The more we do to cut carbon emissions and build resilience now, the better off we’ll be in the future. That’s the driving force behind Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s revised Climate Change Action Plan which was adopted today.
Strategy and Policy Committee Chair Paula Thompson says there’s no more business as usual or ignoring weather-related events like the recent flooding in the South Island.
“Climate change is the most significant environmental issue this region, and the world, is facing. As a Regional Council, almost all of our day-to-day work is factoring in climate change. Whether we’re reinforcing stop banks or planting sand dunes or investing in electric buses to cut carbon emissions. Alongside this work, we’ve chosen to fund an additional 19 projects that specifically focus on climate change,” she says.
“As a council we’re constantly looking ahead to the challenges we’re likely to face and looking at what we can do about them. These are big and sometimes costly decisions and it’s important we have good information to back them up. You can’t do anything about what you don’t know and that is why some of the projects we’re funding are focused around improving our understanding of regional risks,” she says.
Councillor Thompson says that there is an increased focus on transport emission reduction projects through the Long Term Plan which is also reflected in the action plan.
“Bus decarbonisation will support delivery of emission reductions from public transport, alongside other initiatives that have a stronger focus on the travel choices people make, such as the Carless Wednesday Challenge and the Travel Demand Management and Behaviour Change programme,” she says.
In 2019, the Government passed the Zero Carbon Act which provides a national framework for action on climate change adaptation and mitigation and includes a target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Regional Council’s Action Plan includes a broad range of projects which focuses on what we need to do within the Bay of Plenty as part of this national picture.
Councillor Thompson says whilst the big projects are important, individual action is also essential, particularly around choosing ways in which we can live more lightly on the planet and produce less emissions.
“How you get to work, the items you buy that come wrapped in plastic, your lifestyle choices - these all add up to your individual carbon footprint. Every act matters,” she says.
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Coast Care sand dune planting day - sand dunes provide natural protection from coastal hazards and climate change.
Stairs at Waihi Beach during a 2020 weather event.
Solar panels from the roof of our Whakatane office.