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Climate Emergency FAQ

Why did Council declare a climate emergency?

Council consulted on its programme to address climate change as part of developing its Annual Plan 2019/20 and received strong representations from our community about the need to do more and give the work higher priority. Council was also aware of the mounting advice from scientists and the United Nations that there is a small window for action to avoid the most damaging effects of climate change.

By declaring a climate emergency Council demonstrated that it is taking the climate challenge seriously and intends to take urgent and meaningful action.

The declaration states that:

Nelson City Council:

  1. Publicly declares that the world is in a state of climate emergency that requires urgent action by all levels of government; that human-induced climate change represents one of the greatest threats to humanity, civilisation, other species, and the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil, and ecosystems; and that it is possible to prevent the most harmful outcomes, if societies take sustained emergency action, including local councils.
  2. Recognises that the potential for technology, expertise and capacity exists for humans to mitigate and adapt to this global challenge, but that collaboration and action is essential.
  3. Commits to examine how Council’s plans, policies and work programmes can address the climate emergency and ensure an emergency strategy is embedded into all future Council strategic plans.
  4. Prioritises collaboration with the Government, other councils and Governing Bodies, iwi, business, industry and scientific sectors, and with the wider community, in order to maximise collective action that will achieve climate change, mitigation, adaptation and resilience.
  5. Recognises that transparency and accessibility of climate change information, along with education and participatory community engagement in collective action, will be essential to achieve climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilienc

Who else has declared a climate emergency?

Nelson City Council joins over 530 councils in ten countries in declaring a climate emergency, including Environment Canterbury, Auckland City, Christchurch City and Kapiti Coast. The UK and Irish Parliaments have also declared.

How does a climate emergency differ from a state of emergency?

A State of Emergency is declared under legislation and in response to a critical event (such as an earthquake or tsunami) which requires an immediate civil defence response.  It gives rise to formal duties and powers to support the civil defence effort. 

The climate emergency declared by Nelson City Council does not have legal effect and does not give rise to formal duties or powers.  It is, however, an important acknowledgement that climate change needs to be prioritised in Council policy, decision-making and action.  It also signals our intention to work alongside the community to achieve climate change mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions) and adaptation (adapting to the effects of climate change).

What will happen now that a climate emergency has been declared?

Council is taking action to make sure that climate change is a focus and priority throughout relevant policies, plans and activities. Council has approved funding of $254,000 in 2019/20 for climate change initiatives. It has also set aside a reserve of $500,000 for possible climate change initiatives.

This funding will enable us to work with the community on climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives.

To do this, we’re establishing a climate change forum and a task force to enable us to work with the community and other stakeholders.  We’re also creating a role for a climate change champion on our staff, which will help us to push forward with further climate change action.

What is Council doing about climate change?

Climate change is already factored into many of our plans, work programmes, and policies. For example, our active transport, waste minimisation, eco homes adviser service and environmental programmes contribute to climate change mitigation through promotion of sustainable energy use, tree planting, composting initiatives, wetland creation, waste reduction, and walking and cycling initiatives.

 We have undergone a Certified Emissions Management and Reduction (CEMARS) audit to help us understand how to reduce the organisation’s greenhouse gas emissions, and various projects to achieve this are under investigation or moving into implementation.

 Going forward, we will be accelerating our work on climate change using the extra resources outlined above.

Read more here.

What can I do about Climate Change?

Council encourages everyone to think about actions you can take to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change – together we can make a big difference. Climate change action is also good for your bank balance, good for the environment and good for our community.

For more information on the actions you can take see: