Council ready for action as climate emergency declared

A packed public gallery made its feelings clear as councillors at yesterday's Dunedin City Council meeting voted to declare a climate emergency. Photo: Linda Robertson
A packed public gallery made its feelings clear as councillors at yesterday's Dunedin City Council meeting voted to declare a climate emergency. Photo: Linda Robertson
Dunedin city councillors vowed to follow up words with action as they voted to declare a climate emergency.

Councillors - with pleas from community members young and old ringing in their ears - voted 9-5 at yesterday's council meeting to declare the emergency.

They also voted to accelerate efforts to become a net zero carbon city, bringing forward the city's target for achieving the goal by 20 years, to 2030.

The vote came after people in a packed public gallery, many clutching signs and banners, cheered councillors who spoke in favour of action and laughed at those who resisted the move.

Cr Aaron Hawkins said the council had heard from ''countless'' people and organisations, over years, calling for action.

Progress had been too slow, forcing protesters on to the streets, and ''meanwhile, the clock is ticking'', he said.

''This needs to be at the front ... of all of our decision-making. A business-as-usual approach is not just inadequate; it's effectively inter-generational theft.

''This isn't about saving the planet. This is about saving ourselves.''

The vote was carried despite the opposition of Crs Lee Vandervis, Mike Lord, Andrew Whiley, Conrad Stedman
and Doug Hall.

Cr Jim O'Malley compared the initiative to the country's nuclear-free movement, which had also started small but grew to become a national movement with international clout.

Others agreed, including Cr Kate Wilson, who declared she would ''rather die trying than not try at all'', and Cr Christine Garey, who said she wanted to be able to look her own daughter in the eye after the vote.

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''.

However, Cr Vandervis took a different view, saying that whether the scientific consensus on climate change was strong enough, and whether the council could do anything about it anyway, were fair questions.

''I don't believe we as a city council can do anything practical in that light,'' Cr Vandervis said.

Cr Lord also opposed the move, fearing labelling the situation an emergency was ''emotive'' and would only alarm people.

Cr Whiley accepted the climate was changing but questioned the process by which campaigners were shaping council policy.

Cr David Benson-Pope noted the debate had prompted the council's ''sceptics and deniers [to] out themselves'', but urged other councillors to act.

''I don't care if you call it a crisis or an emergency, because it's sure as hell both, actually.''

Earlier, members of the public took turns to urge the council to act.

Jennifer Shulzitski, of Extinction Rebellion Otepoti, said greenhouse gas emissions were still climbing, and, without action, the planet was on course to return to an ''unliveable'' climate, beginning with 2m of sea level rise by 2100.

''We have 10 years to make substantial changes and we are not doing anything near fast enough,'' she said.

''Like alcoholics, we need to admit that we have a problem.''

The loudest applause came when a group of four pupils from North East Valley Normal School delivered their own blunt assessment.

''The sea level is rising ... the ice is melting and we need to do something, fast,'' pupil Lochlie Jackson (8) said.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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“Jennifer Shulzitski, of Extinction Rebellion Otepoti, said greenhouse gas emissions were still climbing, and, without action, the planet was on course to return to an ''unliveable'' climate, beginning with 2m of sea level rise by 2100.”

“”Cr David Benson-Pope noted the debate had prompted the council's ''sceptics and deniers [to] out themselves'', but urged other councillors to act.”

Wow. So if someone does not believe that sea levels will not rise 2 meters in the next 80 years or any other dombs day prediction, then it’s ok to resort to name calling.

Now the precedent has been set, I would like to have my say.
You’ve gone nuts !

This is just virtue signaling. When are those that voted for the state of emergency going to take personal action. For instance taking public transportation, reducing their significant air travel to local government junkets. Or is the action part just for us plebs??

Sammy well said, I think it is just for the Plebs, Cull has shown this with his jet setting off overseas where a video conference call could have done after all Dunedin is Giga town Culls golden ticket for employment - yeah right, I do believe Hawkins does hitch hike from PC I recall an article in the ODT when he missed the bus or something. If I may add this also includes the rubbish collection that Cull has refused to acknowledge is a problem a few years ago wrt all the diesel trucks on the streets doing the same job from different companies in the same area, and that all Dunedin should had wheelie bins. The Council is a total Clayton drink from the 80's. The council d you have when you′re not having a council”. Standfast Councillor Lee.

Councillor Benson Pope has outed himself as the newest member of the Flat Earth Society. Remember them? They were the ones that didn't have room in their philosophy on life for alternative views on the form of the planet. The Councillor hasn't learned from history and gratuitously insults and belittles people who express an alternative view to his. Council has done nothing to address the concerns of South Dunedin by showing any inclination to put a longer term protection plan in place. Instead a lot of time and money is consumed "talking" about things instead and producing further wonderment from ratepayers at the futility of it all. Declaring a climate change emergency is a feel good window dressing exercise by those who have done nothing to address longer term planning to protect its own citizens. Shame on those Councillors who think they have done something ratepayers have been praying for when many of us are simply stunned by the futility of it all. They are wrong if think they can wash their hands of responsibility for what may happen to a key section of Dunedin's citizenship now. The moral high ground is not immune rising discontent with Council.

Real action means scaling back air travel and transportation. Less visitors, less students, getting freight off of trucks and planes. We can cope with a quieter city but hope the council doesn't still plan for 10 years of rates increases. There will be kick back if it does.

There being no comments here may mean this is not read by many. The whole thing Councils all over NZ are doing is the perfect excuse for perennial rate rises. Council can always say: "Well, we are in the middle of a crisis so we HAVE to RAISE YOUR RATES!"
In other words, it's a huge scam.

They're building a billion dollar hospital on reclaimed land , how can they seriously say there's a climate emergency? Science is not decided through concensus. And there is no consensus anyway, the 97% consensus was debunked long ago as was the hockey stick graph. The climate models predictions have never come true , polar bears are not dying off they're thriving,and the planet is greening not dying from co2.

In line with all the others allowed to comment here....
This is a scam for rates money.
It's like James Cameron, do as I say not as I do ie, how many of his movies are carbon neutral then?
Virtue signaling has to end and the people have to be listened to, this council mob works for us, don't let them forget it people.
(Nineteen- eighty four is coming)

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