuff has progressed its moral panic to full-blown climate insanity. Now running stories on folk who won’t have children because the planet can’t sustain them and others in deep depression and panic because we are all doomed.

    What a bunch of utter fuckwits.

    Reply
    • MaureenW

       /  14th July 2019

      Who .. Stuff or the people not having kids or both? Perhaps if they’re so worried, it’s better they don’t – there’s no shortage of fuckwits if you hadn’t already noticed.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  14th July 2019

        Both. I agree.

        Reply
      • Corky

         /  14th July 2019

        Meanwhile…while the Wests birthrate declines even further because snowflakes believe they are saving the planet, others who have no interest in CC..or who don’t know what the term means, continue to breed like rabbits.

        Or could it be these snowflakes now have an excuse not to have children? They now don’t have to justify their narcissistic tendencies?

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  14th July 2019

          Maureen’s right – better they don’t. At least those that breed like rabbits are ensuring their genes survive unlike those ensuring they don’t.

          Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  14th July 2019

      Just for fun I posted the 90 Italian scientists petition to their government to discount climate alarmism to Stuff’s climate alarmism.

      Reply

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