The people in charge of the Bay of Plenty's response to climate change have chosen to "reset" their action plan, more than a year after declaring a climate change emergency.
On June 25, 2019, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council declared the emergency, a decision that meant the council would prioritise projects and policies that would help reduce carbon emissions. It came after climate change protesters petitioned New Zealand councils.
In a regional council Strategy and Policy Committee meeting last week, councillors agreed to change tack. Environmental strategy manager Toi Moana Stephen Lamb said the first year had been "focused on getting our own house in order, building a better picture of our organisational carbon footprint and how we account for climate change in our decision making, setting us up well for next steps".
The council wanted the next iteration of the action plan to be "more strategically focused to inform overall direction across the many things that council does, with a clear vision and direction for our role and position on climate change", Lamb said.
"Because climate change is front and centre as a strategic priority for the coming Long-term Plan, it was good timing to revisit our action plan and check with our communities on our direction."
The action plan will be developed alongside the Long-term Plan process, which started last week with a workshop to help set the overall direction on climate change. It will continue through a public consultation process early next year.
In a report presented to the meeting, author Jane Palmer said the first year of the council's Climate Change Action Plan provided a good foundation for the council. Climate change provisions of the Resource Management Amendment Act are expected to come into effect on December 31 next year. They will require councils to have regard to emissions reduction plans and national adaptation plans when making and amending regional policy statements, regional plans and district plans. This will also allow councils to consider discharges to air of greenhouse gas emissions through the consenting process.
A draft second version of the council's action plan is expected to be presented in December for community consultation early next year.