Climate Karanga Marlborough Submission on the Climate Commission Draft Advice for Consultation.
1. Climate Karanga Marlborough is a grass-roots incorporated society with 112 members. Our mission is to bring to the people of Marlborough the realities of climate breakdown and educate how best to respond.
2. We wish to acknowledge the importance and urgency of this Report, the detailed and varied work that has gone into it and the openness of its presentation. We submit that we are generally in support of the Commission’s many recommendations.
3. We submit that the report, as it stands, is too long and at times technologically and politically too daunting to engage the submissions of a significantly large and representative proportion of New Zealanders. The Executive Summary, whilst making vital points about the need to increase the speed of change, the importance of an “equitable transition” and the need for a “cohesive strategy”, is an uneasy combination of sketchy explanation and technical information.
The Climate and Biodiversity Crises
4. We sadly acknowledge the inability of the human race to see its place in the web of life. There is no doubt that, because we have lost sight of our place within the greater web of life, humans are destroying our only home. Too often self-centredness and a sense of entitlement to nature’s resources dominate our decisions. Global warming is but one manifestation of these human traits. Biodiversity loss and widespread pollution and desecration of the natural world are evident for all to see. We accept there is no easy way forward to deal with this dilemma, but are also in no doubt that if we do not succeed, the future for our descendants will indeed be grim. Humanity has dug this deep hole we are now in and finding our way out is not going to be simple.
5. There are some members of our race largely from various indigenous groupings, including Maori, who have managed to retain an understanding of our place in the web of life. This knowledge has been developed over millennia. Unfortunately, those who hold the political and economic power largely do not listen to their advice and wisdom. It is encouraging to see a recognition in the Report of the need to incorporate the values Maori espouse. Quoting the Report:
“We have considered how policies could support kotahitanga, manaakitanga, tikanga and whanaungatanga. As the Government develops its plan to reduce emissions, it also needs to consider how actions will align with these values. Partnership with iwi/Māori at every stage of the policy development process will be critical to support this.”
6. We are faced with an existential crisis because the prevailing economic system requires continuous growth on a finite planet, encourages huge amounts of waste and treats many of the amazing resources that nature provides for sustaining life as expendable and of little value. We have our priorities completely wrong! So, incorporating the above mentioned values in a way that is meaningful requires a major overhaul of our societal operating system. We cannot pretend we are listening to the wisdom of those who still have this understanding and carry on with the “Growth” imperative at the same time.
7. We wish to encourage the Commission to be honest and open about the nature of the challenges we face. The recent Dasgupta Review: the Economics of Biodiversity, commissioned by the UK government and released around the same time as the Commission’s Report in NZ, highlights many alarming facts including:
“in little more than two decades, between 1992 and 2014, there was a 40% fall in the stock of natural capital per person. That is the water we drink, the air we breathe, the soil we grow food in, and all living things shared among the global population.”
8. We have politicians in NZ who are happy to state publicly that:
“It is imperative that the Government does not meddle with the freedoms of New Zealanders and finds solutions to achieving net zero carbon emissions using effective and rational policy.”
This statement encapsulates the issue we are faced with. Turn this around and it is in effect saying solutions to achieving net zero carbon that impinge on our present so-called “freedoms” are not acceptable.
9. The Commission must appeal to all New Zealanders and encourage them to give up or drastically change many aspects of their current ways of living to help create the possibility of leaving a liveable planet for our grandchildren. We need to stop putting our own needs first and think not only of those still to come but more importantly of maintaining a viable web of life. Without it we are finished.
10. We would wish to strengthen the arm of the Commission in encouraging politicians and our Government, in particular, to recognise and acknowledge the damage we have continued to do to our environment, to our Motu, and to take immediate action to begin to reverse it. We hope that this will be part of a world-wide effort and that New Zealanders can seize the opportunity to take a lead in that effort, as we have done in combatting the effects of the Corona virus. – In fact, we recognise the advent of the Corona virus as a consequence of human depradations on our planet.
Nature as an Economic Asset
11. We recommend that the Commission refer to findings of The Dasgupta Review: the Economics of Biodiversity as potentially providing a way to put biodiversity and the environment into our economic thinking. Centring on the dynamic power, interconnectedness and intrinsic worth of biodiversity, local and global, the Review considers climate disruption as one of the consequences of the failure of modern economics, global business and individuals to account for natural capital, that is to say the air we breathe, the waters we drink and take food from, and the earth that sustains us and all the species on which the health of natural ecosystems depends. Biodiversity is essential to all ecosystems as an enabling asset, just as our own skills and aptitudes enable the value of our labour. In the last 400 years we have taken our environment for granted, given it no accounting value, subject to whatever we demand of it, whenever.
12. The Review has developed a unified framework for the economics of diversity. “The grammar we have developed enables economics to serve our values, not direct them.” (p 487) “Correct economic reasoning is entangled with our values. Biodiversity does not only have instrumental value, it also has existence and intrinsic worth. ... To detach Nature from economic reasoning is to imply that we consider ourselves to be external to Nature. The fault is not in economics; it lies in the way we have chosen to practise it.” (p 498)
13. There is a paradox that modern humans seems unable to save themselves simply by having the knowledge that we are destroying ourselves by destroying the web of life. We still seem to need some monetary or market incentive to change. Unfortunately, a market economy, historically based upon natural resource exploitation, remains the devil we know and trust.
