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QLDC launches Climate and Biodiversity Plan

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) today adopted the Climate and Biodiversity Plan 2022-2025 at the Full Council meeting.

The plan sets out how the district is going to respond to climate change and biodiversity loss over the next three years and involved extensive engagement with community and environmental groups, Kāi Tahu, not-for-profit organisations, climate experts, and partner agencies, as well as public feedback.

Katherine Durman, QLDC’s climate action programme manager said the plan was bold but achievable through collective effort.

"This plan really moves the dial on Queenstown Lakes’ response to the climate and ecological emergency. One of our goals is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the district by 44% by 2030. This won’t be easy, but we need to challenge ourselves to avoid the worst impacts of climate change," said Ms Durman.

There are 70 actions in the plan, ranging from reducing carbon emissions through more effective land-use planning and infrastructure design, to regenerating native forest, and embedding climate change into Council decision-making.

"The actions are quite varied, there are technical, nitty-gritty actions focused on procurement and building materials, as well as broader actions, such as pledging our commitment to the international effort to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius," said Ms Durman.

Council’s climate action team began developing the plan in April 2021, building on the first Climate Action Plan 2019-2022.

Following engagement and public feedback this year, the draft plan was further revised.

"We’ve talked to hundreds of people about what should be in this plan and considered views from all corners of our district. We really started from the ground up."

Ms Durman said the Queenstown Lakes Climate Reference Group (CRG) - made up of community leaders and climate experts - was instrumental in the development of the plan.

Bridget Legnavsky, Chair of the CRG, said the group evaluated best practice in Aotearoa New Zealand and globally.

"As we took part in the review, we stretched our network to gather as much information and expertise as we could. In doing so it was heartening to learn that so many people are already showing significant leadership in the climate and biodiversity space, right across the district."

"We have seen so many wonderful examples of people and communities learning, sharing, and shifting. If we can focus all our people on the changes required, anything is possible," said Ms Legnavsky.

The plan includes an emissions profile for the district and Council, predicted climate impacts, and a focus on the biodiversity crisis.

Bill Nicoll, QLDC’s Risk and Resilience Manager said an increased focus on biodiversity is an important theme of the new plan.

"This reflects the fact that we are facing both an ecological and a climate emergency, and they must be tackled together. We need to apply equal focus to protecting and restoring biodiversity, reducing carbon emissions, and adapting to a changing climate," said Mr Nicoll.

The plan outlines major challenges for the district, including climate and biodiversity leadership, urban growth, tourism, public transport, agriculture, air travel, waste, and communication.

"Our district has a very broad range of views and opinions, and while we cannot satisfy everyone, we hope this new plan reflects the priorities and values of our communities to support and accelerate the changes that are already being committed to," said Mr Nicoll.

The implementation of all 70 actions over the next three years will require strong collaborative partnerships between Council, partner organisations, and communities, said Mr Nicoll.

Mayor Jim Boult acknowledged the positive work already underway across the district by different groups.

"I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this plan, and in particular the Queenstown Lakes Climate Reference Group. They have brought an expert climate and biodiversity lens to many Council matters."

"Although we have made strong progress in delivering on the first plan, now is undeniably time for us to step up a gear. We are all in this together and Council cannot turn the tide alone. This plan belongs to our district," said Mayor Boult.

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