Christchurch’s traumatic recent history has prepared it more than most for the rigours of risk assessment and disaster planning. The Council is expecting climate change to deliver a 50–80 centimetre rise in sea level, a temperature increase of two degrees and changes in rainfall and extreme weather events. The authority believes the positive side of this could be milder winters and a longer growing season. However, this comes with more intense rain that could increase landslides, as well as ironically, an increased likelihood of droughts during drier periods. The city is also threatened by new pests and diseases as well as the potential for economic disruption, particularly from rising fossil fuel prices and significant numbers of displaced people from low-lying, drought-prone areas moving into the city.
To try and head that off the city has committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth by 2020 measured against 2008 levels, and halving them by 2050. This would include shifting more freight onto ships and rail, encouraging public transport, walking and cycling wherever possible and rolling out more public transport of the kind it is currently trialling with a rates-funded hybrid-electric bus. The city intends to cut landfilled waste by two thirds, and is currently investigating the potential of creating algal-based biofuels at its wastewater treatment plant. Beginning in 2015 the council plans to reduce barriers and increase the affordability and uptake of solar and heat pump hot water heating systems by fasttracking consents, providing low interest long-term loans and accrediting the systems and installers. There’s even $30,000 set aside to encourage people to grow more of their own veggies on private land and suitable public spaces.
There’s even $30,000 set aside to encourage people to grow more of their own veggies...
Rebuilding for a climate change future
A unique part of the picture in Christchurch is Legacy, a partnership created by the council and the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC), with support from Property Council of New Zealand and the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce, and several local development companies. It has attracted the likes of Westpac, Jasmax, Christchurch International Airport and the University of Canterbury among others: organisations that have pledged to develop and occupy healthy, efficient, and sustainable buildings that create a lasting legacy for the region, and to inspire more businesses to do likewise.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says: “There is an unprecedented opportunity in the rebuild of our city to make the most of latest knowledge and technologies to create a Christchurch fit for the future, one that we can all be proud of.”