14. Public awareness of the Climate Emergency appears minimal, at this stage, yet it has the potential to help decrease emissions from personal actions and cement political will to endure the changes ahead. The Commission has suggested awareness campaigns, such as the TV road safety ad campaign by NZ Police. We submit that, given that the government has declared a climate emergency, it needs to follow through with a public awareness campaign appropriate for an emergency, along the lines of the ongoing Covid-19 awareness campaign. This campaign might include regular updates of important climate parameters, such as global average air and ocean temperature, CO2 & methane concentrations, trends in sea ice, ocean pH and scientific research findings on climate related biodiversity and environmental changes.
15. We submit that the Commission recommend to government that it develop and promote an awareness campaign to help New Zealanders adapt climate-friendly habits in their daily lives, as one would expect in a national emergency. In particular, we submit that the campaign should be presented in a way for schools and other educational institutions to put before young people of all ages. – As the Report points out, these are the people who will deal with the changes their elders do or do not make now.
16. One critical issue we believe the Commission needs to face is that of continued energy availability. We need to accept the reality that, as we phase out fossil fuels, we are highly likely to have less overall energy available to us. It is not realistic to continue our planning as if we’re going to be able to continue meeting our extravagant energy needs unheeded, by just changing to renewable sources for that energy.
17. To date the ETS has demonstrably failed in reducing our emissions. We understand the cap that has now been introduced is expected to improve outcomes but there still appear to be shortcomings. We note in the Report on page 132 -
“The Government has recognised that the regulatory framework governing conduct in the NZ ETS market is patchy and incomplete. It has established a work programme to address the lack of good governance and associated risks, which include insider trading, market manipulation, false or misleading advice to participants, potential lack of transparency and oversight of trades in the secondary market, money laundering, credit and counter-party risks and conflicts of interest.”
The Commission appears to be saying the ETS, as it stands is not fit for purpose and, on page 133, that under the present governance arrangements “some [market] risks are potentially catastrophic for the scheme’s effectiveness..”
18. To highlight our concern about continued energy availability we wish to quote from a recent paper titled “The Political Economy of Deep Decarbonization: Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs) for Energy Descent Futures”. A full copy is available here -
“Much mainstream energy and sustainability discourse is based on a series of highly optimistic assumptions about future energy supply in a carbon-constrained world. The improbability of conditions aligning such that all necessary assumptions are borne out implies that the energy futures ahead will likely diverge significantly from those envisaged within this established discourse. This has potentially profound implications. The availability of energy in the right forms at sufficient rates is the lifeblood of any particular form of social organisation. Energy-related factors are fundamental to how we shape our societies and pursue our goals, yet it seems most individuals and societies are making plans based on precarious expectations.”
And - “...we appreciate the psychological drivers for denying the prospect of energy descent and trusting instead in a cornucopian or techno-optimistic worldview. It is less confronting to human identities and ways of life to believe that technology and markets can solve social and environmental problems without needing to rethink the underpinning structures that give rise to those problems.”
And - “All human societies exist interdependently with natural systems that are ultimately beyond human control. It is far preferable, we contend, that societies retain the greatest degree of agency possible in getting to grips with the dilemma of fossil fuel dependence. The alternative is to have our futures dictated to us by breakdown in natural systems that are beyond our capacity to control.”
19. The Report provides no guidance to the government on the reduction of nitrous oxide emissions. It appears to take the position of the IPCC, that nitrous oxide emissions are a necessary part of agriculture and should be left to decrease simply through ongoing farming efficiency gains. This may be the IPCC view, which has a whole-world perspective, but it need not be the view here in New Zealand.
20. Most nitrous oxide emissions in New Zealand primarily originate from high-nitrogen pastoral farming practices – the use of nitrogen fertilisers and nitrogen-rich urine from cattle. The discussion of nitrous oxide in Evidence Chapter 4c points out a number of low-nitrogen alternatives to these practices, including ongoing pastoral farming practices where nitrogen fertiliser is not used at all. While the world may need nitrogen fertilisers to feed itself, it is clear that this isn’t the case here.
21. Nitrous oxide emissions are not an insignificant part of our total emissions. They make up 16% of the nation’s long-lived greenhouse gases in the 2022-2025 proposed emissions budget. And, due to the “light-touch” treatment in later emissions reductions, they rise to 22% of long-lived gases by the 2031-2035 budget.
22. Since nitrous oxide is not part of the NZ Emission Trading Scheme, there is, at present, no market mechanism to limit these emissions. The only control is based upon water quality considerations. We appear to be at the mercy of other pollution control laws and the good faith of the farming sector to take steps to limit these emissions.
23. Further, the lack of guidance on nitrous oxide emissions reductions:
1) Represents an economic injustice in emissions reductions efforts between New Zealand’s business sectors. The lack of a tax on
nitrogen fertiliser, while the rest of New Zealand pays an ETS tax on carbon emissions, represents an unfair “pass” on long-lived
GHG for the farming sector.
