Climate change targets discussed

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SOUTHLAND will only be able to meet the nationwide domestic 2030 and 2050 emissions goals if the Government is consistent with its long-term climate change targets, a district councillor says.

The perspective was heard at a Southland District Council (SDC) meeting yesterday where councillors were tasked with approving a submission on the He Pou a Rangi/The Climate Change Commission’s 2021 Draft Advice for Consultation report.

The report provides advice on how New Zealand should achieve its domestic 2030 and 2050 emissions targets, and on the policy positions which should be included in the Government’s first emissions reduction plan.

The advice outlined changes needed in particular sectors and recommended critical actions the Government needed to take to reach its climate goals.

It also included information about transitioning to a low emissions society, and the impacts of doing so.

Cr Karyn Owen said SDC’s submission needed to highlight the importance of certainty when it came to the Government setting long-term targets for councils to fulfil.

“Each time there’s a change of Government the goal posts get shifted again.”

Targets needed to be “locked in” to ensure councils had security around their plans.

Councillors agreed and the point was noted as a general observation in the submission.

The commission’s report also states a need to push public transport as a sustainable way to travel which, in turn, would alleviate issues around no parking spaces and congestion on roads.

Cr Julie Keast argued the issue did not apply to the Southland district as there were no public transport options and implementing a system would not work.

“I assume most people only use their cars when they need to.

“When we do use our vehicles, we’re efficient.”

SDC also actively encouraged people to walk instead of drive where possible, she said.

While the council was generally supportive of the commission’s advice, it believed the transition to lower emissions needed to be clear and well-planned, and there was strong leadership in place to see it through.

It also stressed the importance of having careful policy design and targeted support.

The fact a range of groups, regions and sectors in Southland would experience climate change differently was also acknowledged.

Southland Mayor Gary Tong acknowledged the commission’s report was just the beginning and further discussion would be had on the topic.

The council endorsed the submission which would be lodged with He Pou a Rangi prior to the end of the consultation period on March 28.

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