Ashburton councillors questioning climate change 'embarrassing', colleague says

6:18 pm on 7 March 2022

Ashburton councillors questioning the authenticity of climate change have been labelled "embarrassing" by one of their own.

Ashburton District Council offices.

Ashburton District Council offices. Photo: Ashburton District Council

The simple task of the Ashburton District Council receiving the Canterbury climate change risk assessment technical report and the summary report threatened to become a debate on the merits of climate change.

That did not sit well with councillor Carolyn Cameron.

"I don't think anybody can deny the climate is changing," she said.

"I think that is well and truly established and has been for a long time and to discuss that around the table is embarrassing."

no metadata

Her comments followed councillor Lynette Lovett questioning what the report was based on.

She had doubts about any suggestions that climate change was widespread, rapid and intensifying, even though it was a universally accepted situation.

"Is it? Because climate is always changing and we live with it, but a lot of it is people building in the wrong places and it doesn't really address all those issues," Lovett said.

"I don't think it's intensifying, as if you collect records over many years and look at [astronomy] and everything else is [the report] all just computer modelling what people think or have they put in actual records and astrology into this."

Chief executive Hamish Riach said the report was the result of two years of exhaustive scientific research and analysis, and they weren't in the position to debate the merits of the scientific competency of the authors.

"It is very hard from the point of view of officers to debate the merits of the technical report because it has been prepared by scientists who have come to the conclusion that these are the things they have found."

Councillor Stuart Wilson said "for me there is climate change" but he questioned the report's value and its use of Te Reo language.

"A lot of it's kindergarten stuff".

"Pictures and circles, and not English words."

He asked if the mayoral forum had unanimously debated and agreed with it. Riach said they had.

Wilson also asked who had commissioned the report, paid for it and if it would make any difference.

"Government make decisions, so is it purely a read and ring your hands type of report?"

Riach said it had been commissioned and paid for by the mayoral forum but he didn't "know yet whether it will make a difference".

"I think it is a very valuable piece of information gathering on a matter of significant importance," Riach said.

The report formed the basis of the 'It's time Canterbury' climate change campaign of which the council, along with the other Canterbury councils, had signed up to Riach said.

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs