The Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) recently declared a climate emergency and released a Draft Climate Action Plan. This plan states in the introduction, “Now is the time to stop talking about climate change and to start taking climate action.” QLDC is to be commended for these sentiments and this Draft Action Plan.
The Plan contains a wealth of information, including, “What could climate change mean for our district? What is QLDC already doing?” It contains an overview of the Council’s adaptation and mitigation activities, including current projects and a selection of future projects from things like the QLDC 10-Year Plan. Outcomes are listed within ‘The Four Wellbeings Framework’—Social, Cultural, Environmental, Economic—and a matrix shows priority actions for 2019 to 2021 and 2021 to 2022.
The main problem with the Plan is the ‘who, what, where and when’ are not given much attention despite the plan specifically referring to the next three years and given QLDC has declared a climate emergency.
Outcomes like ‘Queenstown Lakes is a place that is ready and prepared for every emergency’ and ‘everyone in our community is equally safe from the harmful impacts of climate change,’ and ‘we will achieve zero carbon and zero waste targets… [and] lead the world in environmentally sustainable, low carbon visitor experiences’ are laudable, but how are these and the many other ‘wellbeings’ to be achieved?
Under the section on what QLDC is already doing, for ‘Local Adaptation,’ there is apparently ‘forward planning’ and ‘bold decision-making’ but little detail of what these are; regarding ‘Local Mitigation,’ QLDC is supposedly leading by example, but the examples given are underwhelming (eg. “...[staff] minimising waste and being more energy efficient”) given the gravity of the climate emergency. The overview of the QLDC’s adaptation and mitigation activities is a mixed bag at best, from the specific (eg. Queenstown Events Centre heating review) to the surely aspirational (eg. Exploring use of recycled materials for road construction). Again, the ‘who, what, where and when’ are not given much attention.
With fast growing numbers of overseas visitors and the climate impacts of their travel as well as the infrastructure needed to support them, the ‘transition to a zero-carbon future’ is going to be missed by a proverbial country mile if we follow the Draft Plan as presently worded.
How do we get this Plan in order so that it can achieve its stated objective?
What QLDC has produced is not so much a draft action plan as half an action plan. What is needed is the most important part of any action plan, the part that spells out the objectives, the policies that will be deployed to achieve them, the means by which they will be achieved, the timeframe and funds to do it and how we will measure our progress towards a zero-carbon future.