2) Ignores guardianship and sustainable principles, given the existing level of nitrate pollution to New Zealand’s rivers and lakes. We
simply cannot expect to keep spreading fertiliser on our lands indefinitely without damaging ecosystems. We must ultimately move
to sustainable, zero pollution farming practices.
3) Being primarily an export industry, New Zealand’s farming sector will likely be exposed to international carbon tariffs at some point.
These tariffs will increasing become a tool for nations to protect their domestic farming industries. New Zealand farming can stay
ahead of these tariffs only by innovating and adopting low emissions practices now.
24. We feel it is imperative that the Climate Commission provide some type of policy or market guidance to the government on ways to limit nitrous oxide emissions. A fee-rebate tax system on nitrogen fertiliser, for example, would use market forces to reduce and refine the use of nitrogen fertiliser, with the proceeds returned to support farmer education and R&D on low-nitrogen farming techniques.
A Stretch Goal to meet the Paris NDC
25. The Climate Commission has done an admirable job of assembling a set of recommendations to government on how to reduce GHG emissions sufficiently to meet the goals of the Zero Carbon Act.
26. It points out, however, that these recommendations will not be sufficient to meet the nation’s NDC made for the 2015 Paris Agreement – a 30% drop from 2005 emissions levels by 2030. The recommendation to address this shortfall is to simply purchase overseas emissions credits, with notes that other countries, such as Switzerland, are already doing this.
27. It is important to recognise, however, that international emissions credits aren’t necessarily a good thing.
1) By their nature, overseas credits are like foreign aid, only with a downstream cost, in that they rob the source country of the
ability to claim those emissions reductions for itself. The government of the time might be happy to sell the credits now because
they won’t be around when their country’s emissions reduction NDC comes due.
2) While some of these credits represent actual sequestration of carbon emissions, through forestry, for example, others are simply
programs to avoid future emissions in continued economic development. These programs might be approved by the UNFCCC, but
experience shows that relatively few foreign aid projects actually achieve what they set out to do. As a consequence, there is the risk
that many of these credits will end up being nothing but hot air, as we have seen with the Ukrainian and Russian credits NZ
companies bought last decade.
3) The rich country – poor country dynamics involved in most international emissions credits transactions creates a new kind of
colonialism. The poor seller needs to meet the requirements of the rich buyer, losing control of that portion of their economy and
perhaps their land. As a rich nation, we should be helping poor nations reduce their emissions without strings attached, not using
them to meet our international commitments.
4) Lastly, the overseas credits will cost us foreign exchange, which is important to our balance of payments and currency stability. For
the same amount of money, it would be better to meet these obligations domestically, paid for in NZ dollars.
28. There is another option – that of a “stretch goal” for the country that would meet this emissions target, in case parliament wishes to try to meet the target with minimal use of overseas credits. What more could the country do to meet this target? Where are opportunities for further emissions reductions by 2030?
29. In that most of the overseas credits that the government might purchase would be of the form of carbon offsets, either through forestry or “green” developments, it is worth noting some of the carbon offset opportunities here in NZ. Motu Economic and Public Policy Research lists a number of these offset opportunities in a 2017 report (Motu Note #25 – New Offset Options for New Zealand). To name a few of these offset opportunities:
1) Terrestrial and marine wetlands are known to be net carbon sinks but are not counted in the national emissions accounting and
could be. Their omission is largely due to a lack of understanding about how much carbon is sequestered and how much of other
GHG emissions (methane and nitrous oxide) they generate. More research is needed here, which the Commissions should
reasonably recommend. In the meantime, however, the other “ecosystem services” and wildlife habitat provided by wetlands are
well appreciated, so a national effort to promote, protect and restore wetlands, even if future research shows carbon sequestration is
insignificant, would be of net national benefit. We note that New Zealand is a signatory to the 1971 Ramsar International
Convention on Wetlands, so we should already be doing our best to protect and restore wetlands.
We submit the Commission should recommend to government that a national program of research, protection and restoration of
wetlands, with an eye toward ultimately adding wetlands carbon sequestration toward the national GHG inventory.
2) Soils are another known carbon sink which are not accounted for in the national GHG inventory and could be. As with wetlands,
NZ research on soils carbon sequestration is limited. We submit that the Commission recommend to government that a program of
expanded soil carbon research combined with programs to promote known methods of soil carbon enhancement and soil
conservation, be undertaken. This might take the form of carbon credits allotted to farmer who plant carbon-sequestering cover
crop during fallow years. This, again would be with an eye toward adding carbon sequestration by soils into the national GHG
3) Biochar, or charcoal made from wood waste, is known to be a valuable soil amendment; acting to retain water and nutrients in soils.
It is also an efficient form of carbon sequestration; taking wood waste that would naturally decay to carbon dioxide & methane and
converting it into carbon dioxide and elemental carbon. Test show that up to 50% of wood waste carbon can be retained as biochar,
which is stable in soils for potentially hundreds to thousands of years. There is already a small but active biochar industry here in NZ.
