Wellington in the race to reach zero carbon

15 April 2019

Wellington City Council is seeking feedback on Te Atakura – First to Zero: its blueprint for a zero carbon capital city, which was released today.

Wellington City Council is seeking feedback on Te Atakura – First to Zero

The blueprint outlines key activities relating to transport, building energy, advocacy and other areas to reduce emissions that cause climate change. It balances activities that reduce emissions, like using electric cars, with others that absorb them, like planting trees, to reach its goal of zero carbon in Wellington city. It also outlines a plan for the Council itself to reach zero carbon.

Mayor Justin Lester says this is the perfect time to be talking about how Wellington can lead the way to a zero carbon future.

“The city is already preparing for a further 80,000 more people to make Wellington their home and the Council’s Planning for Growth consultation will guide where and how the city should grow.

“Te Atakura – First to Zero will help shape the Council’s view of what the city needs to look like in the future. Everything is connected,” says Mayor Lester.

Wellington City Council’s Climate Change Portfolio lead, Councillor David Lee, says the conversation with the public is a chance to hear a range of views on how to move to a zero carbon goal.

“Science is telling us our current low-carbon plan isn’t ambitious enough. We need to do more, and we need to do it faster,” says Councillor Lee.

“If we want to keep temperatures within the climate ‘safe zone’ we need to act more quickly to lower our carbon emissions by about half within 11 years, and to zero as soon as possible.”

The Council’s plan is ambitious and it needs to know it has the support of Wellingtonians to take strong, fast action.

Councillor Lee believes choosing not to act is not an option. A sea level rise of 1.4m could result in $7 billion in property damage, which is about 10% of the city’s property value. It could also compromise a quarter of the rates the Council takes in, making it difficult to fund responses to the challenge. 

It’s not all doom and gloom though. The Council’s Sustainability Manager, Tom Pettit, believes Wellington could benefit significantly by leading initiatives to achieve zero emissions. In addition, more active forms of transport and higher standard homes could save money for Wellingtonians and present an appealing future for other reasons, particularly health benefits.

He believes Wellington can help reduce climate change and that every contribution makes a difference.

“We may feel small, but 80% of the world’s population lives in places with fewer than a million people. It’s small, courageous cities like Wellington that can lead the way to a zero carbon future,” says Tom.

Wellington City Council is asking for your vision of what a zero carbon capital would look like, and how quickly we should address it.

The consultation and feedback form can be found at zerocarboncapital.nz. Feedback closes on Friday 10 May 2019 at 5pm.