Wellington City Energises Smart Climate Action

16 May 2013

The Wellington City Council has today strengthened its response to climate change through the development of a more comprehensive and integrated Climate Change Action Plan.

At today’s Strategy and Policy Committee, council members unanimously agreed to extend successful measures of Wellington’s award-winning 2010 Action Plan for another two years and integrate new initiatives into the programme.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the report was necessary. “Cities rather than countries are taking the lead on climate change issues,” she said. “We need to take a climate change lens to all of Council’s activities and programmes.

“Our leadership will act as a catalyst for wider community and business action. Council can provide economies of scale and work closely with the business sector in particular, bringing costs down for items such as photo-voltaics and green building supplies and also encouraging better business cases for organisations to incorporate climate-friendly measures.”

Mayor Wade-Brown said that the comprehensive approach was timely. “The past week marked a deeply concerning climate milestone: Average daily atmospheric CO2 concentrations have exceeded 400 ppm for the first time in at least three million years. Global and local consequences include droughts, storms and real pressure on human livelihoods.

“The Council has taken steps to reduce emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change. They include practical steps that appeal to households like increased funding for energy savings saw almost a thousand energy assessments and four hundred retrofits since August 2011. Our own social housing insulation has made a big difference too.

“Based on the best available information, as of 2010 the city’s emissions had roughly stabilised at 2001 levels. This shows we are on the path to a lower-carbon economy since both  GDP and population have grown, by 29 percent  and 20 percent respectively.

“Reaching the 2020 target of a 30 percent emission reduction below 2001 levels will require a further step change.”

Additions to the 2013 Action Plan include the Smart Energy Capital initiative proposed in the city’s draft Annual Plan 2013/14,  a refresh of the Wellington Transport Strategy, participation in the UN-Habitat City Resilience Profiling Programme and UNISDR Making Cities Resilient Campaign, and research partnerships and community engagement being undertaken through the Council’s Our Living City work programme.

“We will work with our communities to find adaptive solutions to coastal erosion rather than impose limits in a top-down fashion,” said the Mayor.

“Already the draft Smart Energy Capital initiative has found potential business partnerships to reduce emissions at business, school and households. Wellington must combine energy innovation and emission reductions with economic development through partnerships. 

“The Council would provide matching funding of $250,000 per year for two years for priority energy initiatives,” said Mayor Wade-Brown

Updated greenhouse gas inventories and projections and a new stakeholder engagement process will help identify options for meeting the city’s climate change goals that also deliver other social, economic and environmental benefits.

“We have a bold vision for Wellington’s ongoing development as New Zealand’s Smart Capital, and smart climate action is integral to this,” said the Mayor.