Climate Change - What Council is Doing
A working group was set up in March 2020 to formulate a greenhouse gases emission reduction plan for Council emissions. This Group consists of our Mayor, Councillors Martin Rodley, Robyn Sinclair and Terry Walker, and Council staff.
It follows a “Notice of Motion - Climate Change Declaration" submitted by Councillor John Morrissey at the 24 March 2019 Council meeting.
The group has met five times and produced two reports:
- Thames-Coromandel District Council Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Management Plan, prepared by GHD – this is an inventory of emissions which are under Council’s control
- Thames-Coromandel District Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, prepared by EnviroStrat Ltd
Council supported the groups name change to the Sustainability and Resilience Group (SARG). It plans to look at emissions in relation to waste, which will help develop a greenhouse gases emission reduction plan.
Read a full update here
The local government sector in New Zealand has made it clear that Central Government must take the lead. Working with local government on what we do going forward to address climate change and its impacts.
In January 2018 our Council adopted and put in place the Government's Coastal Hazards and Climate Change Guidance for Local Government 2017. The Ministry for the Environment website contains much information, including assessments of climate change and its impacts on New Zealand.
We're advocating through LGNZ to central government. Asking them to lead the response for small coastal communities like ours when it comes to possible threats to infrastructure, private property, and the local economy.
We also work with Waikato Regional Council, who manage our region's water and coasts.
We have taken action to help reduce and stabilise the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (mitigation):
EV chargers - we worked with Charge Net and Powerco and with support from the EECA's Low Emissions Vehicle Contestable Fund established the Coromandel EV Scenic Touring Route. A network of five fast charging stations that provided EV drivers full access to the Coromandel. This has helped spur the uptake of EVs in the district, attracted EV-driving visitors here, and helped reduce CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions.
Our Mayor Sandra Goudie is championing electric vehicle use by driving a Toyota Camry electric hybrid as her mayoral car.
LED streetlights - we're reducing carbon emissions by switching our streetlights to LED lamps. These use less energy than the previous sodium and other lamp types. NZTA has contributed 85% of the replacement cost.
By 30 June 2019 we had saved:
- Approximately $90,000 worth of electrical power over our usage in 2017/18
- A extra $90,000 in maintenance
- Approximately 750,000 kWh, which equates to 100 tonnes of carbon not released into the atmosphere
This saving in electrical energy is equal to the power we use in our Council's main office building in Thames over 2.3 years.
Our Council is partnering with EECA and other Waikato councils through the Waikato Local Authority Shared Services to watch energy use at all our sites, investigate opportunities for energy efficiency improvements and increase the use of renewable energy - all will reduce carbon emissions and save ratepayers' money.
We're working to get people out of their cars by working with community groups and existing trail managers (such as the Hauraki Rail Trail) to create and improve walking and cycling infrastructure. Examples include the Coromandel Tracks and Trails Forum we held in November 2018 to bring together groups looking to develop tracks in their community, and our updated Your Coromandel Tracks and Trails Guide.
We've provided an affordable public bus service in Thames - the Thames Connector.
With community involvement we have planted and maintain thousands of trees in the World War One Memorial Forests. We work with schools and community groups to plant fruit trees and native tree species in suitable reserves as part of the Enviroschools and Trees for Survival programmes. We also work with Waikato Regional Council and community beach care groups to plant sand-binding native species on sand dunes to make them more resilient against erosion. Growing trees remove carbon dioxide from the air, store carbon in the trees and soil, and release oxygen into the atmosphere.
Our Council adopted the Coastal Management Strategy in June 2018. This sets out a range of initiatives we have begun to undertake. The 2018-2028 Long Term Plan includes $2.6 million over three years to help us put in place this strategy.
This approach to coastal management activity ensures a district-wide approach. It allows us to better-manage our coastline from a holistic and long-term perspective.
A major step in carrying out the Coastal Management Strategy is the development of Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs). In May 2019 our Council appointed international consultancy Royal HaskoningDHV to support the development of the SMPs.
Our district is the first in New Zealand to undertake the development of SMPs with active involvement of all stakeholders. SMPs have previously been developed in a couple of other locations in New Zealand, but never on the scale we have embarked on.
"The Coastal Management Strategy is something we have been working on for quite some time as part of our focus on ensuring our communities are engaged, prepared, protected and safe in the long-term," Mayor Sandra says.
The SMPs for Thames-Coromandel will be developed using Ministry for the Environment Guidelines for Councils. These take into account a 1.88m sea level rise by 2150, and by using the Dynamic Adaptive Pathway Planning (DAPP) tool, which sets out how to prepare for coastal change.
For our mitigation and adaptation measures to have the best chance of succeeding, we need good local data on what is happening. The government has funded significant research led by Prof Tim Naish and others through the NZ Sea Rise project. To apply global sea-level rise projections to New Zealand coasts which model potential impacts on coastal areas and groundwater systems. Thames is one of the areas of study. We are very grateful for this as the cost for this research far exceeds our ratepayers capacity to fund.