Climate change in the Far North
The planet is experiencing a warming trend that is happening faster than has been seen in recent history. Eighteen of the 19 warmest years since 1951 have all occurred since 2001 (NASA). A range of effects of this warming, or climate change, have been predicted for Northland by NIWA Taihoro Nukurangi (Climate, Freshwater and Ocean Science). These include sea level rise, warmer days, more drought and extreme weather events.
The impacts may include severe storms, coastal erosion and inundation, and water shortages. There could be increased sedimentation, contamination of soil and salination (increased salt content) of water sources. An increased risk to slips and floods may bring damage to the transport network. Agriculture and horticulture will be impacted, and there is the threat of new agricultural pests.
The Far North District Council Climate Change Roadmap April 2020 outlines a broad approach to climate change, including goals and associated guiding principles. The roadmap also presents proposed action plans in four focus areas involving mitigation and adaptation. These are:
- Walking the talk - Council reduces its carbon emissions.
- Reducing our carbon emissions together - Supporting our communities to achieve zero carbon by 2050.
- Prudent future proofing - Managing the Council’s services, resources, and assets to future-proof them from the risks of climate change.
- Developing resilience - Help our communities prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The Council has recognised climate change as one of our top organisational risks. It poses significant risks to the community through environmental impacts (climatic, geographic, public health, social, economic, and financial); and significant risk through transition challenges for the Council (compliance, governance, legal, financial and policy).
The Council developed an internal Climate Change Risk Reference Group, which held an inaugural meeting in August 2021. The purpose of the group is to support the Council’s climate change response.
The Assurance, Risk and Finance Committee endorsed a recommendation from the group to categorise the climate change risk into four themes. The objective is to articulate specific climate change risks to drive clear treatments. Read the full risk report here(PDF, 928KB).
Council’s statutory obligations
- The Council must comply with the Resource Management Act, the Local Government Act, the Civil Defence Act and the Zero Carbon Amendment Act 2019.
- Our policies must be consistent with Northland Regional Council’s Policy Statements relating to hazards and biodiversity, water quantity and quality.
Council’s response to date
- The Council has acknowledged that climate change is the number one risk it faces.
- We signed the Local Government Leaders Declaration in 2017 with a commitment to “develop and implement ambitious action plans” for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
- We are an active in Climate Adaptation Te Tai Tokerau (CATT), which is developing the Regional Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.
- We have an internal Climate Change Risk Reference group.
- We commissioned a carbon footprint assessment for the Council.
- We are developing a Climate Assessment Policy.