A Massey University energy expert says proposed local government reforms would be a step backwards for sustainability.
Professor Ralph Sims, of the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, is alarmed at the Government consultation document, which states greenhouse gas emission reductions should not be the responsibility of local councils.
His research shows local governments are vital players in engaging their communities to take on renewable energy projects.
There are hundreds of examples of cities providing leadership in sustainability, Professor Sims says. “In Barcelona, the city decided every new building should have
a solar water heater. Now, some years later, that has been taken up across Spain. In England in 2003, the Merton Council decided all new buildings were required to use 10 per cent renewable energy integrated into the building. That policy has been taken up across Great Britain.”
It is initiatives like these that could be lost here in New Zealand under this local government reform, Professor Sims says.
These views were endorsed at a recent workshop on sustainable cities in Wellington, when international and local experts voiced concern at the reform. The workshop included addresses from Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Massey University’s Dr Allanah Ryan and world leading researchers from Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy in Germany and Curtin University in Australia.