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Dunedin is at an ''economic crossroads'' and must choose between a clean, green future and the search for oil and gas, environmental advocates say.
The view was presented by representatives of two groups, the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust and Transition Valley 473, at yesterday's draft annual plan hearing.
Scott Willis, of the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust, said the council faced a choice between greener, renewable energy, and the ''brown-tech pathway'' of non-renewable energy.
He cautioned against pursuing the short-term economic benefits that came from ''brown-tech'' because of the climate risks they posed.
Instead, he urged the council to lead the way in embracing clean, green technology.
''I would hope all of you sitting at the table think about what you are leaving for the future ... and aim for a more sustainable future,'' he said.
He warned the impact of climate change was already ''very alarming'', and the council needed to work more closely with the Otago Regional Council and budget for climate change initiatives.
In particular, the council should allocate $50,000 to develop a new energy plan that emphasised the development of renewable energy generation in Dunedin, he said.
Earlier, Philippa Jamieson, of Transition Valley 473, said the council should be encouraging people to reduce their fossil fuel use, and switch to public transport - and other green options - instead.
She was concerned about deep-sea oil drilling and plans for oil and gas exploration off the Otago coast, saying the risks outweighed the benefits.
The potential cost of cleaning up an oil spill, coupled with the costs climate change would impose on the council, were concerning, she said.