‘‘It’s here, it’s with us, and we need to make sure we respond to it.’’
That is the message from Waitaki District Council chief executive Alex Parmley, who says the council wants to do more to mitigate the effects of climate change.
At present, the council does not have a formal climate change programme nor a designated role, but Mr Parmley hoped a climate change officer position would be established within the next year.
‘‘We see that climate change is part of lots of people’s roles — but we do think that there might be a benefit in having a designated climate change officer who is responsible for leading the work in terms of how the council responds to [climate change], but also working with the community,’’ he said.
Mr Parmley said there was provisional funding in the long-term plan that could be used to establish the role.
‘‘We have extreme constraints on our resources, but we want to do more and we will endeavour to do more,’’ he said.
‘‘This is something we can’t lose sight of.’’
The council’s active responses to climate change included work to protect the coast around the Kakanui River mouth, making coastal roads more resilient to erosion, adapting infrastructure surrounding rivers affected by increased flooding and areas in Oamaru’s North End affected by high-intensity rain events, and tending to coastal landfills to prevent them from washing into the sea.
While there was not a section of the council’s long-term plan dedicated to its climate-change response, the issue was a ‘‘key consideration’’ throughout the document.
The council had a strategic framework that identified meeting climate change and environmental challenges as a key outcome, Mr Parmley said.
Through its consent process, the council would endeavour to minimise carbon outputs from new developments, while ensuring they were resilient to the effects of climate change.
The council was working at a regional level with the Otago Regional Council and Environment Canterbury to quantify carbon emissions within the Waitaki district and reduce them.
Most of Waitaki’s greenhouse gas emissions came from the farming and industrial sectors, but was mitigated ‘‘in some respects’’ by forestry and carbon forests, Mr Parmley said
‘‘Every organisation, including all councils, have responsibility in terms of dealing with climate change and adapting to it,’’ Mr Parmley said.
‘‘Climate change is with us and is going to have a big impact on our organisations.’’