West Coast council rejects government climate change bill

by Kate Gudsell / 29 January, 2019
climate change

The West Coast Regional Council does not support the government's Zero Carbon Bill. Photo/RNZ/123RF

The West Coast Regional Council wants more scientific evidence to prove human-driven climate change is happening before it will commit to reducing emissions.

The council does not support the government's Zero Carbon Bill and is the only regional council in the country to reject it.

In its submission, the council said if West Coasters were to commit to emissions targets, "the evidence proving anthropogenic climate change must be presented and proven beyond reasonable doubt".

The council's planning, science and innovation manager Hadley Mills said there was too much uncertainty about the economic and social impact from the bill.

He said a lot more work needed to be done so they could understand how jobs and communities would be affected.

He said the council was not denying climate change but it was a struggle to understand it.

"We must be objective and base our decisions on science and that's why we want the science presented really simply; we don't have climate change experts on our staff so we just want everyone to understand it."

The council's stance did not impress Hector local Penny Madden, who said in her 20 years in the region the sea changed dramatically.

"I mean it's lapping right at my sea wall at high tide now and that's really close."

Ms Madden had no doubt this was the result of climate change and said the council's stance was irresponsible and disappointing, but not surprising.

Three cyclones in the last five years have damaged neighbouring houses.

Ms Madden said the council's submission did not represent their views.

The submission went through a council meeting and was signed off by regional councils.

RNZ attempted to contact all seven representatives. One councillor, Stuart Challenger, said he was the sole elected voice opposing the council's submission and that the council needed to start acting on climate change.

Councillor and miner Allan Birchfield said the bill and climate change was a fraud and said it would end up costing locals.

He said the government needed to pay attention to what had happened in France with the so-called yellow jackets, the protesters who wreaked havoc in Paris, demonstrations sparked by rising fuel prices.

New Zealand's representative on the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Brownyn Hayward, said the community should not be written off as "rednecks" who did not understand the issue.

The council submitted that it had limited ability to contribute to reduce carbon levels through tree planting as only 16 percent of its land was not part of the conservation estate.

It also said it would be challenging for the region to move to a fully electric vehicles, because of the need to charge batteries.

Dr Hayward said if New Zealand wanted to avoid a yellow jacket situation then it needed to understand what was hurting smaller communities.

"It's thinking about how these communities can be really supported in innovative ways, rather than just writing it off as a kind of redneck response.

"It's really important that we think carefully about this because we don't want to end up like America or France with these complete cultural divisions between communities."

Dr Hayward said the West Coast should be a flag on how New Zealand made the transition to a lower carbon economy.

The Zero Carbon Bill should be up before the government's Select Committee next month.

This article was first published on Radio NZ.

Latest

The best thing to come from the Black Caps' defeat
108621 2019-07-20 00:00:00Z Sport

The best thing to come from the Black Caps' defeat…

by Paul Thomas

For New Zealanders, the Cricket World Cup final was a brutal reminder of sport’s great paradox. But there's hope on the horizon.

Read more
What New Zealand can do about the militarisation of space
108498 2019-07-20 00:00:00Z Tech

What New Zealand can do about the militarisation o…

by Duncan Steel

We may decry the notion, but the hostile use of space is creeping into the plans of various countries.

Read more
Five technologies from the space race that we take for granted
108506 2019-07-20 00:00:00Z Tech

Five technologies from the space race that we take…

by Peter Griffin

If US$154 billion to land 12 men on the Moon seems excessive, consider the things we use every day that had their roots in a Nasa lab.

Read more
Top investigator urges police to speak up about wrongful convictions
108539 2019-07-19 00:00:00Z Crime

Top investigator urges police to speak up about wr…

by Mike White

Mike White talks to investigator Tim McKinnel, who says police often turn a blind eye to possible corruption out of a misplaced sense of loyalty.

Read more
Jacinda Ardern to focus on Australia deportations in talks with Scott Morrison
108570 2019-07-19 00:00:00Z Politics

Jacinda Ardern to focus on Australia deportations…

by Craig McCulloch

PM Jacinda Ardern has doubled down on her criticism of Australia's deportation policy as "corrosive", ahead of her meeting with Scott Morrison.

Read more
How closed adoption robbed Māori children of their identity
108572 2019-07-19 00:00:00Z Social issues

How closed adoption robbed Māori children of their…

by Te Aniwa Hurihanganui

Te Aniwa Hurihanganui looks at the outdated Adoption Act and its impact on Māori who grew up desperate to reconnect.

Read more
The new robotic surgery aiding vaginal mesh removal
108377 2019-07-19 00:00:00Z Health

The new robotic surgery aiding vaginal mesh remova…

by Ruth Nichol

Women with complications caused by deeply embedded vaginal mesh are being helped by a pioneering surgical technique.

Read more
A beautiful mind: What people with Alzheimer's can teach us
108544 2019-07-19 00:00:00Z Health

A beautiful mind: What people with Alzheimer's can…

by Fergus Riley

North Auckland farmer Fergus Riley has uncovered many important lessons in caring for his father Peter, who has Alzheimer’s.

Read more