Whanganui District Council will not acknowledge a climate "emergency" but instead all but one councillor is willing to say a climate crisis is "impending".

The council's Strategy and Finance Committee met yesterday to debate formally recognising a climate change emergency but instead the wording had to be watered down to get a majority vote.

It was councillor Alan Taylor's motion that; in encouraging public engagement in the development of its Climate Change Strategy, the council recognises that a global climate crisis is impending.

Taylor said it was a call to action.

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"This is the greatest, most complex and most difficult problem we have ever faced," he said.

The motion was put forward by Councillor Alan Taylor. photograph Photo / Bevan Conley.
The motion was put forward by Councillor Alan Taylor. photograph Photo / Bevan Conley.

"This motion encourages our citizens to become involved in the development of our district council strategy and be involved in the implementation of that strategy's outcomes.

"It demonstrates our desire to lead, we as councillors should lead."

Some other councils around the country have declared a climate emergency.

Councillor Josh Chandulal–Mackay said the science around climate change was irrefutable.

"This is not some hypothetical we're looking at 30 or 40 years down the track, governments around the world are already responding because the impacts are already occurring."

Chandulal–Mackay said council was already making decisions based around climate change by spending $30million over the next 25 years to upgrade stormwater systems to make them more resilient.

Councillor David Bennett was the sole councillor to vote against the motion.

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"It mentions the word crisis and I don't believe we have a crisis we can do very much about as a council," he said.

Councillor David Bennett voted against the motion. Photo / Bevan Conley.
Councillor David Bennett voted against the motion. Photo / Bevan Conley.

"I am quite pessimistic about the political abilities of these sorts of matters and discussion to actually solve the issue because I think there are too many unknowns at the present time.

"If we create costs for our population and our businesses by adopting some sort of strange ideological position about the effect we will have on global warming, when New Zealand is about 0.02 per cent of all the effects in the world, we're seriously going to affect the lives of our people."

Mayor Hamish McDouall said he was disappointed it took a change in terminology for some councillors to show support for the recognition on a climate crisis.

"I have to support this motion but I think it's poorly worded, but I have to support it because it's the only way to clearly signal what is not actually an impending crisis, it's here and now."