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.