Hurdles ahead as West Coast tackles climate change

Flooding on the West Coast after extreme rainfall. Photo: Twitter
Flooding on the West Coast after extreme rainfall. Photo: Twitter
The West Coast Regional Council - which famously demanded more proof that climate change was actually happening - now appears to accept it, but warns of great pain as the as the region adjusts.

In a submission to the Government's Zero Carbon Bill - which will eventually outlaw coal burning, including in the home and put pressure on farmers to reduce carbon emissions - the council says the region has little land to plant trees, and hydro schemes "do not fit well" with Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage.

It warns that people may be unable to heat their homes, and businesses could close.

In January, the regional council made national headlines when it asked for more scientific evidence to prove human-driven climate change was happening.

However, the council submission on the bill appears to accept climate change, while also pointing out the huge hurdles ahead.

It says people would have to stop using their fires, but may be unable to heat their homes using other methods, without financial support.

"Electricity costs for the West Coast are some of the highest in New Zealand. This may cause people to get sick and potentially trigger ongoing health issues for the same people."

West Coast hospitals used coal-fired boilers to heat buildings, triggering additional costs if they had to change away from coal.

Westland Milk Products also had coal boilers, while diesel and petroleum were used to operate machinery in primary industry.

Businesses may close down, causing substantial job losses. This could cause a chain reaction, and service industries such as machinery and equipment repair and maintenance may also close.

Coming on the back of mass job losses in coalmining, and restrictions on the use of public conservation land, the Government may encounter "considerable" local resistance.

There were also problems with the move to electric vehicles, the council pointing out insufficient numbers and location of recharging stations.

"Given that the average income on the West Coast is below the national average, many residents will have to wait until second-hand full electric cars come on the market at an affordable price."

The ability to plant more trees to soak up carbon was limited as just 16% of land was not in the conservation estate.

While there was plenty of water for hydro generation on the Coast, "under the current Conservation Minister's approach, use of these resources for renewable hydro electricity generation may be further restricted or prohibited".

The council said it supported the intent of the bill, but asked that it be amended to require social and economic impact assessments.

Speaking at the council meeting this week, Cr Allan Birchfield said he and fellow Cr Neal Clementson -- both connected with coalmining -- opposed the submissions, and Cr Birchfield said he did not believe carbon was the cause of problems.

Further, the Zero Carbon Bill would "ruin New Zealand's economy".

 

Comments

if we had a real labour government between greymouth and north of Westport areas would be mined for coal for local use and most sold overseas and power generation like other countries do.

Sounds to me that the council is simply pointing out the consequences of the proposed bill. Their economy will be stuffed !!!
More people will be forced to live on government handouts and less people will be feeding into the government coffers under its austerity measures.
Make no bones about it. The bill is a blueprint for the reduction of living standard of all New Zealanders, except for the elites, of course.

 

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