23 May 2019 – to the elected members of the Kāpiti Coast District Council
Jake Roos – Chairperson
We are here today to present our petition urging council to adopt a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025 so council can play its part in addressing the climate crisis. Over 1,520 people have signed it. We have gathered these signatures at markets, at meetings, groups and clubs, from friends and family, online and at our train stations. Most people we asked signed without hesitation – we encountered maybe one person in ten who refused. Often those people would say that it was because they had given up, it was too late, that they had no hope.
Well looking at how grim our situation is I don’t have a lot of hope either, but I will tell you what I do have. Determination. Determination to do the right thing. Determination not to let my children down. Determination not to be the one of the people that for whatever lousy reason stood by and let the whole damn world slip away. And I am not the only one who is determined. You can see many of them before you today, and you’ll see more tomorrow when the school strikers return.
Going carbon neutral means cleaning up your organisation’s carbon pollution, by preventing it in the first place by conserving energy and switching to renewable energy, and by removing the pollution you do emit from the atmosphere with new forests.
Every day prior to going carbon neutral, you are making the climate crisis worse. It is well within the capability, resources and control of council to become carbon neutral as an organisation by 2025, if not sooner. It is not a radical request. The Warehouse Group is already carbon neutral for example.
Today the Mayor is bringing a motion to declare a ‘Climate Emergency’. Low Carbon Kāpiti of course supports the concept, but are very concerned that as it has no formal definition or legal stature, it would just be another piece of empty rhetoric, or is a barely-disguised jab at other bodies rather than a genuine marker of council taking a different, more urgent approach. Only if it is backed up by council doing what it can within its power to address the climate crisis will it have credibility. Council cannot stop all the carbon pollution in the district, but it can stop its own. It can become carbon neutral.
I know how councils work. Mostly on autopilot, doing ‘business as usual’. But if a proposal to do something new or different does reach decision makers you can be guaranteed the first question asked about it is ‘what does it cost?’ Council has recently bought a new diesel rubbish truck. It has also bought a new gas fired boiler for Waikanae Pool. It did this because these old technologies represent business as usual, and because their purchase cost was relatively low. But in the context of the climate crisis, these decisions make no sense at all. These pieces of equipment will last 20 years at least. In these 20 years carbon pollution must be slashed. So what is to become of these shiny new pieces of old technology? Does council expect to be able to keep polluting for free? For others to clean up your mess? If so you’re probably in for a nasty shock. Or perhaps you were thinking of throwing them on the scrapheap early? What is the cost of doing that?
In any case, if humanity continues to fail to cut emissions, it will cost us beyond all imagining. That it was caused by pointless penny-pinching back in 2019 will seem like the cruellest of jokes to those living with the consequences.
To summarise, we present our petition of over 1,520 signatures urging council to play its part in preventing the climate crisis by becoming carbon neutral as an organisation by 2025, if not sooner. We are determined. We will fight for the living Earth, the future, the Kāpiti Coast and for people everywhere. We will not go away. We will not give up.
As I am sure you are aware, humanity is facing a climate crisis. If any of you still have doubts about this, let me quote the Union of Concerned Scientists: “The evidence is overwhelming. Record breaking temperatures, humidity and seal-level rise….show that Earth is warming fast. …Our emissions from burning fossil fuels are changing our climate.”
I could make similar quotes from literally hundreds of other prestigious scientific organisations – the list is lengthy. But it is clear, the connection between our carbon emissions and global heating are just as strong as those between smoking and cancer.
The general public are beginning to understand this too. A recent insurance company poll found 79% of New Zealanders think we need to start taking action now, 78% that we need to act even if other countries don’t.
But only 10% believe we will take the appropriate action to change this. Why is it so hard to take the necessary action? There are many reasons, I will mention two.
Firstly, there is the tyranny of short term thinking. People discount the future, they value today more than tomorrow. Our leaders make decisions based on the annual budget or what will win the next election.
The second is the tyranny of the minor decision. The predicament we are in today is the result of millions and millions of small decisions all leading us in the wrong direction – let’s take the car, not the bus. Let’s fly to Europe for a holiday. Let’s buy a diesel truck, not an electric one. Let’s install a gas heater in our swimming pool, not a heat pump…. We need to turn this thinking around and start making the minor decisions that will move us in the right direction, long term.
At present Council activities emit over 3,000 tonnes of CO2e each year. Last year this was reduced by 100 tonnes. Totally inadequate – at this rate it will take 30 years to get to carbon neutral. We need to speed it up
I am a grandfather. My grandchildren, the young people in this room, might still be here at the end of the century, it is only 80 years away. But what kind of a world will it be? If present emissions continue, temperatures will be 4 to 8 degrees warmer. The tropics will be uninhabitable, there will be an estimated 2 billion climate refugees, I could go on. We are facing a future of crisis, conflict and devastation simply because we can’t be bothered making the transition to a no carbon economy. It is the older people in this room who are responsible and we should be ashamed of ourselves. So, please, let’s do our bit, support this petition. The Kapiti Council needs to be part of the solution, not the problem. If Kapiti did become the first Council in New Zealand to achieve carbon neutrality, that would be an impressive achievement, one of which I would be proud.
I am kept awake by the climate crisis some nights. I literally lie awake, shaking and terrified about what the future might look like.
- Since the age of 12, I have taken it as my mission to do something about this. Some days, it is hard as the crisis overwhelms me but I kept hopeful and propelled to act by the rangatahi involved in the school strike movement.
- I am one of the national coordinators of the movement.
- Enoch is 10 years old – story
- Lucy is 12 years old – story
- These people and thousands of young people across the country are taking action and you say this makes you hopeful.
- We don’t want your hope, we want you to act!!!
- I am standing up here to demand you do something to safeguard my generations future.
- The cost of inaction is my future. It is going to cost us our planet, it will cost us everything we love.
- I simply don’t see how it is morally right to justify emitting to save money. Why not save the future of your children, why not safe our home?
- By rejecting this target of carbon neutral by 2025, you would essentially be saying you can’t afford to save the future of me and your own kids and grandkids.
- This is the only chance we have to save the entire planet, the human race and all animal species.
- The school strikers will not be giving. We can’t afford to. We must keep pushing and we will keep going because it’s our future that’s at stake.
Kira Jaunas (age 11) also gave her speech in support of the petition. We will try and obtain the text of it and post it here.