“The role of the local government sector into the future could be as a trusted broker of quality information on the projected site-specific effects of climate change and to work with others to help communities in their adaptation process.”
The New Zealand Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM) released a climate change report that discusses the role and responsibilities of local government to respond to climate change. The report says that “Local authorities have statutory responsibilities to adapt to, and help the community to adapt to, the effects of climate change.”
The report cites the IPCC’s 5th Assessment report on climate change and the recent actions of New Zealand government to review its Emission Trading Scheme and the announcement of its nationally determined contribution (NDC) to reduce emissions. These recent developments make it ‘timely’ for local governments to respond to climate change risks through adaptation and mitigation, the report says.
Climate change effects will impact the local council’s functions and responsibilities particularly its water security, coastal communities, and natural ecosystems. These will be long-term impacts and would need a sustainable and consistent response from local councils.
What is inside the report
- A summary of the science of climate change from the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report, the New Zealand Climate Change Centre (NZCCC) and the recent global record temperatures from international scientific organisations like NASA and others showing that global temperature is increasing in the last century.
- Discuss the roles and requirements of local government to do adaptation and mitigation as mandated by the Resource Management Act 1991, Local Government Act 2002 and the national policy statements.
- Identify vulnerable sectors particularly important and significant to local councils such as water security, coastal communities, and natural ecosystems. The vulnerability of these sectors is based on their low adaptive capacity and limited coping thresholds for just a temperature rise of 1.5C or 2C. Adaptation strategies for vulnerable sectors will require coordination from across municipalities and central governments with a focus on priorities and needs of each council or region.
Other notable roles of councils such as (1) Natural hazards management that provides for the establishment of an infrastructure strategy to identify and manage infrastructure risks to the climate change effects, (2) Resource allocation and land use planning particularly those at risk for climate change. (3) Working with the Maori and building a working relationship with them on climate adaptation, especially that majority of their cultural sites and buildings are vulnerable to climate change impacts. (4) Managing uncertainty and liability. For future developments in areas at risk with future sea-level rise, councils should adhere to government guidelines or commission an independent work to establish sea-level rise projections. The Insurance Council of New Zealand also suggests that councils should deny consent application to areas with a growing risk from natural hazards to avoid liabilities.
The report also discusses climate change adaptation opportunities that councils can take such as new practices, new ideas and innovation to help New Zealand to cope with unique situations and building resilience against climate change impacts.
It emphasises the crucial role of local governments as a trusted provider of information and to assist the community to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
You can read the entire report by clicking on the button below:
A Guide for Councils to Include Climate Change into their Long Term Plans (LTPs)
The Society of Local Government Managers has published a guidance report on how councils can include climate change into their 2021-31 Long Term Plans (LTPs). The guidance “reflects the approaches that councils might take to reflecting the issues, risks and opportunities that climate change may pose for the community”.
Local councils in New Zealand have recognized that climate change is a ‘significant future issue’ and will affect the council’s delivery of services to the community, including infrastructures like roads, and water systems, according to the guidance report. Seventeen councils have announced climate emergencies as of June 2020 (Climate change, 2020).
How can councils integrate climate change into its long-term plans (LTPs)?
The Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM) suggests that the councils LTPs for 2021 to 31 should reflect the following:
- the effects of climate change;
- impacts of climate change on the council and on the community;
- what are the major issues, risks, and opportunities;
- what are the big decisions the council and the community need to take and
- when, and what the consequences are;
Click on the button below to read the SOLGM Guidance report for NZ councils:
Who Is the SOLGM?
The Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM) is the NZ’s national membership organisation for local government professionals. The society promotes and supports professional management in local government, providing professional leadership, promoting innovation and excellence in management practice and developing Local Government capability to enhance service delivery to our local communities, throughout NZ (Who are we, 2020).