In a cloud of waffle the WCC put out a press release last week titled “Wellington’s council extends its ‘smart climate action plan,’ adds new initiatives.”
This is a great example of the kind of doublespeak press release we’ve come to know and love from the mayor and her Green coterie of councillors. It looks interesting, it looks like something is happening, but when you dig down into what it actually says, its either off the mark or just waffling on about how they are planning to plan.
“The Wellington City Council has today strengthened its response to climate change through the development of a more comprehensive and integrated Climate Change Action Plan.
At today’s Strategy and Policy Committee, council members unanimously agreed to extend successful measures of Wellington’s award-winning 2010 Action Plan for another two years and integrate new initiatives into the programme.”
Wait, 2010? It hasn’t been updated since then? But but but the mayor has been the portfolio owner of Climate Change all this time! What’s she been doing? It’s ok though, given that she hasn’t done anything about it for nearly her entire term, there must be something good coming. Right?
“Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the report was necessary. “Cities rather than countries are taking the lead on climate change issues,” she said. “We need to take a climate change lens to all of Council’s activities and programmes.
“Our leadership will act as a catalyst for wider community and business action. Council can provide economies of scale and work closely with the business sector in particular, bringing costs down for items such as photo-voltaics and green building supplies and also encouraging better business cases for organisations to incorporate climate-friendly measures.”
OK. I’ll bite. What are you actually going to do. It looks like you are going to source some cheap solar power (that makes sense in Wellington. Said nobody. Ever.) and green timber, which, by the way, was how we got the leaky building crisis. Oh yes, back in the day, the Green Party managed to get mostly rid of untreated timber. Of course, untreated timber tends to rot…
Anyway, to translate that statement, it looks like we might get some cheap solar panels, which is great, because the cost of solarising your house or business is gigantic.
“Mayor Wade-Brown said that the comprehensive approach was timely. “The past week marked a deeply concerning climate milestone: Average daily atmospheric CO2 concentrations have exceeded 400 ppm for the first time in at least three million years. Global and local consequences include droughts, storms and real pressure on human livelihoods.
Ah. That’s important. Seriously. I want you to remember droughts and storms.
“The Council has taken steps to reduce emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change. They include practical steps that appeal to households like increased funding for energy savings saw almost a thousand energy assessments and four hundred retrofits since August 2011. Our own social housing insulation has made a big difference too.”
This is blatant waffle. Can anyone translate this? I see no steps, let alone practical ones that our Mayor has made. I’m failing to see how energy assessments can slow down Climate Change, and social housing insulation? Four hundred houses? OK, she can have that. She’s seen four hundred houses with insulation added.
“Based on the best available information, as of 2010 the city’s emissions had roughly stabilised at 2001 levels. This shows we are on the path to a lower-carbon economy since both GDP and population have grown, by 29 percent and 20 percent respectively.
“Reaching the 2020 target of a 30 percent emission reduction below 2001 levels will require a further step change.”
Rubbish. I don’t believe we’ve stabilised it at all. You can’t tell me that we just “deeply concerning climate milestone” and we’ve been doing so brilliantly that we’ve managed not to increase our emissions in twelve years. It’s nice to see the stats thrown in there for GDP and population, over the same twelve years, it would be political suicide to put that in for the mayor’s current term.
Idling traffic is putting somewhere between 17,500 and 35,000 tonnes of C02 into the atmosphere each year as the mayor does nothing to get people moving around the city other than pointing at the bicycle.
“Additions to the 2013 Action Plan include the Smart Energy Capital initiative proposed in the city’s draft Annual Plan 2013/14, a refresh of the Wellington Transport Strategy, participation in the UN-Habitat City Resilience Profiling Programme and UNISDR Making Cities Resilient Campaign, and research partnerships and community engagement being undertaken through the Council’s Our Living City work programme.”
All hogwash and double-speak. What does this actually translate into? Planting a few trees on Taranaki Street according to the draft plan.
“We will work with our communities to find adaptive solutions to coastal erosion rather than impose limits in a top-down fashion,” said the Mayor.
What does that mean exactly? Are they actually going to do something about rising sea levels or not?
“Already the draft Smart Energy Capital initiative has found potential business partnerships to reduce emissions at business, school and households. Wellington must combine energy innovation and emission reductions with economic development through partnerships.
“The Council would provide matching funding of $250,000 per year for two years for priority energy initiatives,” said Mayor Wade-Brown
That’s it. $250,000 a year. The climate is going to hell in a handbasket and the mayor will match up to $250,000.
Updated greenhouse gas inventories and projections and a new stakeholder engagement process will help identify options for meeting the city’s climate change goals that also deliver other social, economic and environmental benefits.
“We have a bold vision for Wellington’s ongoing development as New Zealand’s Smart Capital, and smart climate action is integral to this,” said the Mayor.
Where is the bold vision? You’ve insulated four hundred houses (or “retrofitted them”), made claims that have no basis, and will match up to $250,000 in … something.
Let’s look at what could be bold, what could be a vision:
- Recognising that the climate has actually changed, will change more, and getting on with sorting out the important things.
- Recognising that by not investing in roads, public transport, and other things to get people moving, it is having more of a negative impact on the climate than if you did. That by investing in good roads, traffic management, growing a public transport system that people actually want to use and is affordable, and investing in other options like cycleways (instead of just jabbering on about what a great idea they are), you’ll reduce the overall climate burden.
- Recognising that the current storm water and sewage system need help now. Because every time it rains here now we poison our seafood sources and flood dozens of buildings and houses. Because the excuse that “its a one in twenty year event” is a bullshit line when this happens half a dozen times in spring and autumn. Coming up with a plan to get that system ready for the increased rain burden would seem to be a good idea.
- Recognising that the city’s drinking water supply is under threat from continued droughts, which will increase in frequency, and doing something about it. Rather than wringing your hands and saying its a one in twenty year event.
- Realising that the rising sea-levels are going to cause real problems for vast sections of the city including the CBD up to Newtown and most of Eastern Suburbs and oh, doing something about it. Like planning for the day where you’re going to need to put the pumps back into Miramar to keep the water out.
- Understanding that even if we all stop farting tomorrow, that climate change will be haunting us for thousands of years to come and starting to adapt.
Jesus wept. Four hundred houses insulated and up to $250,000 matched with god only knows what criteria. There’s “finger in the dike” and then there’s “head up your arse.”
It amazes me that this mayor purports to be Green and can be so incredibly naive. I don’t consider myself an environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination and I can see that this blind stupidity and the act of doing nothing leaves us in a dangerous position.
Clearly it will take sewage flowing backwards out of people’s toilets, high tides lapping at the doors of the Miramar shops, and drinking water being delivered by trucks in summer before anyone does anything.