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Summit aims to shape region’s climate future

Climate change experts will gather later this month in Gisborne to consider the climate future for Tairawhiti.

The Tairawhiti Climate Summit also aims to inform regional plans for lowering emissions and mitigating climate change impacts.

Local, national and international experts will converge for a day of panel discussions and keynote presentations tailored to the projected climate futures of the Gisborne region, based on climate modelling provided by the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa).

Organiser Tina Ngata said she and a number of community members were surprised and concerned by the projections, which predict some areas in the region moving from one to five hot days a year (over 25 degrees) up to 80 a year by 2090.

“I knew there would be changes but I didn't realise they would be that severe,” she said.

“This has huge implications for our ecosystems, for our human health, and for our economy. The climate science tells us that if we leave important decisions and policies for even one more decade, it will be too late to avoid the worst of those impacts.

“This has to be the decade of climate action, and that starts with facing up to the science.

“A lot of what we hear on the news about climate change relates to the polar caps, or the Amazon, or at the moment, Australia. But this summit will help us to make sense of what climate change will mean for our own fire risk, for our seafood stocks and for our rivers.”

The summit is being supported by Gisborne District Council and Trust Tairawhiti.

Trust Tairawhiti chief executive Gavin Murphy said the trust was “very supportive of this kaupapa”.

“We need to ensure that the decisions we make in response to climate change have a strong focus on community resilience and wellbeing.

“GDC and Trust Tairawhiti are working on a regional emissions profile and reduction plan. The summit will inform this action plan.”

GDC chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said climate change would affect the economic, environmental and social wellbeing of our communities.

“We can limit effects by moving toward a zero emissions economy, and our community have told us their aspiration for Tairawhiti by 2050 is to be carbon neutral and resilient to climate changes. We need to work together now to develop mitigation actions, access support and funding,” she said.

The summit is on January 22, at Te Tini o Porou conference centre at 75 Huxley Road. It runs from 9am to 6pm.

It will feature panels on freshwater, wetland and coastal marine impacts, economic futures, biodiversity and biosecurity.

Keynote speakers include newly appointed Climate Commissioner James Renwick, climate change and human health expert Rhys Jones, senior researcher at the Institute for Governance and Policy studies at Victoria University, Dr Mike Joy; climate change advisers to the Iwi Leaders Group Mike Smith and Hinekaa Mako; Sara Mikiloft Fletcher of CarbonWatchNZ, and Peter Fraser, who is a senior associate at Victoria University's institute for Governance and Policy Studies.

Registrations are open and accessible through the Facebook event page Tairawhiti Climate Summit.

EXPERT: Climate Commissioner James Renwick will be among a number of keynote speakers at the Tairawhiti Climate Summit later this month. He will be presenting via zoom. File picture