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Climate Emergency – What does it mean?

First thing to know is that climate change does not satisfy the definition of an “emergency” under the Civil Defense and Emergency Management Act 2002, and that a declaration of a “climate emergency” has no other inherent statutory or legal implications.

This declaration supports those of us who have been advocating for reduced waste, it validates those voices that have been asking for more to be done, it provides a platform for all discussions going forward to have a ‘how does this impact the planet?’ layer to them.

This declaration makes caring for the planet mainstream and the support for this declaration shows this is not a fridge group of people.

What does this mean for the average person?

The flow on effects of this declaration may not seem immediately clear as the way that the city responses depends on numerous variables. The most obvious thing that will come of this is that Climate Change will now be centre stage and will be considered through the city’s programs and decisions. It means that we can expect more initiatives like the electric buses, compostable packaging trials, and battery collection

What does it mean for the average business?

There will likely be pressure on businesses and organisations to reduce their carbon emissions and start putting in place waste reduction goals with systems in place to track progress. We should assume that Christchurch’s acknowledgement of this issue will lead to Central Government action on Climate Change and potentially more regulations similar to the Plastic Bag Ban.

What does this mean for New Zealand?

A climate emergency declaration means that, like other issues such as women voting and nuclear energy, we have an opportunity as a country to lead by example and show the rest of the world what can be done when we actively strive to make a positive difference.

What one person can do

Join the discussion of how this might unfold in our city:

  1. Share your views to inform our city targets and actions. There is a 5-minute survey open until midnight 31 May. Take the Christchurch Climate Change Survey.
  2. Sustainable Ōtautahi Christchurch AGM will discuss next steps. Thursday 20 June, 6.30pm, Canterbury WEA, 59 Gloucester Street. To enquire about membership ($15) email
  3. Sustainable Ōtautahi Christchurch plans to host a workshop session in June, follow their page or subscribe to their newsletter for updates
  4. Follow Extinction Rebellion for information and resources as they become available

Start implementing sustainable changes in your own life:

  • Learn about what a sustainable system might look like through Circular Economy in practice. Follow us for upcoming workshops/presentation details
  • Find out about resources in your community. Places to start include the Christchurch Sharing map (launching first week of June), Community Facebook groups
  • Reduce your household environmental impact through swapping to reusables and compostables, shopping locally and getting on your bike. For information and resources on this see Eco Oikos blog, Zero Waste in NZ Facebook group, The Rubbish Whisperer


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