Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Climate Change: Wellington fails


Last year, Wellington City Council declared a climate emergency and committed to reducing emissions by 43% by 2030, as an interim step towards a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. So how are they going to get there? According to their own plans, they're not:

Last year, Wellington City Council (WCC) announced a bold new series of targets to guide its path towards net zero emissions by 2050. The centrepiece was a pledge to reduce emissions by 43 percent (from 2001 levels) by the end of the decade and then continue to progressively reduce emissions from there.

More than a year later, on August 6, the council launched its implementation plan, a roadmap on how to actually achieve the 2030 target. No press release accompanied the debut of the plan - perhaps because it promises only a 14 percent reduction by 2030, able to be increased to 24 percent if central government curbs the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity and fosters greater uptake of electric vehicles.

Even with the aid of central government, however, WCC expects Wellington will emit 200,000 more tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in 2030 than it has promised.

Its the usual story of New Zealand climate change policy: bold targets followed by inadequate action. Politicians keep doing this, because we keep letting them get away with it. And meanwhile, the temperature keeps on rising. Another story on Newsroom today says that 1740 Wellington properties will have to be abandoned due to sea-level rise within 20 years (and will become uninsurable, unsellable, and valueless long before that). That's the price of these politicians' inaction, their preference for easy PR rather than doing the hard work of actual policy. As for how to change it, we have one real lever on politicians: throw the bums out! And that's clearly what Wellingtonians need to do to their entire council unless they step up and come up with a credible plan to meet their targets.

Meanwhile, Parliament will be declaring a climate emergency today. The parallels ought to be obvious.