Climate Karanga Marlborough Submission to MDC 2021 – 2031 LTP.
A couple of our members sat in on the the recent presentation to the Environment Committee by Gregor Macara from NIWA, on Climate Change Projections and Impacts. We were encouraged to see Councillors and Staff are keeping up to date with the latest information in this area.
We wish to refer you to the Executive Summary of the Report on pages 9, 10 & 11. Please note the large range of possibilities for temperature and sea level rises dependent on the different greenhouse gas concentration pathways (RCP’s). We wish to stress the importance of not assuming the lowest pathway will happen. All indications up to the present indicate that we are more on track for the medium or even the high pathways and the difference in consequences is large and significant. For example a decrease in mean annual low flow (MALF) could exceed 50% for most of the river systems in the region with increased greenhouse gas concentration and time. With the declining trend in the Wairau Aquifer already clearly evident this added information is cause for concern. Longer periods of low flow will result in further reduced aquifer recharge. We don’t need to explain to you how serious the impacts of such an outcome would be for the river and spring fed ecosystems and the Marlborough economy.
We request councillors to always take the “precautionary approach” when making decisions that have the potential to impact the Wairau River and aquifer.
We wish to take this opportunity to remind Council that your entire work program needs to be viewed through a climate - change lens. The NIWA report was a timely reminder of how important this is and will be, as Climate Change impacts, such as extreme weather events and sea level rise, increase. We are encouraged to see in the LTP document the recognition of the importance of building resilience in our local infrastructure to such impacts. We strongly encourage the aim of being proactive when doing infrastructure planning and support the statement – “Building infrastructure to the latest standards and with the most suitable materials increases resilience to floods, earthquakes and changes in the climate.”
We support the resourcing for planning and modelling work to assess the likely effects of these impacts and to be better prepared to mitigate them.
CLIMATE ACTION PLAN.
In our submission we wish to highlight the question of whether funding allocations within the LTP are adequate to meet commitments previously made by this council when they adopted the Climate Action Plan in March 2020.
We request that you systematically review the LTP, taking a perspective of urgent climate action in the current decade and recognising the need to reduce net GHG emissions by half by 2030.
Richard Coningham has recently supplied us with a progress report on the Climate Change Action Plan. We are encouraged to see steady progress being made on various Actions laid out in the Plan.
We ask you to keep this “provision for uncertainty” foremost in your minds when finalising the LTP.
We ask you to reassess funding commitments in the Climate Action Plan and ensure adequate resourcing is allocated, if you have not already done so.
THE LONG VIEW
We believe it is critical to keep a long view with all planning decisions. The NIWA report gives you critical information to consider in your decision making. As an example we wish to highlight the recent agenda topic looking at the upgrade of the Town Branch drain, which was discussed at the Assets and Services Committee meeting on January 28th this year. We note in the associated article printed in the Marlborough Express on February 7th that the question of establishing further housing east of the existing town boundary on the E2 land arose during this discussion. This is a very good example of where the long view is essential.
We note the MDC CEO Mark Wheeler is quoted as saying, "It's not an easy process and there's a lot of questions to answer, because there's a whole raft of issues with that land.” One of those issues that appears to have not been mentioned in the councillors’ discussion is that of sea level rise. Maybe the belief is that the sea is several kilometres from this area and that therefore there is nothing to be concerned about? The excellent public resource you have now made available online with the new LIDAR maps shows clearly, most of the E2 land is less than 2 metres above sea level. One of our members used to drive a liquid waste truck and has seen what the ground water levels are like in Hardings Rd in the middle of winter where the land is currently only about one metre above sea level. Ground water levels reach the surface during wet periods. With sea levels projected to rise by around one metre by 2100 all the E2 land will be in the same boat, so to speak – one metre above sea level. Council will have to provide more pumping stations to keep the area liveable. If worst case scenarios occur we may well have nearly 2 metres of sea level rise by about 2150 according to the NIWA report. We would like to remind you of something Gregor Macara mentioned in his presentation. The possibility of passing currently unknown tipping points in the climate system (that may be irreversible) can not be included in their projections. We have to be smarter with our decision making and think ahead a bit more for our grandchildren’s sake please!
We request Councillors to take the long view when considering development of any further housing east of the existing town boundary.
Thankyou. Budyong Hill for Climate Karanga Marlborough.
MDC - LTP HEARINGS – CLIMATE KARANGA MARLBOROUGH SUBMISSION. 02/06/2021
Kia ora. Thankyou for this opportunity to have input to the 2021 – 2031 LTP process. We recognise the value that this chance to interact with Council gives you and us and hopefully the experience helps to keep you in touch with the aspirations and concerns within our community. We are aware there are many varied demands on Councillors attention and we understand the challenge you all face making the necessary decisions to meet the many and varied needs of our community. We know our request to view your entire work program through a “climate change lens”, to always use the “precautionary approach” and to take the “long view” only adds to the complexity of your decision making processes. But we strongly believe these things must be done if we are to have the best chance of reducing the biodiversity and climate impacts that are resulting from global warming, ocean acidification and ecosystem degradation. This LTP process is designed to look out over the next 10 years. The really big challenges are going to be with us for not one decade, but many decades and in fact centuries. The recent NIWA report to Council helped to focus our attention on this reality. As we noted in our submission, Gregor Makara emphasised that the possibility of passing currently unknown and irreversible tipping points in the climate system could not be included in their projections.
