Project Kōkiri is the Nelson Tasman economic development collaboration set up to navigate and mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the top ten economic challenges identified is Climate Change, which is already affecting our horticulture, aquaculture and agriculture industries, native ecosystems, infrastructure, health and biosecurity. We are a coastal region and must make challenging decisions on future investments in infrastructure and strategic land use planning. Consideration of the transitions required within the current economy to a lower-emissions focus, and a focus on the future resilience of the region in response to the significant challenges presented by climate change, is at the heart of the regenerative economic thinking in Project Kōkiri.

Council has been investigating actions to reduce its emissions, as well as looking at what adaptation and response activities would be needed in the wider community.

Work that has been ongoing for many years includes Council’s support for walking, cycling and public transport initiatives, waste reduction projects, implementation of energy efficient street lighting, and increasing planting programmes across the city.

Council has also provided support and funding for the Nelson Tasman Climate Forum and Businesses for Climate Action, groups which have attracted national attention for their innovative approaches to community climate action.

At the beginning of 2019, Nelson was identified in a Local Government New Zealand report as one of the South Island priority areas whose infrastructure would be affected by climate change and sea level rise.

This report was released at the same time Council was commencing discussions with the community on coastal hazards. Around the same time Council also started a programme of work to measure its organisational carbon emissions, the first step towards setting targets to reduce these.

In 2019, Council supported central government’s Climate Change (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, which set out a climate change plan for the next 30 years, including a objective of limiting temperature rises to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius within this time period. This support for central government action was followed by Council declaring a Climate Emergency on 16 May 2019.

Council consulted on its programme to address climate change as part of developing its Annual Plan 2019/20 and received strong feedback from our community about the need to do more and give the work higher priority.

The declaration of a climate emergency publicly declares that the world is in a state of climate emergency that requires urgent action by all levels of government; that human-induced climate change represents one of the greatest threats to humanity, civilisation, other species, and the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil, and ecosystems; and that it is possible to prevent the most harmful outcomes, if societies take sustained emergency action, including local councils.

  • Recognises that the potential for technology, expertise and capacity exists for humans to mitigate and adapt to this global challenge, but that collaboration and action is essential.
  • Commits to examine how Council’s plans, policies and work programmes can address the climate emergency and ensure an emergency strategy is embedded into all future Council strategic plans.
  • Prioritises collaboration with the government, other councils and governing Bodies, iwi, business, industry and scientific sectors, and with the wider community, in order to maximise collective action that will achieve climate change, mitigation, adaptation and resilience.
  • Recognises that transparency and accessibility of climate change information, along with education and participatory community engagement in collective action, will be essential to achieve climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

The Climate Emergency declaration emphasises Council’s intention to play a key role in leading the community toward a resilient and low emissions future and implementing adaptive measures that help to manage and minimise risk.

By making the declaration, Council committed to look at how its plans, policies and work programmes can support action to address the climate emergency and ensure that is embedded in all future Council strategic plans. This declaration was a strong signal to our community of the importance of this issue and the urgent need for collective action.

Further action was undertaken as part of the 2019 Annual Plan, when additional resources and funding were provided to enable Council and the community to work more closely together on climate issues. To date a number of community-led and Council-led projects have accessed funding from the Climate Reserve that was established through that Annual Plan process.

The importance to Council and community of responding to the challenges of climate change is also reflected in the Te Tauihu Intergenerational Strategy.

This strategy, led by Wakatū Incorporation in partnership with councils, iwi and stakeholders from across the Top of the South, includes climate change and regenerative outcomes as a priority area.

The vision for the Strategy is that we will be good ancestors reflecting the fact that the primary impacts of climate change will be faced by our descendants. The Strategy also helped inform Council’s 2021 Long Term Plan and the actions in this plan contribute to the Te Tauihu Intergenerational Strategy outcomes.

As Council does more to reduce emissions, our performance will be tracked against all targets and this information will be included on our website. This will form an important accountability mechanism for measuring Council’s work in addressing climate change.

With this Plan, Council is demonstrating its commitment to action and putting climate change front and centre in its work programmes and decision making.

Side by side with willing partners we will work to respond to the challenge of climate change, creating a more resilient and sustainable future for Nelson.