Canterbury council calls for public transport funding to meet climate goals

Canterburys regional council is calling for the Government to throw more funding into public transport improvements at the expense of carbon-hungry transport modes to help meet the Climate Change Commissions emission-slashing targets.
Environment Canterbury (ECan) councillors voted on Thursday on their official submission on the commissions recommendations to the Government.

It also called for the commissions agricultural and forestry targets to take into account what regional councils were trying to achieve, and make sure the Government included that in any legislation.

The commissions draft carbon budgets and advice were released on February 1, and proposed sweeping reforms to how Kiwis got to work, farmed, and heated their homes.


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It called for 40 per cent of the nations private vehicle fleet to be fully electric and for petrol car imports to end by 2035.

The Government already announced councils would no longer be allowed to buy fossil-fuel buses from 2025, but the commission also wanted more trips on foot, and cycling and public transport use to double.

In agriculture, the commission wanted New Zealands overall herd size cut by 15 per cent over the next 15 years, and pushed for more tree-planting projects, specifically native ones.

George Heard/Stuff
ECans submission says Canterbury faces a unique profile of issues.

ECans submission supported the Climate Change Commissions recommendations as a whole, but suggested it needed to take into account the unique issues Canterbury faced.

Canterbury had the second highest emissions of any region in the country, behind Auckland, making up 15 per cent of New Zealands total emissions.

Across the region, agriculture created about 65 per cent of that, followed by households at 10 per cent, manufacturing at 9, transport, power and waste service at 4 each, and construction, forestry and mining at 2 per cent each.

However, Greater Christchurch had its own emissions profile, with transport creating the lions share of emissions at 54 per cent, households and buildings at 19 per cent, and agriculture at 15.3.

Transport​


Shifting away from private cars to more sustainable ways to travel is one of our regions most significant challenges, ECans submission said.

The council's draft transport plan already aimed to cut transport-related emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, and about 8 per cent of Cantabrians already walked or biked to work in the regions centres.

A one size fits all New Zealand approach may miss key opportunities for Canterbury ... with Canterbury having some of the highest rates of private car use in New Zealand, [ECan] views this sector as a major potential avenue for emissions reductions.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff
Canterburys councils have already invested heavily in a shift to active and public transport.

The report said one of the biggest barriers to meeting the commissions aspirations for the transport sector would be funding gaps.

Before [improvements to the system] can begin, a robust discussion needs to be held on how improvements to public transport are funded.

Currently, central government and local government fund about three-quarters of the public transport offerings in Canterbury, with fares from users making up the rest.

ECan called for the Government to ensure more money for public transport was found and secured.

If this means delaying funding that supports inefficient and carbon-hungry transport modes and directing it to public and active transport, then this needs to happen.

Ross Giblin/Stuff
ECan wants the Government to consider freshwater quality and emissions side by side when it comes to agriculture.

Agriculture​


ECan agreed requiring farms to stop or reduce their nutrient run-off could encourage better practices, but said its job was more to manage the impacts on water quality.

The submission said any policy needed to focus on both.

It also called for more research to better understand the links between freshwater regulations and emissions reduction policy, including whether water quality and emissions reductions could actually be achieved through the on-farm management the commission recommended.

Forestry​


The council warned against incentivising exotic forestry projects that were not in the long-term interests of New Zealand, and agreed native planting projects should be the priority.

However, while parts of Canterbury like Kaikura or Banks Peninsula were ideal for establishing native forests, places like the Canterbury plains would need exotic plantations to help meet emissions targets.

Consideration must be given to the principle right tree, right place, right purpose.

ECan said it wanted planting incentives to complement its own freshwater and biodiversity targets, and there needed to be more funding available to help councils afford to plant pricey natives.

Amendments​


Several amendments were also voted into ECans submission at its Thursday meeting.

Councillor Lan Pham said there were concerns New Zealand would still overshoot the Paris Agreements 1.5 degree Celsius target, even with the commissions recommendations.

Were urging the commission to take into account the latest climate research that says we may already be heading for the worst case scenario, and take a precautionary approach when setting carbon budgets.

She said they also wanted to encourage Government to invest in public awareness and behaviour changes on a significant scale.

It could be social media campaigns, but weve got to let out people, families and communities know what they can do to make a meaningful difference.

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