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Climate Change

Learn more about how our region is placed to face a changing climate.

What we know about Climate Change in our region

Climate change describes the effect on our planet of human-induced atmospheric changes. These are experienced by life on earth as wide variations in temperature resulting in more intense and frequent rainfall, droughts, storms, fires and floods. Scientists have observed that the Earth’s surface is warming, and many of the warmest years recorded have happened in the past 20 years. 

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council declared a climate emergency for the region on 26 June 2019. The declaration recognised the climate crisis as an urgent and pervasive threat to human and ecological wellbeing. A small window of time remains to act to avoid the most damaging effects of a rapidly changing climate for the longer term. Hawke’s Bay’s climate crisis declaration was one of many declarations from councils across the country, with the Government declaring a climate emergency on 2 December 2020.  

Central Government typically leads national policy and regulatory instruments to reduce and offset (mitigate) greenhouse gases, ie. the emissions trading scheme, emissions reduction plan, fuel quality regulations and electric vehicle subsidies. Meanwhile, local government typically leads local community initiatives to reduce and offset emissions, ie. tree planting and urban passenger transport services, as well as initiatives focused on adaptation – to promote community resilience in response to a changing climate. 

 The Resource Management Act currently constrains what councils can do to consider the effects of activities on climate change, such as carbon emissions. The RMA enables councils to play an active role in adapting to the effects of climate change, such as the planning and regulating activities impacted by natural hazards that are also exacerbated by climate change.  

 The council set a goal for HBRC to be carbon neutral by 2025 and will play a leadership role in the region’s goal of net zero greenhouse gases by 2050. The council also supported creating a Climate Action Ambassador role to coordinate HBRC work and create collective momentum for regional carbon neutrality by 2050. Climate change is therefore a focus in all HBRC planning and decisions. 

Kotahi Climate Change 1
Kotahi Climate Change 2

What the science is telling us

The range of likely climate change impacts for Hawke’s Bay includes:  

  • Annual average temperatures projected to rise between 0.5°C and 1°C by 2040, and between 1.5°C and 3°C by 2090; on top of the 1°C increase over the last century 
  • Coastal areas may have five fewer frosty days by 2040 – this could increase to 50 fewer frosty days for inland areas by 2090 
  • Heat waves, defined as three or more days above 25°C, will become increasingly common, increasing to 10-20 days by 2040, and 20-60 days by 2090 
  • Annual rainfall is forecast to drop up to 5% by 2040, and up to 15% in parts of Hawke’s Bay by 2090 
  • Storms are likely to become more intense  
  • Expected sea level rise of up to 40 centimetres in 40 years, worsening coastal erosion and inundation (under the extreme worst-case scenario). 

Source NIWA, November 2020, Climate Change projections and impacts for Tairawhiti and Hawke’s Bay 

Kotahi & Climate Change

As HBRC develops the new Kotahi Plan, there is an opportunity to strengthen commitment to managing the effects of climate change, by reducing emissions and adaptation. The Kotahi Plan might for example promote clean renewable energy, infrastructure to support active transport, protect vulnerable communities, encourage appropriate land-use management, environmental enhancement and restoration. 

Consideration through the Kotahi process will need to be given to how to support a place for renewable energy production, and a whether a move away from traditional forestry to carbon farming is appropriate and how this would be managed. Consideration should also be given to how HBRC’s Regional Policy Statement can instruct local councils in their own plans.  

Your Feedback

The following infographic displays what the community has told us about this catchment in our first round of engagement.  For more information read the full Kotahi Community Engagement Report here.

1022 Climatechangeesults V01


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