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Wellington declares climate emergency

Wellington has become the latest city to declare a climate emergency.

People at the council meeting calling for it to declare a climate emergency. Photo: RNZ / Charlotte Cook

The declaration was adopted at a meeting of the Wellington City Council this morning.

The councillors have also been considering a new strategy to make the city carbon neutral by 2050.

Five other councils, including Auckland and Nelson, have already declared climate emergencies.

Critics say in many cases those councils are not doing anything more than they have already been doing.

Daily podcast The Detail looks into whether declaring a climate change emergency will actually help.


Wellington City Council has declared an ecological and climate emergency as it adopts a blueprint for becoming a zero carbon city. The climate emergency declaration was made at the City Strategy Committee meeting today. It means the Council will put protection of our environment and climate change at the front and centre of its decision-making.

“Wellington City Council accepts the best scientific evidence that we must now step up and take further action as climate change bites,” says Mayor Justin Lester. “A declaration confirms our ambition to place a climate change lens on everything we do. The Council has led on efforts to curb emissions since 2007 and today we commit to do more.”

Councillors were also adopting Te Atakura – First to Zero, a blueprint for Wellington becoming a Zero Carbon Capital by 2050. It went out for consultation earlier this year which means the Declaration will be supported by an action plan.

Te Atakura attracted more than 1250 submissions. There was very strong support for the Council to act on climate change with more than nine of 10 submitters agreeing the city must become net carbon zero by 2050.

Four out of five want the target reached earlier and there was a lot of support for better active and public transport; nature and green space; and a zero-emissions fleet.

“People are saying they want us to flip the transport system on its head – we need to change the fundamentals of the way we move,” the Mayor says.

Councillor Iona Pannett, who holds the infrastructure and sustainability portfolio, says “the Declaration should be seen as a symbol of hope and a response to the thousands of Wellingtonians who have called for action on climate change.

“There are many positive solutions to the problem of climate change which will have multiple benefits for the city. It’s about us making greener, low-carbon options easy for people to use, such as better options for recycling and composting and transport, such as walking, cycling and mass transit and transport; planning for denser living and building strong, resilient buildings.”

The Council will also look at investing in a fund to protect infrastructure from sea level rise, planting more trees to absorb increased rainfall and better buying policies to buy more green goods such as electric vehicles,” she said.

Details of Te Atakura and the Declaration are available here:

-News from Wellington City Council