08 July 2016

Councillors and staff from Bay of Plenty Regional, Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty District Councils are forming a united front to tackle community concerns about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council hosted a meeting last month where the Tauranga Carbon Reduction Group briefed councillors and staff from the three local government bodies. The briefing was followed by discussion on practical, local options for tackling climate change and reducing carbon emissions. The discussion outcomes have been referred to each council for further consideration along with a proposal to establish a collaborative carbon reduction initiative between community and councils.

Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor Paula Thompson chaired the meeting. She said it was clear to everyone that making changes in their own organisations would be a great way to test carbon reduction initiatives and set an example for others in the community.

“The report released by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment last week emphasised that climate change is by far the most serious environmental issue we face. Dr Jan Wright highlighted that urban areas are key to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, particularly those from transport and that we must plan and develop our cities so that they are low-carbon as well as affordable.

All three councils have existing policies and planning provisions in place to manage climate change and associated natural hazard risks to our communities and these are well aligned through Smartgrowth initiatives. We’re now looking at what we can do to better measure and reduce our carbon emissions and make a positive difference for the environment, business and people,” said Councillor Thompson.

”This is tremendous progress on an issue that was generally avoided only a couple of years ago,” said Gray Southon, Coordinator of the Tauranga Carbon Reduction Group.

“The global agreement on climate change in Paris last December means that it cannot be ignored any further,” he said.

First tasks for a collaborative council carbon reduction group would be to measure and monitor local carbon emissions and progress practical, local initiatives across three focus areas; council emissions reduction plans, sustainability criteria for investment, and community education.