Climate change and resilience
One of the challenges for the region is how to balance existing built-up areas, a continuing demand to build in coastal and/or hazard prone areas and risks that this brings with rising sea levels.
Some regions are already being and likely to become more impacted by climate change in the future. Key parts of the transport system are extremely, very high, or highly vulnerable to earthquake, tsunami, or storm risk.
The region has a good base with regards to the natural environment but increasing pressures from development, coupled with higher expectations for better environmental outcomes and lower emissions mean we will need to do better.
These are the climate change and resilience initiatives in our 3-year work programme.
1. Regional emissions reduction plan
A regional action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a net-zero carbon and regenerative economy.
2. Regional approach to planning for and managing climate change impacts
A regional approach to planning for and managing climate change impacts. This will include a regional risk and opportunities assessment framework to apply to growth activities, considering inter-related risks to natural ecosystems, physical assets and infrastructure, the economy and society (including human health, safety and well-being, and cultural life and identity) and identify areas of retreat, protection and where to limit growth.
3. West-East access, housing, and resilience investigation
This project explores opportunities that an improved/new west-east multi modal connection would provide for transport (people and freight), resilience, movement within the region, housing and urban development uplift potential, and business areas. It provides the opportunity to future proof the region with alternatives for transport, urban development, and resilience.
4. Structure plans and master plans
These all include looking at the emissions reduction opportunities within the planning opportunities and in particular ensuring that emissions do not get “locked in”, as well as avoiding development in climate vulnerable locations.
There are a number of climate change and resilience projects already underway in the region.
Local government, central government and iwi organisations are or have undertaken work on understanding their own, city-wide, district-wide and regional carbon footprints. Both regional councils regularly report on climate change projections for the region, and to a catchment scale.
Councils in the region have announced a climate change emergency and have emissions reductions targets in place while others have or are developing strategies and plans to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change impacts. A range of community activities are being undertaken, such as the installation of EV charging stations, community and sector education and awareness campaigns. Recent Long Term Plan deliberations have featured a strong focus on climate change.
Work on understanding climate change impacts and their implications has been undertaken such as the ‘Wellington Lifelines Project – Protecting Wellington’s Economy through accelerated infrastructure investment PBC’ and “Preparing Coastal Communities for Climate Change – Assessing coastal vulnerability to climate change, sea level rise and natural hazards”, in addition to other pieces of research. Under its Takutai Kapiti project, the Kapiti Coast District Council has established a coastal community assessment panel to consider coastal climate impacts.
Separate assessments of assets at risk due to climate change impact in the region have been undertaken. This includes three waters assets and the transport system.
Councils are actively advocating to Central Government on climate change issues to seek strong integration between national direction and local implementation.
These climate change and resilience projects are at the planning stage and are likely to be implemented in the future.
Some iwi in the region are beginning work on understanding their cultural and other assets at risk.
Development of procurement and reporting processes which require robust consideration of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Expanded community and sector engagement on mitigation and adaptation and the introduction of community funds to encourage innovation.
Accelerating the transition to electrify Council vehicle fleets and implementing energy and water audits for Council facilities.
City and District Councils are seeking to better integrate climate change into district plan reviews.
Both regional councils are seeking to better integrate climate change into their Regional Policy Statement.