Climate action priority: LGNZ

Climate change, rising sea levels and the possibility of more extreme weather events are...
Calling for action on climate change has been a consistent refrain from local authorities. Photo by Dan Hutchinson

Local Government New Zealand has reiterated its concerns about the impact of climate change, saying the incoming government needs to provide a clear statement on responsibilities for adapting to higher temperatures, rising sea levels and more violent storms.

Dave Cull
Dave Cull
The body representing New Zealand’s 78 local, regional, and unitary authorities says its members ‘‘are at the front line of climate change adaptation and have a role to play in mitigation’’ but central government needs to prioritise a plan for a low carbon and resilient New Zealand, including fiscal responsibility.

‘‘There is no more time for inaction. We need whoever is in government after 23 September to set some firm goals and strategies for both mitigating and adapting to climate change,’’ new LGNZ president and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said.

‘‘The incredible storms seen in Texas and the Caribbean in recent weeks should be taken as a warning to us all. Natural hazards and climate change impacts pose an unprecedented threat to our natural and built environment.’’

Calling for action on climate change has been a consistent refrain from local authorities.

At the LGNZ conference in July, 39 mayors called for an ambitious central government plan to prepare for impacts such rising sea levels.

The briefing in Wellington also included an update from the Local Government Funding Authority, which sells bonds on behalf of local authorities.

In the year ended June 30, the LGFA accounted for 83% of all council borrowing.

Total LGFA lending to the sector stood at $8.1 billion as at September 4, up $464 million from May.

Of that, $303 million was short-term lending to 23 councils and $7.76 billion was longterm and lent to 52 councils, it said.

Of investors in LGFA bonds, those based offshore rose 1.4% in the past three months to 31.1%, ranking second after banks who owned an unchanged 34.2% and domestic institutional investors with 30.7%, down 1.4%.

LGFA chairman Craig Stobo said growth in offshore investors ‘‘defies the trend’’ for central government debt in New Zealand and Australia and was a sign of the positive sentiment towards local authorities and the funding body.

A consolidated balance sheet of LGFA members, as at June 2016 showed a negative net operating balance of $72 million as operating income of $7.12 billion was just eclipsed by $7.19 billion of operating expenses.

The largest expense was the purchase of good and services at $2.7 billion, which reflected the extent to which councils are outsourcing. 

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