A Climate Emergency?

So, Auckland Council have declared a “Climate Emergency”.

In the words of Councillor Penny Hulse, chair of Auckland Council’s Environment and Community committee, this declaration is “a call to action for Council to take seriously, its role in climate change.”  She went on to say that Council needs to “… make sure that all policies we set and budgets we set, are set with a climate change lens in mind.”

That is signalling a clear intention to take action.  But it’s not actually taking action is it?

If the emergency were say, seismic readings indicating an increased likelihood of a volcanic eruption, then for sure, Civil Defence would be activated and we would see real actions aimed at protecting Auckland’s population and property.

To be fair to Council, they are taking some actions around climate change.  They have drafted a plan – the Auckland Climate Action Plan (ACAP) – that will go out to public consultation in July/August.  They adopted the Auckland Plan and Unitary Plans adopted in 2018.  Then they have plans in development around: Strategic Asset Management; Measuring Asset Performance; establishing a Landslide remediation fund; profiling spatial dimension community asset risks (flooding); a Natural Hazards Risk Management Action Plan; a Natural Hazards Research Plan and plans for Coastal Compartment Management.

They have implemented a Live Lightly programme, a Sustainable Schools Plan and a Waste Management & Minimisation Plan. 

The current state of Council’s Climate Change mitigation and adaptation actions is an impressive list of plans but contains little in the way of what is needed – actual climate mitigation actions.

Some people will leap to Auckland Council’s defence and say that I am being unfair, that the thinking and planning work needs to be done before actions are implemented.  They are right, that desktop work does need to be done.  But.

Actually, action is required to mitigate the drivers of global warming.
(excerpt from Auckland Council report “Climate Change Risks in Auckland”

Can we afford to wait to see if these plans and intentions translate to an actual reduction in Auckland’s emissions?  If the emergency were say, seismic readings indicating an increased likelihood of a volcanic eruption, then for sure, Civil Defence would be activated and we would see real actions aimed at protecting.

Perhaps Council see no hope for mitigation actions having an impact worthy of going for.  That seems so in the framing of this header in their risk assessment report.

This may be why their report Climate Change Risks in Auckland focuses more on adaptation and less on mitigation.  Perhaps that too is unfair on Council, for the report is a risk assessment and as they say in the report, “Understanding the climate change risks and impacts on vulnerability for Auckland is imperative to both mitigate and adapt to climate change and to inform planning and decision making.”  

If it leads to a new climate change lens, where the word “URGENT” is writ large across it, then perhaps we will do what needs to be done – to reduce fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

Actually, taking mitigation actions is not that difficult.  As we have experienced in many of the St Andrews events and projects this past year or three:

  • Our Earth Day events have been carbon negative – we have sequestered more atmospheric CO2 than was emitted in the running of the events plus that emitted by all the people attending them.
  • Our communal food garden has
    • provided food-miles-free food
    • not required any artificial fertilisers
    • used no town-supply water even given the particularly dry summer we just had
    • reduced wastes going to landfill with kitchen waste from parish events going to the worm farm plus garden waste going to the compost
    • provide an opportunity for local people to gather as Friends of St Andrew’s Food Garden
  • Six “Grow Your Own Food” courses have taught many people how to increase their self-resilience.

These are all real climate actions that any parish can implement. For advice on how your parish can do similar things, call the Sustainability Fieldworker, John, on 021 46 36 86.

Rise for Climate and Cherish our Earth

Homo Sapiens have lived on Earth for around 10,000 generations***, yet since the industrial revolution (1760-1830), just ten to twelve generations ago, we have been the cause of much lasting damage to the earth.

We have degraded the world’s soils to the point that all it could be gone within three generations.  We watched species loss occurring at an ever-accelerating rate – from 100 times the natural rate, to between 1,000 and 10,000 times in my lifetime.  We have sat on our hands for two generations, and done nothing to mitigate the drivers of global warming that is now changing our climate.

For over forty years we have known that avoiding disastrous climate change requires breaking fossil fuel’s hold on our economy and our way of life.  And we have done so little.

Cherishing our Earth has become something we give too little attention to.

This came up at the Auckland Diocese annual synod earlier this month.   Amongst the presentation was one by journalist Rod Oram, a member of the Anglican Climate Action Network.  

His topic was our christian roles in this time of climate change.

One of Rod’s slides was a quote from American environmental lawyer and advocate Gus Speth.  

In this season of creation, we acknowledge the issues that humankind’s activities on this earth have caused. It is time we took action.  On these and other related issues.   

How relevant is the quote and how right is the sentiment?  What do you think?

350 Aoteroa’s event Rise for Climate outside the Anglican Cathedral in Parnell. L-R Amanda Larsson (350 Aotearoa), Rod Oram (Anglicans CAN), Barry Coates (350 Aotearoa) and John Allen (Anglicans CAN)


 *** assuming a 20-year cycle from birth to procreation

 

Introducing the new Sustainability Field Worker

Cherished Earth is a climate justice initiative of the Anglican Diocese of Auckland. This is about connecting faith with caring for creation and is the practical outworking of a commitment by the Anglican Bishops of Aotearoa,  New Zealand and Polynesia, to take action on climate change.

The initiative has its origins in 2007 when a group of lay  Anglican members formed the Diocesan Climate Change Action Group.  The goal is to help the Diocese’s churches and members move towards a more sustainable and carbon-neutral lifestyle.

Since 2007, the Action Group have conducted workshops around the Diocese and achieved the major goal of divesting the Church’s investments from fossil fuel industries.

In 2012, a part-time Sustainability Field Worker was appointed to implement a sustainability programme among the churches of the Diocese.  Yvonne Thompson provided a service that, through on-site building assessments and energy audits, assisted a number of parishes to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and so reduce costs as well as carbon emissions.

The appointment of a new Sustainability Field Worker (see the adjacent box) in 2016 sees this work continuing alongside some new sustainability and carbon emission mitigation initiatives.

The first of these initiatives is around sustainability in our food supply.  A programme establishing communal gardens or food forests in participating parishes will commence in early spring.  This will be complimented by waste minimisation actions (various composting methods) that any household can do.

A climate change mitigation initiative being developed is an on-line carbon footprint calculator designed to assist parishioners assess their personal contribution to global warming and compare that against national benchmarks.

Many more initiatives are in the gestation stage, along with an innovative means of funding them, that all go to give a practical expression of our faith in the context of caring for creation.

Please check out our progress and let us know your thoughts at our blog site  www.cherished-earth.org.nz or contact me direct using the contact form below.

Blessings
John Allen


The Sustainability Field Worker

In 2012 The DCCAG sought Diocesan Synod and Council for the appointment of a part-time Sustainability Field Worker, charged with implementing a sustainability programme among the churches of the Diocese.

Yvonne Thompson The Sustainability Field Worker

Yvonne Thompson is the Sustainability Field Worker for the Anglican Diocese of Auckland. Along with her faith based convictions and background in architecture, she is an accredited practitioner with the New Zealand Green Building Council.

For more details see the Contacts section of this website.

You can find stories from parishes and ministry units in which the Sustainability Field Worker has worked by going to the Sustainability Newsbites section of the website.