We submit that the Commission should request that the government provide stimulus to this industry, perhaps in the form of a
biochar price guarantee, which would further sequester carbon from our country’s abundant wood waste.
30. The NZ voluntary offset market has the potential to sequester a significant amount of carbon, provided there are enough offset projects and it is sufficiently subscribed. Many companies looking for reputational benefits, such as Air New Zealand, already purchase carbon offsets, but cannot find enough domestic offsets to meet the demand of their passenger-funded program. We request that the Commission recommend to government that it promote the domestic carbon offset market, perhaps by supplying seed money for projects and assistance with certification costs. At the same time, the Commission should recommend to government that it promote the carbon offset market to NZ industry, as a way for them to claim to be “carbon neutral”. This could reasonably start with SOEs, such as Air NZ, Genesis Energy, Mercury and Kiwi Rail and be expanded to wider industry and businesses.
We acknowledge that promoting the voluntary carbon offset market might compete with the government’s existing strategy of promoting permanent forests, or at least may represent a duplication of effort. The thought here is that government should use as many “levers” as available to promote domestic carbon sequestration.
31. We submit that the points in the submission are in no way a criticism of the Commission or the report. This first report and carbon budgets represent an important step forward in New Zealand’s transition to address the accelerating climate breakdown happening all around us. The report has stressed some important, yet perhaps underappreciated aspects of the transition, such as intergenerational justice, Maori partnership and an equitable distribution of benefits and burden. The Commission is to be applauded for this. The aim of this submission is to make a great, groundbreaking report, even better.
32. We wish the Commission to keep in mind, however, that we cannot go on behaving, thinking and treating the world as we have been, exploiting the earth for all the energy and everything else we can get from it now; the future, our descendants and the planet be damned. This is our only home: it is urgent that we remember to treat it and all life that shares it with us respectfully, valuing it for what it is, how it sustains us, not just for the resources it provides. All our submissions concern the means to that end.
Tēnā koutou rangatira mā.
Climate Karanga Marlborough comprises a group of over 100 different people all of whom have come through their own personal journey to a realisation of the real threat of climate breakdown, that we all now face and that we seek to bring to the attention of our fellow Malburians. We work with the Marlborough District Council, we publish articles, give talks and provide a social support network. Many of our members, through their personal and professional lives, have had experience of how people’s mental health and wellbeing may be drastically affected by changes in our environments.
Our submission is that the establishment of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission
1. specifically includes within the Commission’s purview and its functions attention to the significant impact on mental health and wellbeing of climate change, particularly those functions listed in Clause 11;
2. requires the Commission, in its task to promote alignment, collaboration and communication amongst contributors to New Zealanders’ mental health and wellbeing, to work closely with the Climate Change Commission and other contributors to managing climate change;
3. requires specifying that the membership of the Board collectively have knowledge, understanding and experience of the effects of climate on our land and its people.
CKM wish to present our submission in person at the Select Committee hearings.
The Mental Health and Wellbeing (MHWB) Commission (hereinafter The Commission).
We affirm the spirit and the intention in establishing The Commission, and we affirm its stated objectives, functions and powers as an independent body.
We applaud the cross-party involvement in drafting the MHWB Commission Bill (hereinafter The Bill), although we regret that despite 6 National Party members declaring their support for The Bill in its first reading, the National Party appears to have chosen to veto the Bill along party lines on a point of timing that surely the Select Committee might be allowed to have some leeway to adjust depending on their progress.
We acknowledge how those who have drafted The Bill have held to the findings of the He Ara Oranga Report, particularly expanding access, facilitating co-design, taking a whole-of-government approach to wellbeing, prevention and social determinants, and facilitating health promotion and prevention. However, we are disappointed that neither the He Ara Oranga Report nor the first draft of The Bill mentions how climate change has a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of New Zealanders. That it does so has been confirmed in the Royal Society’s report in 2017 on Human Health Impacts of Climate Change for New Zealand, in various reports by the Ministry for the Environment, by the Climate Change Commission and in numerous articles in the international health literature.
We welcome the positive approach that the Climate Change Commission has taken in recognising New Zealanders’ responsibilities in managing climate change and in supporting their endeavours to that end. With that in mind, we urge the Select Committee to highlight in the second reading of The Bill the importance of The (MHWB) Commission collaborating with the Climate Change Commission to promote an understanding of how climate change affects people’s mental health and wellbeing and how these effects may be managed for greater wellbeing, and so to prevent further ill health.
Mental health, including ill-health, and wellbeing services.
We welcome the emphasis in The Bill on providing an overview of services promoting wellbeing, not only services ‘treating and managing’ illness. But we welcome too the recognition of the social determinants of illness, to which we would add environmental determinants, as well as the biological determinants. Also, we recognise how poverty and social and economic disadvantage interplay with mental illness and distress, a fact widely recognised in the mental health and sociological literatures. So, we see that there is a great opportunity for The Commission to take a wider approach to mental health than the so-called social investment approach which targets services to key groups, and thereby discriminates them. Almost inevitably, such an approach tends to stigmatise those groups, such as ‘the mentally ill, the disabled, the elderly, vulnerable children and Māori’. Rather The Bill aims to improve equity for communities ‘that experience poorer mental health and wellbeing outcomes’.
We support the requirement that the members of The Commission collectively have knowledge, understanding and experience of Te Ao Māori. The Māori people know what it is to belong to the land, rather than vice versa, and have long experience of what it is to become dispossessed and displaced, and so to grieve. To us this is key, as these will be the effects on all of us, our health and our wellbeing, inseparably both physical and mental, if we do not anticipate and deal with the threats of climate change.
We therefore ask that The Bill be amended to ensure the work of the MWHB Commission
Letter sent on 10/11/19 to request meeting -
Kia ora John,
Congratulations on returning such a strong Council. We really appreciate that you have taken on the position of chair of the Environment Committee and are encouraged by your statement that there is a "lot of work to do" in this area. Needless to say this is “music” to our ears and we are now keen to organise a time for 3 or 4 members of our CKM team to meet with you to consider how we might best work together in the coming months.
To prepare for this possibility, constructive meetings have been had with the new councillors, as well as several of the returned councillors. This has been a useful time for Councillors to familiarise themselves with our current interests and concerns and vice versa.
At this stage we are particularly keen to discuss:
We are keen to share concerns being expressed by some of the youth. It is difficult to know how best to respond to the distress some of them are feeling. We're guided to some extent by what they tell us. They say it is more distressing when they perceive people in positions of authority and power responding inadequately to the information the scientists are telling us. They say it reduces their worries when those same people recognise there is an emergency and declare this openly. When they feel people are not being open and direct about it they worry that it is not being treated as a priority.
A Declaration of Climate Emergency:
We raised the question of the declaration of a Climate Emergency with the old council, as did the Youth, and you indicated such a decision was best left for the new council to make. We appreciate there are political and practical ramifications from making such a declaration but for us, there is no doubt about the severity of the crisis and we believe that such a Declaration at this time would be a valuable response to our young people and focus point for the wider community. We are aware of the constant new information coming into the public arena confirming the critical nature of the state of the planet's climate. This long slow emergency will be with us for generations.
We have included a couple of items for your interest to support our concerns. The first is a sobering paper published in Australia in May this year titled "Existential Climate Related Security Risk". https://www.breakthroughonline.org.au/papers
The second is a link to a recent article from the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/05/climate-crisis-11000-scientists-warn-of-untold-suffering
We look forward to discussing these matters further with you.
Supplementary information sent on December 2nd -
As you will have noted we are interested to discuss the pros and cons of declaring a Climate Emergency in Marlborough. Firstly we wish to state we are optimistic the final Climate Change chapter of the MEP is going to provide the council and the community with a firm foundation to work from. We expect it to give clear guidance on suitable actions to take, as we plan together how best to prepare for the climate emergency scientists have informed us we are all now faced with. As we have stated before we believe MDC has a critical leadership role to play in our community in helping raise awareness of the threats we are likely to face from Global Warming and in leading by example with appropriate actions.
One question that has arisen in discussions with councillors has been: “What actions would council need to take to justify declaring a Climate Emergency?”
We believe there is not a lot extra council needs to do to justify making such a public statement. Effectively you have already done the donkey work. You have already instigated the “Integrated Work Programme” to provide you with baseline information to plan from and recently formed the “Cross Council Staff Working Group”, which we see as having an important role in coordinating activity across the council operations. But most important has been the drafting of the Climate Change chapter in the draft MEP followed by the proposed adoption of a range of important recommendations arising from the draft chapter and the submission process. We wish to commend you on appointing David Jackson to present the Section 42A report, as it was clear he was well qualified to do that job. Just as important was your decision to appoint several very well informed and qualified commissioners to the Hearings Panel. We were also particularly pleased that the very important contribution from one of CKM’s expert witnesses, Dr Judy Lawrence, was well reflected in the recommendations. We are optimistic the final Climate Change chapter in the MEP will incorporate all that good work and provide the foundation we need to work from as a community. If our optimism is well founded then this important document will ensure the council takes some very important actions in the next few years to lead by example and help build resilience in our community.
Another question we were asked was: “If the council is already taking actions that recognise the importance of planning for global warming then why declare a Climate Emergency”.
This is a valid question and we believe gets to the crux of the matter. There is only one really good reason to make this declaration. The answer is this: “Council has a leadership role in the community. This requires it to take every possible action to let the community know our planet is faced with an existential crisis. Declaring a Climate Emergency says to everyone we must always keep the information about this threat in the forefront of our minds. It says we are all in this together and we must do whatever we can in our lives to make a contribution to addressing the issues we face. It is a symbolic action with the potential to have great influence.”
If you accept and agree with the information we have already sent, contained in the paper “Existential Climate Related Security Risk” and the accompanying Guardian article then we believe there is no other real option. It is our future and the future of our descendants that is at stake here. We accept this is a huge responsibility but face it we must if we are to have any chance of doing the necessary work to play our part and prepare ourselves for a changing world. We understand and accept that in the end any decision needs a majority of councillors to support it. We have put some effort into discussing the matter with various councillors and sharing information with them, but believe getting a positive decision will be more difficult without the support of the mayor. We are therefore keen to have this opportunity to meet face to face and hear what you thoughts are on making or not making such a declaration.
If there is support for a declaration we would like to suggest an appropriate time to make such a public declaration would be after the MEP is released when the Climate Change chapter can be referred to in support of the declaration.
Below is an attempt to put together the important highlights from the Section 42A report and Addendum on Chapter 19, the Climate Change chapter of the MEP. We have done this as much for our own use as yours. Extracting the important statements and recommendations from the report and putting them all together in one place helps to emphasise the value of this document. We are hopeful that, as the Climate Emergency becomes more obvious to everyone over the next decade, it will provide a good basis to work from and to guide us in making the necessary decisions and adaptations that benefit our community.
Amended introduction to Climate Change Chapter 19.
Society currently relies on fossil fuels as an energy source. The consumption of these fuels and livestock farming are the two major contributors to the large increase in the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over the last 150 years. The general consensus of scientific opinion is that the world is getting warmer, causing its climate to change. Global temperatures are approximately 0.85 degrees Celsius higher than in 1880 according to the IPCC 5 Assessment Report. To “strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change” the UN Paris Agreement set an aim to hold the increase in global average temperatures to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. There is now strong evidence that most of the warming observed is attributable to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activities. As more gases accumulate in the atmosphere, the Earth gets warmer, resulting in rising sea temperatures and levels, the melting of glaciers and ice caps and greater extremes in weather patterns, such as more storms of greater intensity and longer droughts.
In Marlborough, NIWA predicts that the mean temperature will increase by approximately 0.7-1.0 degrees by 2040 and 0.7-3.0 degrees by 2090 above 1995 levels. The climate is likely to become drier and the frequency of droughts is expected to increase. There is also a predicted increase in westerly winds, especially in winter and spring.
Section 7 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) requires the Council to have regard to the effects of these predicted climatic changes in exercising its functions under the RMA. Uncertainty about the nature of these effects at international, national and local level makes this a difficult task.
Most projections are also long term and certainly beyond the ten year life of the Marlborough Environment Plan (MEP). Taking all of this into account, the provisions of this chapter focus on applying the best available information to enable people and communities to respond to the adverse effects created by climate change - and any beneficial effects that may arise.
Climate change may also lead to more stress-related mental health effects from extreme weather events such as droughts, floods or fires as these can cause disruption to individuals and business, including the primary sector.
In the meantime, it is prudent to promote actions that reduce or offset carbon emissions and retain sufficient flexibility in the use, development and protection of natural and physical resources to enable resource use to adapt to climate change.
One of the difficulties is that there is inherent uncertainty regarding the likely local climate changes in Marlborough and therefore the exact nature of those adverse effects is unknown, making it particularly difficult to plan for climate change. Further research will assist in this regard. In the meantime, it is prudent to promote actions that offset carbon emissions and retain sufficient flexibility in the use, development and protection of natural and physical resources to enable resource users to adapt to a changing climate.
Promote actions within Marlborough to reduce or offset carbon emissions.
For example, the Council will assess and then address the carbon footprint of delivering its own services to the community (including its tree planting) and encourage businesses to do likewise.
Improve the community’s understanding of the potential effects of climate change on the Marlborough environment.
Enable primary industries to adapt to the effects of climate change.
Investigate Council operations to establish their carbon footprint; set goals for reducing carbon emissions having regard to New Zealand’s national emissions reduction targets and develop an action plan to reach those goals.
Consider, in the review of the Marlborough Regional Transport Plan, provisions to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases taking into account the climate change provisions of the Marlborough Environment Plan.
Apply the findings of international and national climate change research to Marlborough’s environment to the extent that is possible and support research relating to Marlborough. The findings can then be applied to determine and better understand the implications of climate change.
Share the findings of research on climate change in Marlborough and the implications
of these predictions with the community. This will help to allow people to take action to prepare for
those implications and therefore reduce the adverse effects of climate change .
Rules will establish sustainable levels of freshwater allocation that take into account the effects of climate change on river flows and aquifer levels and the resulting sustainable yield from those freshwater resources. Enable the taking of surface water for storage purposes through the application of a controlled activity rule to the abstraction.
Apply a range of permitted activity rules to farming and forestry activities. Use broad definitions of “farming” and “forestry” so that farmers and foresters are able to modify farming practices and diversify or change crop/stock types in response to changes in climate. Enable the creation of permanent carbon sinks through the application of appropriate rules.
Extra Method recommended for addition.
The Council will consider establishing a Climate Change Advisory Group comprising representatives from science, industry and the local community to work with Council in a collaborative way to identify regional climate change threats in Marlborough and devise appropriate adaptation and mitigation responses.
Climate change could affect natural hazards and create a coastal inundation hazards associated with sea level rise.
Explanation to Issue 19B
Global warming is expected to result in a rise in sea level due to thermal expansion of ocean water and melting of glacial and polar ice. Sea level is predicted to rise around 0.55 to 1.36 metres by 2120 . This rise potentially increases the risk of inundation at the coast.
Coastal erosion could also become more prevalent, increasing the need for coastal protection measures, both of which can have adverse effects on natural values . Along the coastal margin of the Wairau Plain, the level of the Wairau River bar and river mouth efficiency has far greater influence on the potential for inundation than the projected sea level rise. Further south, the topography and lack of settlement minimises any inundation risk. However, the risks are far greater in the Marlborough Sounds where settlement and associated infrastructure (especially means of access, such as jetties and access tracks) tend to be located in the coastal environment and near the water edge. Where land is subsiding, the adverse effects of sea level rise from climate change can be accelerated.
Avoid and mitigate the adverse effects of natural hazards influenced by climate change.
Monitor flood hazard on an ongoing basis.
For planning and development in the coastal environment the following sea level rise allowances and scenarios should be used (until a dynamic adaptive pathways planning process is completed) to assess and manage potential coastal hazard risk:
(a) Coastal subdivision, greenfield developments and major new infrastructure – Avoid hazard risk by using sea-level rise over more than 100 years and the H+ scenario;
(b) Changes in land use and redevelopment (intensification) – Adapt to hazards by conducting a risk assessment using the range of scenarios and a dynamic adaptive pathways planning approach;
(c) Existing coastal development and assets – use a minimum 1.0m sea level rise ; and
(d) Non-habitable short-lived assets with a functional need to be at the coast, and which either have low consequences or are readily adaptable (including services) - use a minimum 0.65m sea level rise.
Dynamic adaptive pathways planning approach, and the climate change/sea level rise scenarios are as defined in “Coastal Hazards and Climate Change: Guidance for Local Government, Ministry for the Environment, December 2017”
Explanation to Policy 19.2.2
The International Panel on Climate Change has determined that it is very likely that the rate of global mean sea level rise during the twenty-first century will exceed the rate observed during 1971– 2010 due to increases in ocean warming and loss of mass from glaciers and ice sheets.
The Ministry for the Environment advises local government*, to use a ‘dynamic adaptive pathways planning’ approach to considering the effects of climate change, and managing and adapting to it and the hazards risk from plan for a sea level rise and climate change. The approach provides flexibility that allows an agreed course of action to be changed if the need arises. Until the adaptive pathways planning is undertaken, the Ministry for the Environment guidance is to use interim sea level rise allowances and scenarios, depending on the type of activity. This advice, for four categories of activity, is reflected in Policy 19.2.2. In Policy 19.2.2 (a) a fixed figure is not used because a development occurring in the late 2020s, for example, will have a different forecast period (and predicted sea level rise), than one occurring earlier than this, or later. Also, the decadal increments for sea level rise over the next 100 years are not equal, but get larger under the H+ scenario further into the future.
Although the life of the MEP is only ten years, buildings have a minimum design life of 50 years and new subdivisions and property titles have an indefinite life. Equally, new infrastructure can be long-lived, and involve multi-million-dollar community investment. The policy reflects the different timeframes, and increases of sea level – and the different risk involved – associated with various types of development. It also recognises that a different approach is possible with new compared to existing development.
This policy will be applied to the determination of resource consent applications, plan changes and designations. Rules elsewhere in the MEP require buildings to be set back from the coastal marine area. This in itself will act to protect buildings from the adverse effects of sea level rise and/or storm surge. However, when applications are made to establish a building within this setback, then the policy will be able to be applied.
*Coastal Hazards and Climate Change: Guidance for Local Government, Ministry for the Environment, December 2017.
In order to plan for the effect of sea level rise, it is necessary to understand the areas along the Marlborough coast that are likely to be affected by inundation in the long term. The Council will undertake an investigation to establish the extent and nature of the inundation hazard using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent projections of sea level rise.
There is a reduction in the carbon footprint of the Marlborough District Council’s operations. Council report establishing existing carbon footprint and subsequent reports on reductions achieved.
1.Climate Karanga Marlborough (CKM) is a citizens group of over 100 members, with the mission of bringing the realities of climate breakdown to the people of Marlborough and educate how best to respond. We do this through a number of initiatives:
a.by working with the Marlborough District Council on strategies to limit emissions and help adaptation to the effects of climate change
b.by publishing articles promoting climate change awareness and preparedness in local newspapers and by sponsoring community and school events
c.by providing a social support network for Marlburians and other New Zealanders anxious about, and looking to better understand the implications of the climate change crisis we are now facing.
2.CKM broadly supports the objectives and overall structure of the Bill. We are happy that Parliament is finally taking action on the climate emergency. We agree with aligning the Bill with the warming limited to 1.5°C rather than other, less ambitious targets.
3.We do wish to be heard at the Select Committee hearings.
