Let’s Get Welly Informed – choose climate action this election

From Ōtaki to Seatoun, and Mākara to Kaitoke, voters can choose local governments that care about the issue these elections.

Following the enormous turnout of 40,000 people at the Wellington CBD climate strike yesterday, and the crowds of people at similar protests in Kāpiti and the Hutt Valley, the appetite for finding out where candidates stand on climate action has never been stronger.

For the first time, candidates for six councils in the region have been rated by two climate change groups. The Common Climate Network has published online scorecards for candidates in standing for election in Hutt City, Upper Hutt, Porirua and on the Kāpiti Coast at www.commonclimate.nz and  Generation Zero has published scorecards ranking candidates for Wellington City and Greater Wellington Regional Council at www.localelections.nz.   

The questionnaire asked detailed questions on what actions candidates will take on climate change, particularly their support for initiatives on public transport, energy efficiency, waste reduction, and urban development.

In the areas surveyed by the Common Climate Network, the vast majority of respondents agreed with the statements “I believe councils have an obligation to take a greater leadership position on reducing emissions”, and “I believe councils have an obligation to reduce their emissions”. Only 26 people agreed that “I think the risk of climate change has been exaggerated and should not be treated as an emergency.”

64 candidates replied to the questionnaire out of 106 standing, giving a response rate of 60%. Of the candidates who answered, there was a roughly even split on the question of “How important is the Wellington Airport runway extension?”, with 30% rating it not at all important, 34% somewhat important and 36% very important.

The Common Climate Network worked with Low Carbon Kāpiti to tailor the questions for their local issues.

Jake Roos, founder of Low Carbon Kāpiti, said “We recognize that individual actions are important, but what’s probably a lot more important is what the decision makers do, the laws of the land and how public money is spent. That will have a greater impact on climate change and emissions. Hence, it’s crucial at elections that the issues are highlighted and voters are aware of where different candidates stand.”

The Common Climate Network partnered with Millions of Mothers and the All Saints Parish Green Taskforce in Palmerston North to extend the reach of the questionnaire to other councils throughout the country.

Alicia Hall, founder and spokesperson for Millions of Mothers, said “Overall it’s great to see candidates thinking about climate and many are including this essential subject in their campaigns. However, we’re disappointed that many candidates including experienced councillors still don’t have the depth of understanding really needed on climate issues.”

Robert Gibb, one of the founders and co-leaders of the Green Taskforce at All Saints’ Parish in Palmerston North, said “Green Taskforce members are passionate about the environmental and climate crises that we face, and we saw the CCN questionnaire as an ideal way of letting people know where candidates stand on the wide set of issues that will have to be addressed with considerable urgency for us to pull back from the brink.”

Read more about the questionnaire


Author: Catherine Jeffcoat

Wellington-based communications manager.

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