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New Zealand local government leaders join global community to address climate change

1 Dec 2015

Local Government New Zealand official envoy Sir Bob Harvey will travel to Paris to attend the United Nation’s 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) climate change deliberations starting this week, where New Zealand’s central and local government leaders will join Heads of State and Government from across the world to unite and take action for global climate issues.

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says New Zealand has much at stake and much to gain by adopting strong leadership on climate change and ambitious emission reduction targets at the United Nations climate change Conference in Paris.

“Climate change and sea level rise are increasingly important factors in policy making for local government. Developing and implementing ambitious action plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support resilience within our local communities is a key goal for local government,” says Mr Yule.

The Mayor of Auckland, Len Brown, and Sir Bob Harvey, LGNZ’s official envoy, are amongst the New Zealand government delegation in attendance. Sir Bob Harvey served as Mayor of Waitakere City from 1992 to 2010 through six consecutive terms – a first in over a century – and has been a passionate advocate for sustainability in communities locally, nationally and globally.

Mr Yule says the vision and commitment Sir Bob Harvey has to environmental initiatives, and his local, national and global involvement in this area, makes him the perfect choice to stand as LGNZ’s official envoy at COP21.

“Alongside his deep commitment to the Waitakere community, Sir Bob has represented New Zealand’s local government at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg and as a member of the Australasian Mayors for Climate Change, to name a few. We are honoured to have his support in Paris,” says Mr Yule.

Ahead of COP21, local government leaders from across New Zealand have united to push for more coordinated action via the Local Government Leaders Climate Change Declaration. The declaration received strong support from major cities and smaller communities around New Zealand with a total of 29 mayors and chairs signing up.

“The declaration encourages Government to be more ambitious with climate change mitigation measures and underlines our support for Government to work with councils, communities and businesses to develop and implement an ambitious transition plan towards a low carbon and resilient New Zealand,” said Mr Yule.

“It also outlines key commitments our councils will take in responding to the opportunities and risks posed by climate change and recommends important guiding principles for responding to it,” said Mr Yule.

In particular, the declaration calls for Government to prioritise development a holistic economic assessment of New Zealand’s vulnerability to impacts of climate change and the opportunities and benefits of responding to these.

COP21 runs for two weeks, closing on 11 December 2015. The conference is expected to attract close to 50,000 participants including 25,000 official delegates from government, intergovernmental organisations, UN agencies, Non-Government Organisations and civil society.