Climate change agreement may lead to ‘zero emission zones’ in Christchurch
Christchurch leaders are considering joining a United Nations-linked climate change initiative that could lead to parts of the city becoming “zero emission zones”, meaning no petrol-guzzling cars, by 2025.
Christchurch City Council staff have recommended signing up to the Race to Zero climate initiative, following an invitation from Auckland mayor Phil Goff. Auckland and Wellington are both part of the initiative, which encompasses more than 730 cities worldwide.
The initiative encourages cities to pledge to reduce carbon emissions, come up with interim and long-term targets, take action on those targets, and produce annual reports showing their progress.
Councillor Sara Templeton backed the initiative, saying cities needed to work together while Cr Aaron Keown said it was just more virtue signalling.
Council staff say joining the initiative would reinforce the council’s commitment to “strong climate action” – but also admit that joining would be a “largely a symbolic move” and it would not require any significant additional council resources.
Keown said the initiative “was another group-think on how we’re going to change the planet without changing the planet”.
“Action leads to action,” he said. “You saying to me ‘I’m going to be an All Black’ – but you aren’t even playing rugby at the moment – isn’t going to get you to be an All Black.”
Staff said this action was “a direction the council already supports”, but noted identifying the zero emission zones would be a new piece of work. Identifying potential zones did not necessarily mean they would be implemented.
The council’s head of strategic policy, Emma Davis, said the zones would be areas promoting zero emission transport, such as walking, cycling, public transport or electric vehicles.
Residents and businesses in the zone would benefit from cleaner, healthier air and quieter streets, she said.
“The size and location of any potential future zero emission zones have not yet been identified”. Davis said the staff recommendation presently was only to explore the merits of these zones.