MEDIA RELEASE: Strategy sets out councils’ actions on climate change mitigation

2 July 2020

The Ruamāhanga Climate Change Strategy, developed jointly by South Wairarapa and Carterton District Councils, sets out the councils’ greenhouse gas emissions and the actions they will take to reduce them.

A draft of the Strategy had been adopted by the councils back in March 2020 but was awaiting the results of the Wellington Region Greenhouse Gas Inventory to be finalised. The finalised Strategy is now available on SWDC’s website alongside with the SWDC greenhouse gas inventory for 2018 (2019 will be available shortly).

SWDC’s Chief Executive Harry Wilson says the data provides a sound evidence base for the Strategy.

“Data from the Greenhouse Gas Inventory provides an important baseline from which we can measure the success of our Strategy. It shows which areas of council operations cause the greatest emissions and, therefore, where we need to focus our efforts to make the biggest difference.”

“Understanding that wastewater treatment ponds are the biggest source of emissions is partly behind the Council’s rethink on finding a more environmentally sustainable solution for Featherston’s wastewater upgrade.

“As part of implementing the Strategy, we’ll be putting a climate change lens over all our operations, including those of our partners and contractors. To this end, one of the first actions we’ll be taking is introducing a sustainable procurement policy” says Mr Wilson.

The Wellington Region greenhouse gas inventories, produced by AECOM on behalf of Greater Wellington Regional Council, also provide emissions data for the whole Wairarapa region and wider Wellington Region.

The results show Wairarapa has the highest gross emissions of all the cities and districts due to its comparatively large agricultural sector, which accounts for 78% of the region’s total gross emissions. The transport sector (e.g. road and rail) is the second largest emitter.

Wairarapa’s net emissions ranked only third highest in the Wellington Region despite having highest gross emissions, due to the large amount of forestry located in Wairarapa, which absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

While South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Bejien is pleased that Wairarapa’s gross emissions fell by 7% from 2001 to 2019, mainly due to a 14% decrease in agriculture emissions, but he is concerned with the upward trend for transport.

 “The worrying rise in transport emissions shows the need for better public transport networks for our region, and also points to the environmental benefits of a work-from-home model, which many employers have embraced since the Covid-19 lockdown.

“Climate change mitigation is everyone’s responsibility, and it’s only right that Council sets a good example by taking the necessary actions to reduce its emissions,” says Mr Beijen.

The development and implementation of the Ruamāhanga Climate Change Strategy is being led by Melanie Barthe, who was appointed Climate Change Advisor across the two councils in September 2019. Among other actions, SWDC will provide information during Conservation Week on what we, as individuals and as a community, can do to help reduce climate change.

The Strategy, and emissions data, is available at www.swdc.govt.nz/climate-change.

Greenhouse Gas inventories for the wider Wellington Region are available on Greater Wellington Regional Council Website.

ENDS

South Wairarapa District Council