Kapiti Declares Climate Emergency

The Kapiti Council chamber was filled with clapping when the councillors unanimously voted to declare a climate change emergency.

More than 30 supporters of the move, many from the Low Carbon Kapiti organisation had packed  into the room.

Kapiti DC becomes the third council, after Nelson and Christchurch to make the move which has no legal enforcement.

Cr John Howson

‘Should have done this years ago,’ Cr Howson

Councillor John Howson who proposed the motion said he was embarrassed to have listened to the speakers, including school children talking about the perils of climate change. Councillors should have done this years ago.

Howson also said any councillors who doubted climate change was real, should move to Greymouth where the evidence for climate change has been questioned at West Coast regional council meetings.

Cr Mike Cardiff said he had flown through Dubai one of the world’s busiest airports which produces millions of tonnes of carbon and other emissions. The problem in New Zealand was at a much lower level.

Cardiff said he would vote ‘yes’ but something would have to happen as a result of the vote.

‘Progress reports ahead,’– CEO

KCDC CEO Wayne Maxwell said councillors would be given progress reports.

Howson noted that what was proposed for Kapiti was a drop in the ocean but it was “our ocean’.

Mayor Gurunathan noted that some 1800 properties along the Kapiti coast faced potential problems from rising sea levels.

Thank you for your comments and very fair questions Salima, I have written a letter to the Editor Kapiti News today in response to a similar question. In council we are constantly told staff numbers (and salary costs) are an operational issue which is none of our business. We are free to ask questions about capital expenditure (Capex) but not operational expenditure (Opex), so last week I asked again for the written legislation behind this commonly used directive. (Note the last time I asked it could not be provided).

I can say we have been told there would be many more staff if contractors weren’t regularly used to undertake (extra) work, ie consultation or the preparing of extra reports we! have requested… or where the current staff simply don’t have the expertise in a particular field. I agree Salima that the cost of staff is a considerable cost to the council and one that we need to be able to ask questions about to be able to work on answers.

Secondly debt levels. We have held this 2nd highest place for many years (since the Aquatic Centre build, Council building upgrade, water meter installation and River Recharge project development all at once.
Councils were encouraged to spend big and repay with intergenerational debt. Even the Government economists have since agreed they were clearly wrong, all the ratepayers, pay, bigtime from day 1. What I have done about it since then, with my vote, is be prudent and careful when it comes to any capital expenditure decisions. Some things have been unavoidable, ie: Paekakariki seawall. Some things looming – Waikanae Library building and the Te Newhunga Community Centre. Some items achieved with partnerships ie: Kapiti College Performing Arts Centre instead of a council built and owned one. The Kapiti Lights/ Coastlands redevelopment, The Expressway shared pathways and Ride and Stride programme and ZEAL, instead of the council trying to manage a youth centre alone. And some things looked after, instead of being bulldozed, because they are great community assets with an identified issue, ie: Otaki Pool roof replacement. Te Atiawa Courts resurfacing, Paraparaumu College hall roof replacement. This has been over the past 5years. The complete wastes of money in my book would be the bringing forward of major development of Otaraua Park (should be 35 – 50yr project), the sheer cost of the McLean Park consultation process neither of which I voted for, and the Waikanae Town Centre redevelopment which just seemed to go around in circles, and isn’t producing any tangible differences. Yet….. I should wait. So in five years of not throwing money around, we have $9.2M less debt today than we were projected to in the Long Term plan. Rates are still projected to rise annually and debt repayment will continue for the very long haul I’m afraid. And I guess if I look back on the last five years, I would say, luckily I’m not into trophy projects, because there has been nothing like the wanton spending of previous councils. Sorry Salima for the very long answer, fel free to ask further questions.

I applaud Councillor Elliott for her stance on Climate Change.

I only wish she would be just as passionate and committed to the issue of Council Finances and the fact that the Auditor General has clearly stated that KCDC is the second most indebted Council in NZ. I do remember during the last election, many candidates include Councillor Elliott were committed to ensuring Kapiti would be reviewing the issue of rates and in particular, Council Finances.

Can we expect to hear from her on what she is committed to doing in terms of over-staffing at Council – the highest in comparison to 11 other Councils in the North Island while she is still a Councillor?

During debate Cr Howson is reported as saying ‘Councilors should have done this years ago’. But council has had many opportunities over the past two trieniums to support such a move and they didn’t. In 2013 the very first report I requested back to council was a summary of green-house gas producing infrastructure in K.C.D.C’s assets and the effects of global warming worldwide. Council failed to support any moves I made to vote on change.
I also proposed the organisation adopt and Electric Vehicle first policy when replacing staff fleet vehicles. One EV was purchased Five years later, despite repeat requests at every annual plan, the number of EV fleet vehicles remains at one and much lobbying about the long term cost savings.
I have continued to make the same request to council for five years and especially after the Government funding was made made available for companies and organisations . Even as recently as last years long term plan workshops, environmental sustainability was the first priority objective I included into the pool. Without the support of my fellow councilors it was removed at the very next workshop.
Council management are now expected to report back to councillors on practical and sustainable steps in pursuit of the goal of carbon neutrality and there is much improvement to be made. I ensured this new collective commitment was written into the introduction of the new annual plan we accepted at the same meeting.

Footnote- Results of my OIA this week. The council has purchased a further four petrol powered under 2000cc fleet cars in the past five years, despite saying they had only purchased one. This could have been one electric vehicle for every year have been asking. Districtwide Councillor Jackie Elliott. For further Information feel free to contact me on 0210452762

This is absolute virtue signalling nonsense. Carbon dioxide is plant food, vital for all life on earth. Our emissions are actually helping to grow the crops we need to feed the world’s population.

There are two parts to climate change action. One is urgently reducing emissions. The other is planning for mitigating the now inevitable serious effects of climate change.
While the former is calling for drastic action, it is my view that without a global effort this is futile. However the second is going to affect all of us across the district, and probably more intensely year on year. This is where we need real leadership. And we need it NOW.

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