4.We support the establishment of the Climate Commission as an independent panel of experts (rather than stakeholders) to advise Parliament and government departments. Although the selection mechanism proposed in the Bill appears sufficiently robust to prevent politicisation of the Commission and the reporting mechanisms will prevent suppression of the Commission’s reports, we strongly feel that the Commission should be a separate statutory body reporting to Parliament rather than to the minister. This is the structure of the Committee on Climate Change in the UK and it seems to be working well. The NZ Commission needs to be shielded from the political whims of the government of the day. The best way to achieve this is with a separate public body. In addition, funding of the Commission as proposed appears vulnerable to the annual budget cycle of Parliament. We recommend that funding of the Commission be provided for separately, as is the case with the nation’s courts.
5.We support the measures taken in the Bill to include Maori and honour the Treaty of Waitangi. These appear to be sufficient to provide the needed Maori input into the Commission’s work.
6.We support the inclusion of adaptation and risk assessments as reporting responsibilities of the Commission and not handled or shared by separate agencies. It will be important that emissions targets and progress toward meeting those targets be integrated with reporting on the impacts of climate change on New Zealanders and adaptation to it. The nation needs a coherent strategy, which would not be the case if these functions are handled by or shared with other agencies.
7.We support the goal of net zero emissions of greenhouse gases (other than methane) by 2050. This is in line with the IPCC recommendations to achieve no more than 1.5°C warming with limited overshoot. Given the fact that New Zealand is lagging behind in achieving the emissions reductions and renewables uptake it has committed to, we feel it would be important to aim to achieve net zero emissions before 2050. That way there is room to take account of unforeseen circumstances that may set us back from this goal.
8.With respect to the “net zero emissions by 2050” goal, we feel that an interim goal for 2030 should also be stated, as is the case with methane. The IPCC recommends a decrease of 45% by 2030 relative to 2010. We support this as an interim 2030 goal. It would ensure New Zealand stays aligned with IPCC recommendations and prevent the necessity of having to introduce urgent, disruptive and costly emissions reductions measures as the 2050 deadline approaches.
9.We support the “split gas” approach to emissions targets. Methane has a limited lifetime in the atmosphere, but also cannot be mitigated through sequestration. Carbon dioxide has a long lifetime in the atmosphere and accumulates in our environment, but it can be sequestered by forestry, soils and industrial processes. The two gases produce vastly different warming, with methane having a much more severe near-term impact than carbon dioxide. Methane’s more severe near-term impact is not properly accounted for in the GWP100 method for equating their impacts, which would likely be the basis for a common emissions accounting scheme. Lumping methane with carbon dioxide in the emissions trading scheme could also have a perverse consequence, whereby methane emissions are allowed to increase through forestry offsets. This could conceivably prevent us from reaching the 1.5°C global warming limit the Bill is aiming for. That does not mean methane reduction should be given less priority; just the opposite.
10.We support the 2050 reduction target for methane of at least 24-47%. This is in line with the IPCC recommendation of “35% or more” decrease by 2050 in order to remain below the 1.5°C global warming target. Flexibility in this target is prudent because it is not clear that technological advancements, de-stocking and land-use changes in our agriculture sector will, on their own, be able to achieve the more ambitious reduction target in time. Neither is it clear that our atmosphere will always have the same capacity to remove methane. A 29 April 2019 article in EOS () published by the American Geophysical Union, suggests that methane emissions are growing faster than can be accounted for and new, poorly understood factors with respect to methane sources and breakdown in the atmosphere could make it harder to reach the 1.5°C goal.
11.We feel that the interim 10% reduction target for methane by 2030 is well below that which will be required to limit warming to 1.5°C. MPI has recently stated that a 10% reduction could be achieved simply by following farming best practice. We note that methane emissions pathways used in IPCC modelling to achieve a limit of 1.5°C heating show a decrease well below 10% by 2030. The IPCC Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°C Figure 2.7 shows an average decline of approximately 30-40% by 2030 for models achieving 1.5C warming with low overshoot. New Zealand could achieve the target of net zero carbon dioxide emissions, only to exceed the 1.5°C warming limit because methane was not decreased quickly enough. We argue for a more aggressive 2030 target for methane, in order to stay in line with what is necessary to achieve the 1.5°C warming limit.
12.We do not support the provision in Section 5ZJ of the Bill which prevents any court remedies in the event the government fails to achieve emissions targets, other than a declaration of such. The Bill should carry the weight of a treaty, a treaty between the people of New Zealand and its government. In the event that emissions targets are not met, the government should be compelled to act to remedy the situation.
13.We do not support the provision in Section 5ZK which states that government decision makers “may take the 2050 emissions target and emissions budget into account”. This wording needs to be changed to “must take the 2050 emissions target and emissions budget into account”. Simply stating that they must take this target into account doesn’t mean that they have to blindly follow it – they still may not. But it makes little sense to set a cross-party national policy that does not need to be taken into account in government decision making.
14.New Zealand’s share of international aviation and shipping needs to be included in national emissions accounting and in emissions reduction schemes. The fact that these sources of emissions are presently exempt from the Paris Agreement is no excuse. New Zealand should follow the UK’s lead in including these emissions sources in our emissions reduction targets.
15.We support the establishment of a youth council to work in parallel with and advise the Climate Commission. Youth today will be the hardest hit by the climate changes of tomorrow and they need to have informed representation on the Climate Commission.