At an Extraordinary meeting on Thursday 16 May, Nelson City Council (NCC) declared a Climate Emergency in recognition of the mounting advice from scientists and the United Nations that there is a small window for action to avoid the most damaging effects of climate change.

By declaring a Climate Emergency, NCC joins 529 Councils in ten countries, as well as the United Kingdom and Irish parliaments, in recognising that action on climate change needs to be prioritised at all levels of society and government.

As a signatory to the Local Government Climate Change Declaration, Council last week welcomed the Government’s Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill as evidence of the high priority that central government is also attaching to the issue.

Council already has a programme of work on climate change underway, with more planned as outlined in the Annual Plan consultation document. The Climate Change Emergency will emphasise NCC’s intention to play a key role in leading the community toward a resilient and low emissions future and implementing adaptive measures that will help to manage and minimise risk.

Mayor Rachel Reese says that the Annual Plan hearings this week have highlighted the strong support from submitters for urgent action on climate change.

"Our vision is to be the Smart Little City and climate change leadership requires smart thinking and proactive decision making," says Mayor Reese.

"We're going to need a new way of thinking and working to meet the expectations of our youth and of the next generation.

"Our region already has a reputation as a leader in scientific, environmental and business innovation. Council wants to work alongside our business and community leaders to take an innovative approach to meet this challenge."

Mayor Reese says that the declaration is about prioritising collaboration across the wider community to take action on climate change.

"This issue affects everyone in Nelson, and we need to harness the power of our business and community strengths to work alongside the council, to look at how we can maintain our community well being into the future. Our community has the capability to make a difference.

“Local Government plays a critical role in leadership on issues that affect us all, and today this Council has proven the value of local democracy.

"By making the declaration, Council is committed to looking at how its plans, policies, and work programmes can support action to address the climate emergency, and ensuring that a climate emergency strategy is embedded in all future Council strategic plans."