The community comes out in droves to hear about climate change

More than 150 people filled a public meeting on climate change in Timaru on Wednesday evening, some moved to tears by the harsh reality of the comments shared by a high school student.

The three-hour climate change conference, organized by Timaru District Council in Sopheze on the Bay, was moderated by Dr Phil Driver, a consultant responsible for developing a country-wide climate change strategy. district.

Mayor Nigel Bowen opened the event and quickly acknowledged “there will likely be differing opinions in the room.”

“But I just want to emphasize this point, no matter where you sit in this space, the climate is changing,” he said.

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“We have more frequent weather events. Timaru has experienced three civil defense emergencies and rain events that have affected both our road network and Timaru’s urban water supply over the past three years.

“We are experiencing coastal flooding along our coastline which is affecting farmland and will affect our hut communities.”

Driver read a statement from the latest IPCC report that it is “unequivocally that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.

A large crowd turned out Wednesday evening to hear more than three hours of information regarding climate change, the impact on the district and the work already underway by various members of the community.

AIMAN AMERUL MUNER / Stuff

A large crowd turned out Wednesday evening to hear more than three hours of information regarding climate change, the impact on the district and the work already underway by various members of the community.

The crowd heard from contributors to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Professors James Renwick and Tim Naish from Victoria University of Wellington, and Professor Bronwyn Hayward from the University of Canterbury via Zoom , which summarized the latest knowledge on climate science, impacts and predictions, the convergence of land subsidence and sea level rise, and the urgency for collective action.

Peter Cochrane, environmental scientist from Tonkin and Taylor, project manager of Canterbury’s Climate Change Risk Assessment, and psychotherapist James Driver also addressed the group, focusing respectively on the localized impacts of climate change and on tackling climate change anxiety.

Introducing the handful of local speakers to address the crowd, he said he could easily have had “dozens of speakers talking about what is happening in our district”, but he hoped that the selection of speakers would convey to the audience how much work is already underway. .

“Climate action is becoming the new normal because so many people are doing it big or small.”

Kaia George, Managing Director of Temuka Transport, Carolyn Cooper, Managing Director of Regional Operations at Fulton Hogan, Brett King, President of the South Canterbury Catchment Collective Society, Mark Adams, Teacher at Mountainview High School Justine Carson-Iles and Nigel Davenport of Venture Timaru have all spoken.

Professor James Renwick, of Victoria University, speaks via Zoom at the well-attended climate change meeting on Wednesday evening.

AIMAN AMERUL MUNER / Stuff

Professor James Renwick, of Victoria University, speaks via Zoom at the well-attended climate change meeting on Wednesday evening.

All gave examples of localized action already underway, corporate pledges, plans for future adaptation and hopes for South Canterbury to capitalize on opportunities for climate action pioneers.

George opened the short speeches with a youthful perspective and left drivers and audience members visibly emotional.

Attendee Kerry McArthur of Hilton said she has always had an interest in environmental issues and

felt that the event had added to his understanding.

MacArthur said as a mother of three, she felt it was important to “be part of the solution”.

“I really want them to have a better world to grow up in,” she said.

Timaru District Council Climate Change Advisor Rhys Taylor is working on developing a climate change strategy for the district.

AIMAN AMERUL MUNER / Stuff

Timaru District Council Climate Change Advisor Rhys Taylor is working on developing a climate change strategy for the district.

While climate change was one of the four main areas identified by the community through public consultation prior to the last long-range plan process, the climate change work program met with backlash from some councilors when it was was proposed for the first time.

But the ten-year, $360,000-a-year program was finally approved and includes both Driver’s role and new climate change adviser Rhys Taylor.

There are legislative requirements for local government to consider the effects of climate change, integrating them into plans, projects, frameworks and decision-making, and the impending reform of the Resource Management Act, and the national adaptation plan will impose new obligations.

One of Driver’s jobs is to lead the development of a district-wide climate change strategy, which will use interviews with more than 50 stakeholders, Wednesday’s meeting and another to come, as well as a series of workshops that will take place from September 2022 to March 2023.

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