There were emotional scenes as Dunedin city councillors
agreed to accelerate the pace of a three-year climate change
planning project yesterday.
Cr Jinty MacTavish, speaking at yesterday's 2011-12 pre-draft
annual plan hearing, burst into tears as she argued
passionately for her recommendation to condense the project
into two years.
A staff report to councillors had recommended completing the
work over three years, as planned, at a cost of $67,000 each
year, plus additional costs to employ a sustainability
Condensing the work into one year would cost the city an
extra $295,000, for which no budget existed, while doing it
over two years instead would still cost $227,500, the report
by council corporate policy team manager Nicola Johnston
However, Cr MacTavish said she would be "doing an injustice
to the future generations I'm here to try and represent" if
she did not fight to have the pace of the work increased.
The city faced "enormous" costs in adapting to climate
change, which would only grow the longer work was delayed,
and having the information available as soon as possible
would allow future generations to say "Yes, at least they
tried", she argued.
"This should not be a financial decision - this should be a
Her pleas won support from a majority of councillors, but not
Cr Syd Brown and a sceptical Cr Lee Vandervis, who both
worried about the extra cost involved.
Cr Brown could not justify the extra burden on ratepayers
given advice from University of Otago emeritus professor of
geography Blair Fitzharris, a climate change expert, that the
council would have "plenty of time" to prepare.
Cr Vandervis also poured scorn on Cr Kate Wilson's suggestion
the council should be seen to be leading research on climate
change, describing the position as "hysteria" and "completely
and utterly unbelievable".
He believed much of the work could instead be carried out
free of charge by University of Otago graduates on the
However, Cr MacTavish's pleas appeared to sway Mayor Dave
Cull, who initially indicated he supported starting the work
with a three-year timeframe, but with the option to review
progress after 12 months.
When it came to the vote, however, he switched his position
to support Cr MacTavish's recommendation.
Councillors voted 7-4 in favour of accelerating the work.