Yesterday we challenged current Councillors and new candidates to answer ten questions following the declaration of a Climate Emergency that was heavy on politics and light on detail.
Conor Hill is a potential Mayoral candidate that has his own blog here, filled with various ideas about how the city can be made better. You can find his official Facebook Page here.
These are his answers.
Do you support the airport extension?
I do not support the airport extension. It is not commercially viable anyhow. My thinking is outlined here I would probably be up for selling the third and using that money to fund things we actually need more of.
What would you do to get our bus service back and people using it again?
I would introduce congestion charging and charge for all on street parking. The money raised would be used to increase public transport services as well as investment in cycle ways. A stage 1 of congestion charging is outlined here, and I would eventually extend this to include all people coming in to the cbd, using the town belt as the border for the most part. Here are my thoughts on why we should charge for all on street parking. t’s also important to note that there are 400 million odd car journeys in the Wellington region. A very very large chunk of those could be substituted for bike and public transport and that should be our goal.
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?
I have not thought about this yet. Cruise ships do not yet feature as a large part of Wellington’s emission as outlined on page 40 here. In general I work on the 80/20 rule, and in this case it is deal with the 80% of carbon emissions (transport emissions and electricity) first.
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?
I support a city that has zoning for many more homes of many more types, a capital gains tax reinvested in social homes, and good public transport to service these initiatives. Collectively these are brilliant for reducing carbon emissions and for providing more affordable housing and transport options. A win win win for people on low fixed incomes.
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?
I am against the convention centre and airport runway and arena plans. I would not build any new private vehicle roads. Priority one for me in terms of big ticket buildings is a Library, and light rail from a transport perspective. I do not know enough to say how our water and wastewater are.
What will you do to ensure that the Council itself adopts measures to assist in this emergency, and what would those practically be ?
I believe the plans I make which disincentivise car travel and make public transport more attractive will work to reduce the emissions of all Wellingtonians including council staff. Fundamentally we should work on the most efficient carbon reductions first, be they directly council related or not.
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?
I’m not there yet. I believe we should spend our energy reducing carbon emissions.The idea that we plan for a hilltop Wellington connected by ferries because we’ve had 10 metres of sea level rise is too defeatist for me.
Do you think that a Carbon Zero city is realistic in the time-frames stated, and what three major changes would you make to set us on that path?
Only with work from the government and GWRC as well. For instance electricity is a major carbon emitter and I believe the lowest hanging fruits there are at a national level. At a local level transport is where we can be most effective, but even this requires input from GWRC. I would like to see
2. Vast increases in cycle ways and public transport.
3. Providing an additional tax on jet fuel and using that money to fund lower north island regional rail.
4. I would like the government to underwrite the green bond initiative the greens have suggested so it could be financed at central government rates rather than local government rates, saving us debt servicing costs. Admittedly most of these need some input from government or GWRC.
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 would like to first encourage places with large roof spaces that are used during the day to use solar, as currently that is best given solar constraints (at times of peak home power use such as winter nights there is no sun).
Really that means schools and retailers at this point, not homeowners. I would love to see Bay of Plenty and Northland microgrids based around solar with geothermal as the battery and baseload. But that is beyond Wellington’s scope. Though would love to see some provincial growth fund money go into an idea like this.
Really I think the electricity issue is an easily solvable one in NZ, but at a national level. It involves phasing out Tiwai and Huntly.
Describe personally what you are going to do to respond to this climate emergency.
I have no car, and walk and take the bus most places. While I eat some meat, at home we are pescatarian. My biggest vice in this regard is flying, which I do need to reduce.
Conor outlines solutions to the Climate Emergency in plain English. We like that. There is none of the usual political double-speak that is common with other candidates. This makes it very easy for the resident to consume and ensures there is no confusion in what he would do as Mayor.
Conor has a few fresh ideas along with tweaks on some ideas that are being wheel-barrowed around by others. It shows that some thought (read his blog) and research has gone into what he thinks is good for the city.
Conor’s answers are honest and up-front. If he doesn’t understand something, he says that he doesn’t, rather than making stuff up.
We said we were going to score respondents on honesty, practical plans & strategies, and metrics (how we measure it.)
We give Conor a solid 80 out of 100. Honesty rates highly, solutions are practical and easy to understand, and it’s clear he’s researched well. Where we took points off is around metrics. I suspect that all respondents are going to struggle here. Somehow, you have to baseline your ideas in terms of numbers (i.e. how many people use the bus service prior to it being changed for the better and how many people use it afterwards) and that is no easy feat. Those metrics not only show residents that things are improving, hopefully, but are a way in which we can hold candidates accountable post election.