Element - - Clean Technology -

Welling­ton’s City Coun­cil’s Cli­mate Change Ac­tion Plan, reg­u­larly up­dated since it was first cre­ated back in 2007, pre­pares for sea-level rise, storm-surges, flood­ing, slips, and ex­treme storms, but also for the dif­fi­culty in main­tain­ing wa­ter sup­ply in the sum­mer months due to re­duced rain­fall, higher tem­per­a­tures and in­creased de­mand.

The plan in­cludes a tar­get of re­duc­ing the city’s green­house gas emis­sions by 30 per cent from 2001 lev­els by 2020. Al­ready, about a third of Welling­ton’s work­force com­mutes by pub­lic trans­port, bi­cy­cles or on foot, thanks to the city’s com­pact lay­out and its rel­a­tively con­ve­nient and com­pre­hen­sive train and bus sys­tem. The city plans to boost this fur­ther by spend­ing $12.8 mil­lion over the next 10 years on im­prove­ments that will make it safer and more en­joy­able to walk or cy­cle. In 2011 it spent $11.4 mil­lion to open Man­ners Mall to buses and cre­ate a new shared space for pedes­tri­ans, cy­clists and cars in lower Cuba Street. It is also cur­rently spend­ing an ad­di­tional $9.3 mil­lion up un­til 2019 to ex­pand the city’s bus-lane net­work through the cen­tral city and on other key routes from 2012-2019. The city is also look­ing to the longer-term fu­ture of travel, in­vest­ing in the pro­mo­tion of elec­tric ve­hi­cles, es­pe­cially for com­mer­cial fleet use.

Mean­while, Welling­ton is also de­vel­op­ing its green belt ar­eas, with about 10 per cent of the city area cur­rently be­ing man­aged as or re­vert­ing back to na­tive bush, and Coun­cil staff and vol­un­teers plant­ing about 100,000 trees a year to in­crease car­bon diox­ide ab­sorp­tion.

Re­new­able en­ergy is also a big part of the plan, with the coun­cil en­cour­ag­ing projects like Merid­ian En­ergy’s 62-tur­bine West Wind farm in Makara. Com­bined, ex­ist­ing and planned wind farms around Welling­ton have the ca­pac­ity to pro­duce 222 megawatts of elec­tric­ity, suf­fi­cient to power 110,000 homes.

“Cities, rather than coun­tries, are tak­ing the lead on cli­mate change is­sues.”

In fu­ture the Coun­cil plans to sup­port small-scale power gen­er­a­tion with ‘feed in tar­iffs’ that set min­i­mum pay­ments for power be­ing sent back into the grid from pri­vate so­lar and wind sys­tems. It is also in­ves­ti­gat­ing ways to in­cor­po­rate bet­ter en­ergy ef­fi­ciency stan­dards into res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial build­ing reg­u­la­tions in the city. And it part­nered with Todd En­ergy New Zealand to help es­tab­lish a land­fill gas-to-elec­tric­ity plant that col­lects meth­ane and runs it through a 1MW gen­er­a­tor, pro­duc­ing enough power to sup­ply about 1,000 house­holds.

To adapt to what’s com­ing, the city has com­mis­sioned a large amount of re­search on the po­ten­tial im­pacts, in­clud­ing pos­si­ble sea-level-rise sce­nar­ios from 0.5 to 2.5 me­tres. The au­thor­ity is us­ing that to in­form ev­ery­thing from the de­sign of stormwa­ter drain sys­tems to en­tire coastal dune land­scapes.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown has said: “Cities, rather than coun­tries, are tak­ing the lead on cli­mate change is­sues. We need to take a cli­mate change lens to all of Coun­cil’s ac­tiv­i­ties and pro­grammes. 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 per cent and 20 per cent re­spec­tively. Reach­ing the 2020 tar­get of a 30 per cent emis­sion re­duc­tion be­low 2001 lev­els will re­quire a fur­ther step change.”

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