DCC Goes Green

Council Plans To Reduce Emissions By Five Per Cent Before 2019

T he Dunedin City Council has presented its Sustainability Audit Subcommittee with a draft proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to cut emissions by five per cent of 2013–2014 levels before 2019. The plan comes as the DCC prepares to vote on an ethical investment policy that, if passed, would effectively divest the council from fossil fuels and mark a political shift towards fighting climate change.

Jinty MacTavish, DCC councillor and member of the Sustainability Audit Subcommittee, said that the DCC’s plan is still very much a draft. At this stage, the plan doesn’t list the actions that would be taken to achieve the target. Further, the target itself is based on measures that have already been approved by the council under different proposals. “I would be interested to see how ambitious we’re being and which actions would be necessary if we wanted to make more of a hole in emissions,” she said.

According to a report on emissions that accompanied the draft plan, 75 per cent of the DCC’s emissions come from its landfills. The DCC has only partial control over the reduction of those emissions, as it depends on how much waste residents bring to the landfills. MacTavish said, “It is difficult to be ambitious” as DCC operations such as landfill “are a direct reflection of the activity of our citizens.”

MacTavish said she is optimistic that Dunedin citizens’ activity — like the amount of waste they bring to the city’s landfills — might be shaped by a city-wide environmental strategy that the council is working on. A public consultation on the strategy is expected to be held in August.

Colin Campbell-Hunt, Director of the Otago Business School’s Accountancy and Finance Department, said that, given the DCC’s relative lack of control over landfill emissions, it should focus on other measures. “Obviously, a five per cent reduction is nowhere near enough,” he said. “We should focus on [reducing emissions in] areas where relatively good technology does exist, like public transport and electric cars.”

Mayor David Cull said there is a possibility that the target could rise above five per cent, but only if the plan proposes actions that haven’t yet been approved by the council. Councillors would then have to vote on any new actions before the plan could proceed. “Without Council’s conscious approval, we could not aim for something that’s higher than [five per cent],” said Cull.
This article first appeared in Issue 2, 2015.
Posted 6:26pm Sunday 1st March 2015 by Carla Green.