Council adopts roadmap to carbon neutrality in region

The day after approving a climate change action plan, the Queenstown Lakes District Council began measuring its own carbon emissions.

The plan, released for consultation last June, aims to help the district adapt to, and reduce the effects of the changing climate.

A draft plan received 125 submissions, 121 of which were in favour of taking action.

"This is the start of a very substantial journey ahead," council strategy and development manager Michelle Morss said at a council meeting last week.

This was a "living document" that would be reviewed annually, she said.

"This is not going to be an endless series of bureaucratic planning, this is going to be an action plan."

The plan aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 across the district.

Wanaka resident, and founder of environmental charitable trust One New Zealand, Monique Kelly, said the plan was the first "little break" in building a low emissions economy in the region.

"It’s going to mean some really profound changes, it’s going to mean a massive behaviour shift from all of us, and rethinking how we do this, how we work, how we govern and how we behave as individuals," Ms Kelly said.

Four people criticised aspects of the plan during the meeting’s public forum.

Extinction Rebellion member Zella Downing, of Hawea Flat, told the Otago Daily Times after the meeting the plan did not have any teeth.

"I know there’s a lot of really good people that have put a lot of sincere effort into it, but at the same time they’re making this action plan, they’re planning to enlarge the airport."

Adaptation needed more of a focus of "doing less", she said.

"Not having more houses, not getting more tourists; sometimes it’s the things you don’t do rather than the things that you do do."

Part problem of addressing climate change was that taking action was "scary", she said.

"It’s scary to say we’re not going to grow any more ... our capitalist society demands us to grow."

Councillor Heath Copland said although speakers at the public forum had focused on what was not in the plan, it was a starting point, and the actions were a "moving target" that would be upgraded over time.

Deputy mayor Calum MacLeod said that by agreeing to the plan, the council was also agreeing to fund it into the future.

"That includes stuff that will be reasonably unpopular — like charging for water, for waste," Mr Macleod said.

Cr Quentin Smith said the plan would have big implications for the district’s tourism, building and ski sectors, both in terms of their contribution to climate change and the effects of climate change on them.

The council is now advertising for a new climate change role to oversee the plan.


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