DCC votes to declare climate emergency

NEV Normal Shool teacher Theresa Bowen and Pupils (from left) Jeantine Dixon (9), Keanu Topping ...
NEV Normal Shool teacher Theresa Bowen and Pupils (from left) Jeantine Dixon (9), Keanu Topping (9), Lochlie Jackson (8) and Vincent Cavanagh (9) make a presentation on climate change to Dunedin City councillors. Photo: Linda Robertson
There were emotional pleas as the Dunedin City Council voted to declare a climate emergency this afternoon.

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.”

The vote was carried with Crs Vandervis, Lord, Whiley, Conrad Stedman and Doug Hall voting against it.

Most councillors spoke strongly in support of declaring the emergency at the full council meeting...
Most councillors spoke strongly in support of declaring the emergency at the full council meeting this afternoon. Photo: Linda Robertson
Cr Jim O’Malley was among other councillors to argue for the move, comparing it to the country’s nuclear free movement.

That movement had also started small, but grown to a national movement with international clout, and the same needed to happen again, he said.

A failure to act would be akin to people who rushed to the beach to gather fish when a tsunami threatened, he said.

“We are looking at meters and meters of sea level rise. If we don’t act now . . . it will roll over us."

Others agreed, including Cr Kate Wilson, who declared she would “rather die trying than not try at all”.

Cr Christine Garey said she wanted to be able to look her own daughter in the eye after today’s vote “and know the decision and the vote I have made is the right one”.

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.”

However, there was laughter in the public gallery as Crs Vandervis, Whiley and Lord argued against the move.

Cr Vandervis said whether the scientific consensus on climate change was strong enough, and whether the council could do anything about it, were fair questions.

“I don’t believe we as a city council can do anything practical in that light.”

Cr Lord objected to the use of the word “emergency”, saying it was “emotive” and would alarm people. He saw no evidence to support claims sea level rise was accelerating.

Cr Whiley accepted the climate was changing, but not the process by which the issue was now being considered by the council.

He also challenged councillors who supported the move to immediately declare their intentions to make personal changes, from investing in solar to buying electric cars and sourcing food locally.

Cr David Benson-Pope said he was pleased to see the council’s “skeptics and deniers out themselves”, but urged other councillors to take action.

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


A packed public gallery, including people carrying signs and banners, was in attendance to hear today's debate.

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.

"The sea level is rising . . . the ice is melting and we need to do something, fast," one pupil told councillors.

Ms Shulzitski said atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were now at record levels, but greenhouse gas emissions were still increasing in Dunedin and across New Zealand "with no end in site".

Without action, the planet was on course to return to an "unlivable" climate, beginning with 2m of sea level rise by 2100.

That scenario would see sea levels again reaching George St in Dunedin, she said.

Ms Shulzitski said she was a mother and a geologist, and "all of these things scare me and make me very sad".

The council needed to lead efforts to drive the city towards a carbon-neutral future by 2030, she believed.

"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."




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Sorry I feel this is totally wrong, do these teachers really know what is going through children heads? Children of this age need to be children and not have to worry about the planet. Maybe in high school but not this young. Will these teachers now cause the children to have nightmares sleepless nights because they are scared, sure some children might be ok but not all will view it the same way.

These teachers and Head Masters need to be held accountable and investigated, not quite as bad as using civilians as human shields in war time.

Investigating headmasters? For running the Learning Module 'Civics. Engagement with Public Issues and Representation to City Hall'?

That's a little harsh, but not as harsh as the conditions these poor kids will face as the planet burns.

As the planet burns? Are you serious?
The sun burns. Earth will still be here when we are all gone, and it will do just fine as it has done for.millions of years. Stop using scare tactics about Armageddon to get what you want. Disgusting

Potocki d' Anti Nazi Resistance as soon as I drafted it I knew I'd get a reply from you. Nightimejohn Harsh not at all, from your comments I gather you are either a headmaster or walk around with a tin foil hat either way it is scare mongering and abusing these children, let them be children. The planet has been burning for millions of years the sun shines on us each day.

