Mayors in Otago and Southland have generally appeared far from united over the merits of a new centralised agency in New Zealand to help local authorities prepare for the impacts of climate change.
This was shown in a report this week in the Otago Daily Times following a call for a local government risk agency, funded by central government from Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) president Dave Cull, who is Mayor of Dunedin.
The ODT reported that the clean-up cost from last year's July storm in coastal Otago and Canterbury had more than doubled, to $55 million. Cull said the storm was the kind of event predicted to become more common with climate change and many councils lack the resources to prepare for that eventuality.
However, other southern mayors contacted by the ODT were more circumspect. Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said he “'would be open-minded to a discussion,” but the concept raised issues of equality with other districts.
Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan was also “open to the discussion,” but not necessarily the outcome suggested by LGNZ. His council was in a strong financial position and capable of covering the cost of adapting to climate issues.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher was against the concept, saying it was up to each council to assess risks and guard local assets.
“'Our risks as coastal districts are very different to Central Otago - there's a lot of decisions in there that should be up to each district,” he reportedly said.
“We've got people elected to represent the people in those areas, and this is about local decision-making and not losing that to some central body.”
The ODT said Climate Change Minister James Shaw said an LGNZ briefing was expected shortly, followed by further discussions, including on who should pay for the agency.
Meanwhile, the NZ Herald reported that Pastoral Farming Climate Research Inc chairman Robin Grieve was critical of moves by Minister Shaw.
“Mr Shaw is forgetting he is a government minister and not some crusader,” Grieve reportedly said.
Grieve, a former dairy farmer now growing avocados, stood as an Act candidate for the Whangarei electorate in two general elections and a by-election.
The Herald reported that Grieve and others in the Mangakahia area formed PFCR in 2009 to represent farmers' interests by highlighting discrepancies in reports about the role livestock play in global warming.
Grieve was critical of comments by Shaw and claimed he was “also scaremongering and irresponsible.”
“Prime Minister Jacinda Adern must realise that a government cannot just make stuff up and scaremonger like this. There must be some regard for the truth by her and her ministers, and on this occasion there is none.”
Grieve said that a Ministry for the Environment report showed data collected all over NZ between 1960-2016 showed a significant reduction in extreme wind events and a small decrease in extreme flooding events over that period.
“The statistics and data do not back up the desperate claims that we are experiencing more extreme weather events. We are experiencing less in fact despite one degree of warming.
“Claims also that the one degree of warming has been caused by increasing greenhouse gas emissions are also inaccurate with the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) itself attributing only 0.2 degrees of that increase to greenhouse gas emissions.
“The Government is off to a poor start if it has to exploit people and scaremonger on an issue that deserves some integrity.”
James Shaw told the Herald that the science around climate change is settled, and has been for some time.
This Wednesday edition of The Australian newspaper featured a column by former chairman of the ABC and noted science commentator Maurice Newman. It was headlined: “The inconvenient trust, as always is that catastrophists are wrong.”
Newman said blind ideology dressed up as scientific fact is a threat to our existence, and that radical-left eco-catastrophists have a tendency to extract worst-case scenarios from every weather event.
He pointed to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology claiming recently that Penrith in Sydney in a recent heat wave was the warmest spot in the world by reporting its highest ever temperature. The problem was that Penrith only began recording temperatures in 1995 and nearby Richmond was much hotter in 1939.
Around the time this claim was being made a report by Matt Ridley in The Times of London said, based on science research the Earth was slowly slipping into a proper ice age. This supported research by Henrik Svensmark and Australia’s David Evans and others, who correlated low solar activity (fewer sunspots) and increased cloud cover (as modulated by cosmic rays) with a cooling climate.
Sources: odt.co.nz; nzherald.co.nz; theaustralian.com.au and nzresources.com