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Thursday, 17 March 2022

Council adopts draft Climate and Biodiversity Plan

The draft plan was adopted at todays' Full Council meeting and will be open for community feedback from Monday 21 March.

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Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) today adopted the draft Climate and Biodiversity Plan 2022-2025 at the Full Council meeting and will be seeking community feedback from Monday 21 March.

The draft plan, which sets out how the district is going to respond to climate change, includes more than 60 actions. These range from reducing carbon emissions through more effective land-use planning and infrastructure design, to regenerating native forest, as well as district-wide goals including a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 44% by 2030* and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Council’s climate action team began developing the draft plan in April 2021, building on the first Climate Action Plan 2019-2022 | Te Mahere Āhurangi o Ngā Tau 2019-2022.

It has involved extensive engagement with a wide range of community groups, not-for-profit organisations, partner agencies and the district’s Climate Reference Group.

Katherine Durman, QLDC’s climate action programme manager, said the Climate Reference Group, made up of community leaders and climate experts, had been particularly instrumental in the development of the plan, and advocating for a stronger focus on biodiversity.

“We took that on board and included it into our goal to see indigenous biodiversity regenerated and the mauri (life force or essence) of our ecosystems protected and restored,” said Ms Durman.

“Biodiversity creates healthy ecosystems, supports clean air and water, helps to increase plant pollination, carbon sequestration and much more.”

The plan also features an emissions profile for the district, predicted climate impacts, and an overview of the climate action work done to date.

Many of the actions in the plan require close partnerships with other agencies, communities and conservation groups.

For example, Otago Regional Council is responsible for operating the public transport system, however QLDC has a role to play in providing the infrastructure and influencing policy decisions for the best possible outcomes for residents.

“While this is a district-wide plan, we do also have a lot of actions around embedding climate change into Council decision making, this includes in our business cases, policies, and planning work. Some of the actions are quite technical and delve into the nitty-gritty for subject-matter experts, such as procurement and building materials, while others are broader, such as pledging our commitment to the international effort to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” Ms Durman said.

Bill Nicoll, QLDC’s Risk and Resilience Manager said responding to climate change isn’t easy.

“We know it will require significant behavioural change in everything we do as a community, from how we move around, how we work, and how we live and play. We’ve been up front in the plan about the challenges we think we face – both as a Council and as a district – which include our reliance on tourism, and our growing population,” said Mr Nicoll.

Alongside mitigation and biodiversity in the plan is a focus on adaptation.

“Our goal is for Queenstown Lakes to be a place that is ready and prepared to adapt to a changing climate. We are already seeing changing weather patterns here and around the country, often with extreme consequences such as flooding, wildfire, and drought. One of the ideas that’s important to us is ensuring that our communities are resilient to these challenges and that people don’t get left behind as we start to transition to new technologies, new ways of getting around, working, and living,” said Mr Nicoll.

Mayor Jim Boult said he endorsed the draft plan and was inspired by the passion he saw in the community to respond to climate change, such as local initiatives to reduce waste and move towards a circular economy.

“The changes we make now and in the next few years are fundamental in reducing the impacts of climate change. This is not something that Council can or should address alone. I’m eager to see this plan step our response up a gear and I’m looking forward to seeing what feedback we receive,” Mayor Boult said.

Bridget Legnavsky, Chair of Queenstown Lakes Climate Reference Group said the group helped to evaluate best practice in Aotearoa New Zealand and globally.

“This has been a wonderful and hugely passionate team who have dedicated their time to create change for something so important to us all now, but even more importantly to our children and future,” said Ms Legnavsky.

Ms Durman said the plan belonged to the district and she encouraged people to provide feedback.

“This plan will set our direction on climate change for the next three years. We’re urging community groups, businesses, young people and all our residents to have a look at this plan and let us know what they think.”

*Against a 2019 baseline and aligned with the 1.5 degree science-based target pathway outlined in the 2020 Emissions Reduction Roadmap.

ENDS|KUA MUTU.

Media contact: communications@qldc.govt.nz or call 03 441 1802.

FURTHER INFORMATION | Kā pāroko tāpiri:

Read the draft Climate and Biodiversity Plan 2022-2025 here: https://www.qldc.govt.nz/your-council/climate-change-and-biodiversity

Public feedback opens Monday 21 March and runs until 5.00pm 25 April 2022. To provide feedback head to https://letstalk.qldc.govt.nz/climate-and-biodiversity-action-plan-2022

The draft 2022-2023 Annual Plan will also open for submissions on Monday 21 March, and it includes funding levels for climate action. https://letstalk.qldc.govt.nz/annual-plan-2022-23