$1m climate funding suggested

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Dunedin City Council. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The Dunedin City Council is eyeing a funding increase of more than $1million to better prepare for climate change, amid warnings continued underinvestment risks exacerbating the threat of "environmental breakdown".

And, with the need to plan for climate change projects increasing, the council may even need to consider establishing a dedicated unit within the organisation in time, a staff report suggests.

The report, by council corporate policy manager Maria Ioannou, was made public yesterday.

The report outlined four distinct planning areas in need of extra resourcing - climate resilience decision-making, improved disclosure and reporting, projects like the South Dunedin Future initiative, and building climate leadership.

To better resource climate change planning efforts, councillors would be asked to decide whether to allocate almost $1.1million to a work programme covering those areas, spread over 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Alternatively, councillors could opt for a smaller amount, of $967,000 over two years, with some aspects of the work phased, or stick with the status quo.

Ms Ioannou, in her report, said some of the risks facing the city were already "significant and known", such as the threat posed to South Dunedin from the effect of rising sea levels on groundwater in the area.

More than $400million worth of roads and other assets owned by the DCC were also under threat from sea level rise.

However, others were yet to be explored in detail, such as the possible risk of climate change-related litigation to the council, she suggested.

Despite that, under-investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation continued "at all levels of government", she said.

In Dunedin, the council had made some strides, such as allocating $35million for flood alleviation works in South Dunedin in its latest 10-year plan, as well as ongoing work on adaptation in the area.

However, more investment was needed to reshape "business as usual" council activities to more effectively include climate change considerations, such as when working on a business or a minor infrastructure upgrade, she said.

The council's dedicated budget for climate change work - excluding one-off budget allocations for individual projects and initiatives - was "limited", she said.

Just $36,500 was included in the annual budget for initiatives, and most of that - about $28,000 - was spent on monitoring the council's annual carbon footprint, she said.

The lack of resourcing for a clear work programme for climate change planning "had led to confusion both internally and externally regarding the mandate for progressing work", she said.

It might also be necessary, some time in the next 10 years, to establish a dedicated unit within the council, focused only on climate change activity, she suggested.

The report would be considered as part of next week's annual plan deliberations, which begin on Wednesday.

Comments

Remember Al Gore said all the polar ice caps will be gone around the years 2000-2004? Well sea levels have risen less than 1mm in the last 100 years-USGS/NOAA.

This funding request is PC gone astray. Fix our roads & parking first.

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