30 Jan 2019

'We'll probably be the first ones affected by climate change' - West Coast MP

3:07 pm on 30 January 2019

The West Coast's local MP doesn't think the climate change views of a few people on the local council reflects those of the region.

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Photo: 123RF

All councils bar one submitted in favour of the Government's Zero Carbon Bill, which would commit them to making changes to better help stave off the effects of climate change.

However the West Coast Regional Council wants proof that committing to emissions targets is worth the social and economic impacts of doing so.

Damien O'Connor - who is the MP for West Coast-Tasman and also a senior government minister - said such views did not reflect the constituency of the West Coast.

"I think most New Zealanders realise that we've got to get on and deal with the realities," he said.

"And for communities so connected to nature like the West Coast, you know we'll probably be the first ones affected by climate change."

The council's planning, science and innovation manager Hadley Mills said the council was not denying climate change, but was struggling to understand it.

"We must be objective and base our decisions on science and that's why we want the science presented really simply; we don't have climate change experts on our staff so we just want everyone to understand it."

He said there was too much uncertainty about the economic and social impact from the bill, and that a lot more work needed to be done so they could understand how jobs and communities might be affected.

Mr O'Connor said he was surprised at the council's position on the matter.

"We need to mitigate some of the acute effects [of climate change] on our communities - and the regional council will have to play their part.

"So I guess they're concerned around their capability to both do that and get the support for the money they need to do that."

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