More than half the region's population is prepared to pay more in rates to minimise the impact of climate change, a new survey has revealed.
The Climate Crisis Survey 2020, commissioned by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, found that climate change and its negative impacts, particularly drought, are of major concern to the region's community.
A total of 55 per cent of those surveyed were prepared to pay more in rates to minimise the impacts of climate change. Most supported reducing carbon and erosion through tree planting.
HBRC chief executive James Palmer said the
council was looking to plant more trees.
"It was interesting to see that people were more willing to pay for tree planting and flood protection than protecting coastal communities," he said.
"We're already doing a huge amount of work – from our scientists assessing climate impacts, to our advisers working with farmers to plant more trees, to our educators teaching sustainability in schools."
About 90 per cent of locals believe climate change is already occurring, and two-thirds want HBRC to do more to look after the environment and reduce the impact of climate change.
"Our local people care about our environment, they want action, and we need to mobilise together and tackle this head-on," Palmer added.
Only 12 per cent of residents regularly use public transport and
67 per cent said they were unlikely to use public transport to reduce car use in the next 12 months.
Palmer said HBRC is focused on getting more people on the goBay bus service, as well as supporting recreational and commuter cycling on the 200km Hawke's Bay Trails
"Some survey respondents told us that cost and lack of alternatives can be barriers to taking action," he said. "So we see our role as educating and enabling the community to take action and work together.
"But people are taking action to reduce their impact on the environment because they are concerned about future generations."
HBRC chairman Rex Graham said "positive and brave conversations" must be had with the community about how to work towards a common goal.
"To achieve transformational change for the entire region, that will deliver as much carbon reduction as economically and practically possible – will take every single one of us on the waka," he said.
Graham said the survey insights are valuable as HBRC prepares to consult with the community about the Long Term Plan, which sets the direction for the next 10 years.
"We need to do much more as a region to achieve the transformational change required to reduce our environmental footprint and live more sustainably. We want to lead this conversation and build the partnerships required to make this happen."
Gisborne-based new Green Party list MP Elizabeth Kerekere, who stood for election in the Ikaroa Rawhiti Maori electorate, which incorporates Hawke's Bay, said she's "proud" to know more than half the region's ratepayers would be prepared to pay more on their rates to protect the environment.
"It reflects the people of Hawke's Bay appreciate that climate change is real," she said. "I'm proud that people in my rohe are prepared to put their money where their mouth is."
She said the party had a lot of policies to support local government in its efforts to deal with climate change.
Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay president Jim Galloway said if increased rates were on a property-value basis it could be "pretty bad" for those who had already endured sharply increased rates in recent years, but farmer support would depend on what steps were being taken.
"For example, if it were water storage, they would definitely be prepared to," he said.