Skip to content

Climate change: Our biggest challenge

Climate change: Our biggest challenge

Updated 31 March 2022 12:38pm

We are taking climate action for our region - working with our communities, mana whenua and other partners to adapt to the changing climate.

Our climate emergency

We have declared a climate emergency and formally established a target to become ‘carbon neutral’ by 2030. These announcements are backed by two action plans:

  1. Our Corporate Carbon Neutrality Action Plan
  2. The Regional Climate Emergency Action Plan

The vision is that we will work collectively across the region with key stakeholders such as other councils, mana whenua, businesses and the farming community. We need to work together to limit the impact of climate change on our region by reducing emissions while also preparing for the effects of climate change which are now unavoidable. 

See this update of climate actions we’re taking.

 1. Our Corporate Carbon Neutrality plan

Carbon neutrality is about reducing and offsetting our organisations’ greenhouse gas (‘carbon’) emissions, GW’s own, direct contribution to the causes of climate change. 

We aim to:

  • Be carbon neutral by reducing and offsetting the organisations’ greenhouse gas (‘carbon’) emissions
  • Reduce our net emissions by 40% by 2025
  • Introduce 5-yearly carbon budgets
  • Become climate positive (producing more carbon credits from our land than we need for offsetting) by 2035.

See the 10 points in the Corporate Carbon Neutrality Action Plan.

 2. The Regional Climate Emergency Declaration and Action Plan

The climate emergency declaration encompasses everything when it comes to Greater Wellington and climate change, including:

  • Emissions from the Wellington region as a whole
  • Adapting to the effects of climate change.

The action plan outlines governance and actions that will also support our corporate carbon neutrality work. Read the Regional Climate Emergency Action Plan.

We’re already thinking about what our future might look like and we’re future-proofing the services we provide for our region. This work includes:

  • Flood protection options and schemes for the region - building new stop banks and helping manage local rivers and streams to protect people and assets
  • Leading the Regional Natural Hazards Management Strategy, establishing a coordinated regional approach to planning for hazards
  • Whaitua catchment modelling.

Preparing Coastal Communities for Climate Change

We are also working with local councils through the Wellington Region Climate Change Working Group (WRCCWG).

A technical report, Preparing Coastal Communities for Climate Change, was commissioned to help assess coastal vulnerability to climate change, sea level rise and natural hazards.

See the full report: Assessing coastal vulnerability to climate change, sea level rise and natural hazards.

Update on greenhouse gas emissions

As part of our ongoing monitoring we commissioned an update to the regional greenhouse gas inventory. The main result was that the Wellington Region’s gross emissions fell by 5% between 2001 and 2019, but that transport emissions have grown by 14% over the period.

See the monitoring data on our seasonal climate page

The update relates to all emissions from activities occurring within the region’s boundaries, as well as emissions from all waste generated in the region (regardless of where it is disposed of) and electricity used in the region (regardless of where it is generated). Half of the emissions from air and sea travel beginning or ending at the region’s ports was also included.

Projections and impacts of climate change on our region

A report we commissioned from NIWA projects that there will be significant impacts to our region by 2090 if global emissions are not significantly reduced:

  • Annual regional temperatures will increase by 3°C
  • Wellington and Wairarapa will experience significant increases in hot days
  • Frost in the high elevations of the Tararua Ranges is likely to disappear
  • Spring rainfall will reduce by up to 15% in eastern areas
  • Up to 15% more winter rainfall could be experienced along the west coast
  • The risk of drought will increase in the Wairarapa
  • More extreme rainfall events

Read the full report.

A supplementary 2021 report was commissioned specifically for the Wairarapa, to acknowledge the region as a climate change ‘hotspot’. The report follows the same conclusions as our main 2017 report above, with specific high resolution mapping results for the Wairarapa.

The main recommendations are the same as before, but further highlighting the urgency of achieving carbon neutrality (i.e. becoming ‘carbon positive’) as quickly as possible, and also adapting to the many unavoidable effects of climate change. This new report, released in September 2021, is totally compatible with the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report.

Check out the new Wairarapa climate change video, which was specifically designed to provide our stakeholders with the best possible predictions, and reliable climate change information for the local communities.