Somehow having gained this knowledge we all have to retain some optimism and hope. As the dominant species on our planet we have to work together, find the solutions and make the necessary changes to the way we live to hopefully give our descendants a fighting chance of survival. Members of CKM have a strong belief that this requires big changes in the ways we think about the world, in the ways we relate to our planet and to all the myriad other species we share the planet with.
I recently read an article titled “Humans are in collision with nature”. This was not David Attenborough reminding us but Rob Campbell, the current chair of the boards of SkyCity Entertainment Group, Summerset Group, Tourism Holdings, Wel Networks, New Zealand Rural Land Co, and also a director of Precinct Properties, the largest owner and developer of premium inner-city real estate in Auckland and Wellington.
In the article Rob was quoted as saying “The way I perceive the world at the moment is that there is a real clash or collision going on between the way human beings have conducted ourselves and nature. Wherever you look, you can see all these things, which are very important in themselves, but effectively symptoms of this wider collision. There is a dawning recognition that the old things we do and the way in which we do them are under challenge. If you think everything in the world is basically okay and that all we need to do is to return to previous behaviours and increase our GDP as much as we can and increase the individual profitability of our business as much as we can and increase your personal income as much as you can, then I think you’re quite at odds with the way I see the world.”
He went on to talk about the importance of Boards needing to view their businesses through a wider lens and that businesses that will succeed in a sustainable way in the new post Covid environment are those that are responsible to all their stakeholders, constantly scan the horizon for change rather than just reacting when it smacks them in the face, and that genuinely excite their people to work for a common cause rather than just a short-term incentive.
“Those key things will distinguish the businesses of the future,” he says.
Of course what he is talking about does not just apply to the business world, it applies to each and every one of us and in particular it applies to those in positions of influence and leadership in a community such as yourselves. We have to find ways to live our lives using less energy and consuming less. We have to make less demands on the many life giving resources our planet provides for us because currently we are living beyond our means. We are using more resources per person than the planet can sustainably provide and Kiwis are amongst the world leaders in this area.
We would like to finish by reminding you of the main issues we raised in our submission and getting some feedback from you if that is appropriate.
1) We recognise the positive steps being taken putting the Climate Change Action Plan into effect and look forward to further progress with these actions. We hope to be reassured that all adequate funding required to implement the Action Plan has been allocated in the LTP, as stated in clause 4(c)(ii) of the Plan.
2) Similarly we hope you can reassure us you will have clause 4(c)(i) of the Action Plan foremost in your minds when finalising the LTP. This clause states – “Include assumptions for climate change in the Long Term Plan, including provision for uncertainty, based on latest scientific evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”
3) We urge councillors to always take the “precautionary approach” when making decisions. In particular we would focus on decisions that have the potential to impact the Wairau River and aquifer, especially with the knowledge we have gained and are gaining from the NIWA report projections and the ongoing Gravel River Beds and associated aquifer research. It is clear users of water from the aquifer can no longer take it for granted that their ongoing supply will always continue uninterrupted.
4) Finally we wish to focus on the final paragraph of our submission headed “The Long View”. As we have already said we believe that view needs to be well beyond the designated 10 years of this Plan because of the big challenges I referred to earlier. We have used the proposed residential development of the E2 land as an example of where this longer view is required. Do we understand the implications for this area when sea level rises one metre or more? Will we not already have big challenges to face with managing rising ground water levels around the sewerage ponds and the Riverlands Industrial Estate? Do we want to add to these challenges by extending the residential zone further to the east? We don’t have the answers to these questions but we do consider it our responsibility to raise them with you at this time.
I’m very aware of the difficulty of raising such issues without sounding like a pessimist and alarmist. I am inherently an optimist, otherwise I wouldn’t be standing here in front of you right now. Members of our group are involved in a variety of positive and constructive activities in the wider community and try our best to strike a balance when applying our kaupapa, which in part is, “To increase NZ society’s awareness of, and its preparedness to meet the impending challenges that rapid climate change will entail.”
So thankyou again for the opportunity to submit to the LTP and to come here today and “prod” you all, as we have done before. We see this as an important part of our task as a lobby group. We value the interaction and the relationships we have established with councillors and staff and will continue to contribute as positively as we can to the community building process in Marlborough.
Nga mihi nui, Budyong Hill – for Climate Karanga Marlborough.
We received a response from MDC after the LTP hearings where they informed us of their decision -
"There is $483,000 budgeted for Climate Change investigations. The group’s concerns are valid and are being taken account of in Council's planning, whether that be our resource management plan, infrastructure design or the broader planning issues involved in new development area considerations. There will be further work done on the benefits and costs of electric and hybrid vehicles to inform our next fleet renewal. The CE’s Council vehicle is a hybrid."