Climate Change

Kai Iwi Beach looking northwest

Whanganui District Council is committed to mitigating the impacts of climate change on our district, as well as enabling our community and local economy to become better adapted and resilient in the face of climate change.

Te Rautaki Huringa Āhuarangi / Climate Change Strategy

The purpose of this strategy is to plot a course for action to both mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to provide a framework for collaboration across the Whanganui District and beyond among tangata whenua, iwi, neighbouring councils, central government, non-government organisations, private industry, education, our communities and people.

This strategy is about human activity and changing the way we think and live to reduce our impact on our planet. As such, this strategy has the health and well-being of the environment at its core, followed by the health and well-being of people, and the social and economic well-being of people and communities, now and in the future.

Mitigation is about reducing the amount of change to our climate that we will experience in the future, through minimising or preventing the emission of greenhouse gases. 
Adaptation is about modifying the way we live and do things as a result of the changes we will experience, to reduce the impacts of climate change. 

Read the strategy(PDF, 2MB)

What is climate change?

Earth’s atmosphere is made up of oxygen, a large amount of nitrogen and a small amount of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane. Greenhouse gasses are responsible for maintaining a balanced temperature in the earth's atmosphere. High levels of greenhouse gas result in higher atmospheric temperatures that have a far-reaching impact on the earth's climate.

There has been a dramatic increase in levels of greenhouse gas over the past 200 years causing an unprecedented rise in the earth's temperature.

The worst effects of climate change can be mitigated if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to net zero over the course of this century.

Visit the Ministry for the Environment website for more information

What does climate change mean for the Whanganui District?

Climate change will affect different parts of the world in different ways. Without concerted action it is expected that within the lifetime of children living in our district today:

  • temperatures will rise significantly, with consequences for health, the agricultural sector and native plants and wildlife
  • rainfall in the north of our district will increase significantly, raising the risk of floods and slips
  • storm events will become more frequent and more severe, also increasing flood and slip risks as well as coastal erosion
  • sea levels will rise, potentially impacting low-lying areas and increasing coastal erosion
  • droughts will occur more frequently, affecting our agricultural sector and potentially restricting the availability of clean water
  • the risk of forest fires will increase.

Climate change projections for the Manawatu-Whanganui region

What are we doing about climate change?

Long-Term Plan and Annual Plan

Whanganui District Council’s long term planning has considered the potential impacts of climate change and factored in measures to enable our community infrastructure to adapt to the effects of climate change.

The council’s 30 Year Infrastructure Strategy(PDF, 4MB) identifies the likelihood of warmer temperatures, increased winter rainfall, changes to river flows as a result of less winter snowfall and earlier spring melt, and an increase in storm activity, local wind extremes and thunderstorms.

This could lead to increased sedimentation of the river and increase the impact of high tides and storm surges at the coast. This is likely to increase damage and disruption to infrastructure, transport, utility networks and other public services. It will put more pressure on storm water systems and power supplies.

Climate Change Discussions

In September 2019 Whanganui District Council initiated a series of public meetings and online discussions to gather ideas on how Whanganui could response to the challenges of climate change. The feedback from these discussions will provide insights that will inform our Climate Change Strategy.

Read the discussion document(PDF, 5MB)
[ See what people said ]

Other initiatives

Other initiatives the council currently has in place to support environmental sustainability are: