Since 2009, about this time of year I’d normally be following the UN climate talks in someplace or other. Not this year. Glasgow’s COP26 has been postponed due to Covid-19.
So instead I’ll fill readers in on climate goings-on in our district since last year’s COP25 climate talks.
First, I must say we are fortunate to have many taking the threat of climate change seriously here.
However, last year, only a week after the close of COP25 and ignoring a student petition, our Gisborne District Council voted against declaring a climate emergency for our district. Many of the councillors, as candidates, had promised otherwise a few months before.
In January our district conducted its own Tairawhiti climate summit. Convenor Tina Ngata, Climate Change Iwi Leaders Group chairman Mike Smith and others drove home the message that climate change is with us, it is real, and a collective, global effort is needed.
Throughout the whole year Clive Bibby has persistently expressed his concerns in columns calling for council action and preparedness.
I too have expressed disappointment that last year our previous councillors expressed a clear desire to take a leadership role in climate change, and openly accepted the cost of inaction or delayed action outweighed the cost of immediate action.
But with the new council team failing to declare a climate emergency, and with a weaker commitment to merely consider climate change in policy-making, I am not really confident.
However, local democracy reporter Alice Angeloni joined your Herald staff recently.
Already she has pushed the urgency button on Tairawhiti climate change issues — forecast droughts, fires, floods, farmers facing more pests and diseases, livestock stressed by heatwaves, and a tide which keeps creeping up against the coast.
A few years back then Gisborne Youth Council president, my great nephew Isaac Hughes, visited our Ropata Street address with a young climate activist in hand. I found an ally with passion. Now a doctor, Suzy McKinney has been a formal delegate to COP talks and has also contributed climate change articles to the Whakatane Beacon.
Congratulations Isaac on making the council. I’m confident you’re right for the job.