Sea level rise recommendations welcomed by Council

19 November 2015

Wellington City Council has welcomed the report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, about the challenges facing New Zealand due to sea level rise.

Boats in Island Bay

Boats in Island Bay

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says Council agrees with the approach taken by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) to work with urgency on reducing green-house gas emissions while taking time to thoroughly plan and prepare for a rise in the sea level.

Dr Wright’s report recommends more support for councils from Central Government, and advocates taking the time to plan carefully, a stance the Council has already adopted.

 “Our work is focused on infrastructure, emissions and urban planning,” she says.

“Wellington City Council is a member of the global “100 Resilient Cities” where ideas and information about the best ways to respond to climate changes and other stress and acute shocks ahead is shared.

“The new Petone to Ngauranga shared path on reclamation to be built on the seaward side of the existing rail tracks and SH2, is a good resilience decision,” she says.

Mayor Wade-Brown noted that sea level rise is only one consequence of climate change. “We can also expect increased storms, severe rainfall, ocean acidification, and new disease vectors,” she says.

Portfolio Leader for Climate Change, Cr David Lee, says the Council approaches everything in terms of a broader resilience framework.

“For sea level rise specifically, we are working on a number of initiatives to deal with our increasingly dynamic coastlines,” he says.

Council’s new Chief Resilience Officer, Mike Mendonça, says the Commissioner’s report is an opportunity to engage in discussion on sea level rise.

 “We aren’t alone in worrying about sea level rise and the same discussion is happening around the globe,” he says.

“Sea level rise can’t be wished away – we need to use the science to think and talk about how we might adapt to a changing environment.”

“It is important to have good science, sound understanding of the problem, and knowledge of local conditions, to enable informed debate within the community,” he says.

Council is continuing to take significant steps to reduce emissions

Wellington has large-scale wind farms and the highest rates of walking and public transport commuting in Australia/New Zealand. Council has also supported the insulation of thousands of homes.

Mayor Wade-Brown says while emissions are trending downwards, there is more to do be done and planned future work will be discussed during consultation on the next Climate Change Action Plan.