Overview and examination of strategic planning for climate change by TLAs (2011)
Climate change has become one of the most contested issues of the 21st century. The global impacts of climate change are already becoming evident and it is inevitable that more changes are to come, which will have significant implications on many aspects of New Zealand. Although climate change is occurring, there are ways in which people can mitigate or adapt to the changes. As such, it is important that governmental authorities successfully enforce mitigation and adaption strategies. Mitigation involves processes that alleviate the effects of climate change, thus reducing the risks that are posed by future change. Mitigation is most effective when applied by larger nations through instruments such as carbon taxes <ref>Fitzharris, B. (2010) Climate Change Impacts on Dunedin. [Online] Available from: http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/your-council/latest-news/april-2010/warmer,-wetter,-windier-climate-change-report-highlights-citys-at-risk-areas [Accessed 10th September 2011].</ref>. Adaption is an iterative process that involves raising awareness, evaluating and monitoring situations, conducting risk assessments, and the development of knowledge, data and tools to understand changes in climate and the likely impacts <ref>Fitzharris, B. (2010) Climate Change Impacts on Dunedin. [Online] Available from: http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/your-council/latest-news/april-2010/warmer,-wetter,-windier-climate-change-report-highlights-citys-at-risk-areas [Accessed 10th September 2011].</ref>.
Territorial Local Authorities (TLAs), which include both regional and district or city Councils, have a legal obligation to consider the effects of Climate change under four acts of parliament. They are, the Local Government Act 2002, the Resource Management Act 1991, the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, and the Climate Change Response Act 2002.
The aims of this report were to overview and examine strategic planning for climate change by unitary authorities within New Zealand. The objectives of this report are
- Examine and overview the strategic planning for climate change by five unitary authorities within New Zealand- Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin City Councils and the Marlborough Regional Council
- Compare the five different unitary authorities in order to determine which has been the most effective at mitigating and adapting to climate change.
- As such, this report will detail the strengths and weaknesses of each council response, and from this the best management strategies can be determined.
In synthesis of the above findings, a range of approaches were found between TLAs in their response to the climate change problem. In terms of mitigating climate change, both Wellington and Hamilton Councils have demonstrated a clear effort in terms of reducing emissions and in this regard it appears other Councils could learn from this. Other Councils have plans in place for curbing climate change however in most cases little evidence of implementation was found. In the case of Marlborough District Council it appears very little strategic planning or explicit regard to climate change has been made in any plans or policies. With the exception of Hamilton, even the most in-depth mitigation strategies fail to incorporate an element of monitoring for effectiveness and there is little consideration of whether mitigation strategies imposed would adhere to the national or local emissions targets over any extended period of time. It has been argued in research that local government adaptation strategies should take priority over mitigation strategies and mitigation should rather be a national focus. In this regard the overall Council response to the problem in New Zealand is concerning, with very little satisfactory evidence found that any local Council has detailed plans or policy in place to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. It appears from the analysis here, the best management strategy would be one that considers both integration of mitigation and adaptation with increased communication between local and regional councils as well as between councils of different regions.