WCC Climate Emergency Declaration; The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. Open questions for Councillors and Candidates (one week deadline).

All week we’ve been hearing that declaring a Climate Emergency is akin to being in a building on fire and finally flicking the fire alarm switch.

Following the same analogy, the City Council did just that. However, there is no plan to follow through on, so, in our analogy, we are now all just standing around in the same burning building but being deafened by fire alarms.

A lot of emotional debate was had on whether the WCC should declare or not. Most of it stuff we already knew. The earth is burning, the sea is boiling, the air is poisoned, and our water resources are rapidly dwindling where they haven’t been contaminated.

Sounds like time for a plan. Well, following the declaration here was the extent of what happens next, which is tantamount to nothing.

A declaration confirms our ambition to place a climate change lens on everything we do. 

Wellington declares ecological and climate emergency

What, like the Eye of Sauron? On everything we do? It’s a principle, not a plan. And they didn’t need to declare an emergency to create a principle, any highly paid Human Resources wonk could have just slipped it into the usual nonsense that no one ever bothers reading.

“People are saying they want us to flip the transport system on its head – we need to change the fundamentals of the way we move,” the Mayor says.

Wellington declares ecological and climate emergency

Well they did that already! After two decades of an average bus service, they burned it down and got a tonne of people back into cars. Good luck getting them out again.

And let’s get the language straight here, there is no plan. The talk about a “blueprint for a zero carbon city”, but none exists. They talk about the ambition of thinking about the climate at each decision point, but not what that means. They talked about it being a symbol of hope, that one really does my head in.

Hope is about having a plan. Otherwise there is no hope. Symbols of hope arise when there is a strategy, plan, and success.

Even Extinction Rebellion agrees with me today.

The global movement Extinction Rebellion, or XR, has told the Wellington City Council it must follow its declaration of a climate and ecological emergency with strong action. The council this morning declared the twin emergencies, becoming the 6th Council in New Zealand to do so.†

XR spokesperson tells council: climate action needed urgently

What’s particularly galling is the massive amount of politicking around this.

There is nothing more desperate than a Councillor trying to get back around the big table and nothing more pathetic than a candidate rolling in party politics to try and pull some unlucky fool out to create a place.

Every Councillor and Candidate should have condemned this declaration as yet another Emperor’s New Clothes initiative and a total failure to the ailing environment. There is zero accountability because there is no plan and it can be brushed under the carpet once the dust settles from the Pollyanna Press Releases.

In my opinion, you had the opportunity to create a plan, declare an emergency, and act. You have done no such thing. You have failed.

Am I angry? Hell yes. I come from a long line of environmentalists who put considerable effort into changing attitudes over decades. My grandfather said to me that the only two things that keep us alive are the air we breathe and eight inches of topsoil.

So, we are inviting Councillors and candidates to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to the environment. Below are ten questions that you can answer and email back to us. We’ll publish your responses, individually, and unedited. We’ll also publicise and push those to our other media contacts.

We’ll also publish those who do not respond.

Then we’ll score you. You’ll get points for honest answers (yeah, it’s tough), points for practical plans & strategies, and points for metrics. Metrics is where you make statements, we can hold you to account for later.

So, here’s your first ten questions;

  1. You own a third of the airport, which is one of the largest polluters in the city both in terms of air travel and the sheer amount of traffic that heads to and from it, do you support the airport extension? Many of you have dodged going on the record with this yes or no question and it’s time to get off the fence because people have been constantly asking where you stand.
  2. The bus debacle has no doubt increased emissions in the city by (literally) driving people back into their cars. What are you going to do to get us our bus service back and people back onto public transport?
  3. There is growing awareness of the pollution that the rapid increase in tourism is causing, a notable example is the dozens of cruise ships that are arriving in more numbers each year, how will you offset those impacts?
  4. How will you stop the cost impact of responding to climate change to people who are already struggling to live in a very expensive city? Lower income earners and the elderly in particular.
  5. Do you think that there is enough money being budgeted for the fundamentals such as increasing the resiliency of infrastructure over large ticket projects such as the Convention Centre? Would you change that priority, and how?
  6. What will you do to ensure that the Council itself adopts measures to assist in this emergency, and what would those practically be? I.e. Electric vehicles, less air travel for staff, and other measures.
  7. Climate Mitigation Planning is critical as many international cities have identified and acted on. What would the bones of a Climate Mitigation Plan look like for you?
  8. Do you think that a Carbon Zero city is realistic in the timeframes stated, and what three major changes would you make to set us on that path?
  9. Would you consider subsidies on technologies that would reduce the cost to homeowners for energy while helping the environment and if yes, what would those be? I.e. Solar Power.
  10. Describe personally what you are going to do to respond to this climate emergency. I.e. But an electric vehicle, use more public transport, and the like.

So, get to it, and let’s see who has a vision and who is politicking. You might as well get used to this, you’re going to get dozens of these as the elections progress from various people.

You can use the contact form to send in your response or email one of our curators directly here: ian.apperley@tempestgroup.consulting We’ll confirm when we receive your feedback, if you don’t hear from us then please contact using the form to check.

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