I agree completely. The manipulation of children in this way totally discusses me, as does the demeaning comments made about the councillors that voted against the motion. The hypocrisy regarding debate and peer respect, belittles their cause to emotional fear mongering.
If Cr Hawkins has been "hearing from“countless” people and organisations for years, calling for action", what has he been doing for the last six years! What he needs to understand is that people are tired of experiencing how our aging infastructure is failing but next to nothing gets done about it dispite him being on the Select Committees that 'guide' such items. Grandstanding around declarations does not fix anything! It's just smutching!
The ORC's waste of $10m, just in identifing a site for their new base, only to have it snatched away from them, is a good example of how fear of the future, tide up in bureaucracy does nothing but waste our hard earned rates money !!!!

"Head Masters?"-Principals! More women than men at primary level.

Yep - good point a typo

Rtn2Dun this couldn't be further from the truth. One of these children is mine and the kids came up with the idea of taking it to council. They are all incredibly passionate about the environment and are looking at ways of helping fix the problems not catastrophize them. They do not come home and worry they come home excited about how they can help. This is because of the way the teacher has taught them. She is the MOST incredibly positive teacher and we are grateful for her.

Suzie, I did say some children, not all. I'm sure the teacher is more than likely an awesome teacher, May be a better idea would be to start lower down the chain such as all the diesel trucks (R) trucks not truck picking up rubbish in Dunedin doing the same job on the same day where wheelie bins and one truck per suburb per day would work better. Pitch that ideas to the children and get Cull to listen and then maybe ask how may councillors bike or bus to work or do they all drive cars.

It would be good to see the council discuss the issue based on facts rather than the ideology of climate propaganda. In terms of sea evel rise the long-term record is from tide gauges spread around the world. The oldest records date back to the 1890s and the average rise for 225 tide gauges spread around the world is 1.48 mm per year.

In the 1990s, Australia set up a series of very accurate tide gauges all around Australia and on many Pacific Islands (BoM reports). These show that, for the majority of sites, the sea level rise since the mid-1990s was less than 2mm per year.

The Pacific Islands record shows, for instance, that the sea level in Tuvalu has hardly changed since 1992. As a result of the now-ending El Niño effect, the Tuvalu sea level is about 100 mm below the level in 1994-1997.

Research by Paul Kench, of the University of Auckland, has established that the area of most atolls is increasing because natural processes build up the islands.

Good on Andrew Whiley for not falling victim to the new psuedo-religion being pushed by the UN IPCC scam.

CO2 is essential to life it makes up 4% of the atmosphere. Only 4% of that comes from man-made emmissions. .0016

Shhhhh, don't use real facts and figures, the climate alarmists will crucify you for.proving their idiocies

I feel that Mr Cull mis-spoke. When he said "the cost to council" he actually meant "the cost to ratepayers."

Well it had to happen. More virtue signalling from the DCC. Bit of a joke when they can't even get traffic flowing smoothly through Dunedin. Just a lot of hot air.

MS Shulzitski, the problem, as you put it. Is people peddling lies. 'Back to George Street.... You're admitting it was that high? That means it.must've dropped...counter to your claims. And 2m by 2100? Geology has nothing to do with tide meters etc. Get back into your cave please

Agree completely with Eyes Wide Open , this is out and out BS at its best , when I moved out to Taieri in 98 ODT had an article
Stating that a 1 to 2 meter rise in sea level was expected in the next 30 to 50 years , its now 30 years on and guess what has happened ??
Stop trying to brainwash the kids with a hysterical overreaction and try getting some facts right.

A lot of deeply brainwashed people. Using naive children to push politics and manipulating well-meaning caring people to collectively indebt the city and country to the very central-banking system of debt-based "fiat currency". This specific economic system is the unspoken "elephant in the room" - it is the primary cause of enviro destruction by gross over-production to chase the ever-manipulated floating dollar and "economic growth".
C02 is less than a symptom but is being used as both diversion & political coercion in the name of saving planet. I recommend looking up "why big oil conquered the world". Have you been lied to before by think-tanks and governments via media? Lied to on grand scale? To endorse invasion and mass murder in specific oil-rich countries for example? You are being manipulated and used yet again.

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