Climate change declaration 'politically charged' – Thames-Coromandel mayor

by Kate Gudsell / 20 February, 2019
State Highway 25 Thames Coast Road after coastal flooding in January 2018. Photo: Waikato Police

State Highway 25 Thames Coast Road after coastal flooding in January 2018. Photo: Waikato Police

A push to get local authorities to sign up to a declaration on climate change is "politically charged and driven", the Thames-Coromandel mayor says.

Fifty-five councils have signed up to the Local Government Leaders' Climate Change Declaration. It states there is an urgent need to address the threats of climate change.

It states councils will commit to plans to reduce greenhouse gases, promote walking, public transport, increase resource efficiency, and commit to renewable energy and electric vehicles.

Yesterday members of the public presented to the Thames Coromandel District Council meeting, urging it to sign up to the declaration. It will be voted on by councillors at a later meeting.

However, mayor Sandra Goudie said she did not support it and most other councillors were cautious.

It would be irresponsible for the declaration to be signed because the council did not know what it would be committing ratepayers to, she said.

"It's got statements which bind you to outcomes that you've got no idea of, so I wouldn't sign a contract without knowing specifications."

But she said the council was being proactive in terms of ensuring the community was protected and resilient in its vulnerable coastal areas.

Mrs Goudie refused to confirm whether she believed climate change was happening, saying she did not have an obligation to tell ratepayers what her opinion was.

Mrs Goudie said she was not obliged to reveal her stance on climate change because "I think it's incredibly highly politically charged and driven and I don't think that makes for a good basis for sound judgment".

When asked to clarify what was politically driven, Mrs Goudie said she was referring to the campaign to sign the declaration. She then declined to answer any further questions.

There are 23 local authorities which have not signed up to the declaration.

Last month, RNZ revealed the West Coast Regional Council wanted more evidence to prove that climate change was happening before it would commit to reducing emissions.

This article was first published on Radio NZ.

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