ORC seeks public’s views on climate-action plan

A car idles at the lights in Queens Gardens, Dunedin. An Otago Regional Council emissions...
A car idles at the lights in Queens Gardens, Dunedin. An Otago Regional Council emissions reduction plan notes emissions in the region are primarily produced by agriculture, transport and stationary energy. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The Otago Regional Council has developed a suite of 10-year goals as it steps up action on climate change.

The goals, dealing both with reducing emissions and making the region more resilient, are spelled out in a draft strategic climate-action plan to be presented to councillors tomorrow.

If the plan is approved it will go out for four weeks of public consultation in August.

"The changing climate is already affecting how we work, and in response to these impacts we have a significant amount of climate change focused workstreams under way," the draft plan said. "We recognise that to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural wellbeing of the Otago community, we must be proactive and consider how we are addressing climate change across all our work programmes.

"Our vision is ambitious, and we cannot achieve this on our own. The climate mitigation and climate adaptation goals we have set define our role in contributing to our vision and form our toolbox for climate action."

Many of the goals were linked, demonstrating the council’s commitment to "working as a co-ordinated organisation".

The Otago Regional Emissions Inventory produced about five years ago said emissions in the region were mainly from agriculture, transport and stationary energy.

Following from that, in 2021, an Otago Climate Change Risk Assessment said the varied areas within the region, from the Southern Alps to tussock grasslands and the coast, would experience "vastly different changes".

The draft said the council would provide "reliable and relevant" information to councils, mana whenua and businesses to help them make informed decisions about how to cut emissions.

It would operate low-emissions public transport that was widely used by locals and visitors, work with mana whenua and others "to deliver cohesive climate mitigation action", and the council itself would operate as a low emissions organisation.

The draft plan would also commit the council to working with mana whenua to identify risks to their values and co-operate on Maori-led adaptation planning.

It would work with communities to be ready for and respond to climate-change related events.

The council would commit to supporting "the resilience of indigenous biodiversity" as well as managing the changing climate-related biodiversity threats.

"We know a certain level of temperature rise is already locked in, and we must, therefore, prepare for the climate-related impacts of this.

"We are already experiencing some of these impacts.

"Droughts are becoming more intense and water security is becoming an issue across the region.

"Meanwhile, rainfall intensity is increasing in some areas, creating higher risk of floods, which is compounded by sea-level and groundwater rise.

"The South Dunedin flooding event in 2015 has already demonstrated to us the potential devastation this can cause."

There is $650,000 over 10 years allocated in the draft 2024-34 long-term plan to begin implementing actions set out in the draft plan.

The plan would be re-evaluated every three years, it said.