Pupils call for climate declaration

St Gerard's School pupils (from left) Lydia Sanders (13), Imojen Constable (13), Olivia Dyson (12...
St Gerard's School pupils (from left) Lydia Sanders (13), Imojen Constable (13), Olivia Dyson (12), Angus Hanning (12), and Cait Shea (12) make a presentation to the Central Otago District Council asking councillors to declare a climate emergency. Photo: Pam Jones
Central Otago district councillors will consider whether to declare a climate emergency after getting a nudge from Alexandra school children.

Pupils from St Gerard's School attended this week's council meeting and said there was much elected representatives could do to mitigate climate change.

Angus Hanning said possibilities included establishing a native tree planting programme; encouraging people to walk, bike or scooter more by installing more zebra crossings, bike lanes and pathways; and building more electric car charging stations. The council could also lobby businesses and national, regional and local government for change.

Lydia Sanders said actions St Gerard's School was taking to prevent climate change included establishing an organic vegetable garden, planting native trees and doing a school waste audit to reduce its plastic use. Pupils had also undertaken projects monitoring Central Otago rivers.

The St Gerard's pupils have asked the council to declare a climate emergency, and said action from everybody was needed now to avert a crisis.

Mayor Tim Cadogan commended the pupils.

"[It is] easily one of the best presentations I've seen in my three years around the council table."

He would ask council staff to prepare a report about the pupils' suggestions, including their request for the council to declare a climate emergency, and it would discuss the matter formally at its September 25 meeting.

The Dunedin City Council has already declared a climate emergency, although the Otago Regional Council has decided not to.

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