Penny’s Piece October 2015

Penny Gaylor Otaki's KCDC councillor
Penny Gaylor
Otaki’s KCDC councillor

In last month’s column, I issued my annual challenge to encourage locals to buy their Christmas presents locally. So far I’ve purchased presents for half of my extended family, and all of these were bought in Ōtaki or Te Horo.

As the international community focuses on the Climate Change Conference in Paris, it’s timely to take stock of what we are doing here on the Kapiti Coast. There’s plenty that I’ve frequently covered in my columns, or at KCDC’s Environment and Community Development Committee which I chair.

And many stories have been run during the year in the Ōtaki Mail about the committed individuals and groups throughout our community who are campaigning, innovating and leading change to combat climate change.

Kāpiti Coast District Council has had its CEMARS (Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme) status reconfirmed for another year, which means we are measuring, reporting and managing our carbon footprint to the international standard.

Council’s emissions of greenhouse gases have been cut in half since we started thanks to investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency and changing the way we dispose of waste. It’s a great start but we’ll be cutting emissions even further in the years to come.

The Parliamentary Commissioner’s office has released its Report which focuses on sea level rise and the implications for low lying coastal New Zealand. A number of case studies are examined (including Kapiti) along with some scientific research which have helped inform a series of recommendations to the Government. Check it out at www.pce.parliament.nz Council has just signed the Local Government Leaders Climate Change Declaration.

Local Government NZ invited councils to sign this Declaration which will be presented to Climate Change Minister Tim Groser on the eve of the UN COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris, which begins on 28 November. The Declaration acknowledges the importance and urgency of addressing climate change, calls upon the Government to make and implement a ‘low carbon’ transition plan for the country in collaboration with all, and be more ambitious about reducing our nation’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which continue to increase.

As a signatory KCDC will continue to develop and implement ambitious action plans to reduce emissions and increase resilience within Councils and for local communities; which promote walking, cycling and public transport; improve resource-efficiency and the health of homes, businesses and infrastructure; support the use of renewable energy and the uptake of electric vehicles; work with communities to prepare for climate change impacts; and work with central government to deliver national emissions targets.

Our Council is already active in all of these areas, and within many we are leaders among NZ local government, so signing the Declaration will not put our Council out of step with its existing commitments. However the spirit of the Declaration is to renew our commitment to addressing climate change and environmental sustainability, and raising our level of ambition where possible. Given Council’s long history of taking a leadership role on climate change, it would be at odds with our communities’ expectations if Council didn’t sign up. The full text of the declaration can be found at www.lgnz.co.nz.