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Whangārei District Council wants the Government to take more leadership on climate change and bring forward its deadline for reducing the gases that cause climate change by 20 years.

The council is making a submission to the Government's Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill which has a target of reducing the country's greenhouse gases (except biogenic methane) to net zero by 2050.

Yesterday the council debated its submission to the bill and voted to approve the submission, but an amendment saw the council include a statement that it wanted the bill's zero emissions target brought forward to 2030.

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The Government has been developing a climate change programme to transition New Zealand toward a low emissions and climate resilient future. Key to this programme includes the proposed Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill. The original proposal was for a separate piece of legislation called the Zero Carbon Bill.

It has now decided to introduce it as an amendment to the current Climate Change Response Act 2002. This will ensure that all key climate legislation is within one act.

The amendment bill will do four key things; set a new greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to reduce all greenhouse gases (GHGs) except biogenic methane (from the agriculture and waste sectors) to net zero by 2050; set a series of five-year emissions budgets to act as stepping stones towards the long-term target; require the Government to develop and implement policies for climate change adaptation and establish a new, independent Climate Change Commission to provide expert advice and monitoring to help keep successive governments on track to meeting long-term goals.

School students across the country, including Whangārei, above, have marched twice this year calling for more action on climate change
School students across the country, including Whangārei, above, have marched twice this year calling for more action on climate change

The council's submission largely expressed support for the proposed bill and councillors said they wanted the Government to show more leadership on the issue, and also fund councils better so they could deal with it.

However, the council is not yet at the stage it can consider declaring the issue a climate emergency, as several other councils, including Auckland, Wellington Canterbury, Nelson and Dunedin, had done.

Catherine Murupaenga-Ikenn, from Extinction Rebellion Whangārei, made a presentation to the councillors urging them to join those other councils and declare a climate emergency, saying they could not afford not to.

''The window for incremental change has passed. It's a scientific fact, we are in the sixth mass extinction today. Ecological thresholds are being breached faster than you can say 'how's the weather','' she said.

''There are, according to experts, sufficient socio-economic indicators that we're already on the spectrum of civilisation decline. Now only positive radical action will do.''

Mayor Sheryl Mai said the council could not make a decision on declaring a climate emergency until the council directed the CEO to prepare a report on the issue to bring back to full council.