Climate emergency on agenda

The Otago Regional Council will today decide whether to declare a climate emergency.

However, the decision was unlikely to affect its work programme, staff said.

Councillors will vote on the declaration at a meeting in Dunedin, after members of the public asked it to at a public forum last month.

If it did declare an emergency, it would follow the examples of other councils including the Dunedin City Council, Auckland Council, Wellington City Council, Whangarei District Council, Nelson City Council and Environment Canterbury.

A staff paper noted there were no inherent statutory or legal implications to the decision and it was unlikely to affect its work programme.

''It carries symbolic weight, indicating council's intention to prioritise responding to climate change, as far as its powers and responsibilities permit.''

However, there had been some criticism of other councils that declared the emergency, on the grounds it was tokenism, the paper said.

''The public expects action to result from such a declaration.''

A decision not to declare the emergency could be negatively received by sections of the public, it said.

Staff opted not to make a decision, saying it should be a conscience vote for councillors.


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