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.”


Cr Aaron Keown says joining the Race to Zero climate initiative will be more virtue-signalling. “Action leads to action,” he says. JOE JOHNSON/STUFF


Templeton, who chairs the council committee responsible for climate change, said the initiative had the potential for sharing of knowledge between cities.

“The actions are way more important than words on a piece of paper, but joining with others and working together is also really important, and we can’t do it alone,” she said.

“Being able to share resources, having those contacts, and reaffirming our commitment are really important.”


Cr Sara Templeton says while actions are more important than words, working with other cities is also really important. CHRIS SKELTON/STUFF


Council staff noted the practical benefit of the initiative would be accessing information and lessons from other cities involved.

If councilors decided to join the initiative, they must also select at least one action from a list of 23 to undertake before the end of the year.

Council staff recommended selecting a single action, one that called for the expansion of access to walking, cycling, and other transport methods as well as identifying areas suitable for becoming “zero emission zones” by 2025.

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.

Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, has five of these zones already and Auckland intends to make its city centre a zone too.

The Christchurch City Council has set the whole city’s carbon-zero target at 2045, which is five years ahead of both Wellington and Auckland’s city councils.

The council last commissioned an audit of the city’s emissions for the 2018/19 financial year, which found 54 per cent of Christchurch’s emissions came from transport.

In 2019 Canterbury was the second-highest emitting region in New Zealand behind Waikato, accounting for 14.2 per cent of nationwide emissions, according to Stats NZ data.



Source Stuff

October 5, 2021