What's the issue?
Patterns of temperature, rain, wind, and sunshine make up the climate of Aotearoa New Zealand. We have learned to live and thrive with our climate, and tend to take it for granted because we generally know what to expect – even the unexpected.
But the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (mainly from burning fossil fuels for the past 200 years) is changing the climate around the world and in our own country.
The changing climate is affecting us, but it is a two-way street – our actions and activities are also affecting the climate. Many of the things we do every day contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Our future is interconnected with the climate because climate shapes social, cultural, and economic aspects of our lives.
We know that the changing climate will have implications on New Zealand's weather systems, freshwater availability and our communities' exposure to hazards.
In Southland, over time, we are likely to experience warmer weather all year round, summers will have more dry days and there will be extended periods of relatively higher temperatures. Average annual rainfall is projected to increase, mostly in winter and spring, and is likely to occur in more intense events. Coastal flooding will increase steadily with increasing incidents of pure tidal flooding even on fine days.
Some other general Southland impacts include an increase the frequency of severe weather, and the size and duration of unprecedented weather events.
What are we doing?
Environment Southland is working with regional partners on a response to climate change in partnership with Southland’s three other councils – Gore District Council, Invercargill City Council and Southland District Council.
A Regional Climate Change Inter-agency Group made up of tangata whenua representatives, elected representatives, and key staff, of all councils in the region is working collaboratively to ensure we are tackling the issues at a regional level.
The priority for this group is to develop the Regional Climate Change Strategy. This work will provide key information for the development of each council’s Long-term Plans, driving Murihiku Southland’s long-term response to climate change.
The inter-agency group will make recommendations to councils, including considering climate change impacts into planning processes, agreeing on areas where councils can work together and talking to communities about potential impacts of climate change in the region.
Each council is also developing plans to address climate change impacts specific to their own communities and areas.
Organisational Greenhouse Gas emissions baseline project
- Environment Southland has developed an organisational Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions baseline measurement to understand the emissions we produce from our operations
- This project will also establish the associated systems for ongoing measurement, reporting and management of GHG emissions.
- Environment Southland plays an important role in climate change action in Murihiku Southland. While a lot of our efforts are in the climate adaptation space, for example the maintenance and improvement of the region’s flood protection network, measurement of GHG emissions are also important and a key step in our own emissions reduction journey.
You can read a copy of the Environment Southland Greenhouse Gas Emissions Baseline Report here.
Net zero target
In April 2023, Environment Southland councillors adopted an organisational target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Net zero means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions being offset through actions like planting trees.
Climate Change Sub-committee
The Climate Change sub-committee, which meets once every two months, consists of six councillors as well as a mana whenua representative and will report to the Strategy and Policy Committee on its progress.
Its objectives are to:
- to help drive Environment Southland’s action on climate change.
- report to the Strategy and Policy Committee on its progress.
Climate Resilience Projects
Environment Southland is engaged in projects to help ensure vulnerable towns in our region are more resilient for the future. In Waihōpai Invercargill, we are collaborating with Invercargill City Council on projects to bolster the city's flood protection in response to a changing climate. These projects will build greater resiliency in the face of climate change for our communities and critical infrastructure.
See our Climate resilience projects.
What can you do?
Here’s a range of informative links about climate change and actions you can take:
What is climate change?
- Climate Science videos:
This website has a series of short videos that talk about climate change and the problem, and then breaks down a range of different solutions, such as personal action and adaptation. Read more here.
- What is climate change: GenLess is part of EECA and this page provides a range of information about climate change and what it means, as well as resources about government initiatives. Read more here.
- We asked to be heard: An initiative from Christchurch City Council, giving a voice to 10-14 year olds in Otautahi Christchurch to hear their thoughts on climate change. Read more here.
- Videos about our changing climate: Read more here.
Environment Southland resources
- Environment Southland maintains flood protection and control schemes to protect property, lives and livelihoods. Check out our natural hazards map on our mapping service Beacon
- The Breathe Easy website has information and tools on air quality in Southland: Read more here.
- Climate Action Toolbox: A NZ government initiative, that provides businesses with resources on how to measure their emissions and create emissions reduction plans. Read more here.
- Work out your greenhouse gas emissions – here’s one tool you could try. If you already have an OVERSEER nutrient budget, this will give you this information.
- Join the low carbon economy: GenLess is part of EECA and provides a range of low to higher cost initiatives businesses could undertake to reduce their footprints. Read more here.
Measuring your impact
- Measure your ecological footprint: The footprint calculator from the Global Footprint Network calculates how many planets we need if everyone lived like you do. Read more here.
- Discover your impact on the planet: Future Fit is an initiative from Auckland City Council and it gives you an idea of the impact of your lifestyle on the planet and see how everyday actions can make a difference.] Read more here.
What can you do? Resources
- What can you do
- How to live a low carbon lifestyle: GenLess is part of EECA and this link provides a series of things you can do – from free actions, those that cost a bit and those that need greater investment. Read more here.
- Take action: A range of initiatives from MfE for what you can do locally. Read more here.
Government and strategic resources
- Ngai Tahu Climate Change Strategy Te tāhū o te whāriki: Read more here.
- National Adaptation Plan: Read more here
- Emissions Reduction Plan: Read more here
Environment Southland climate action timeline
Late 2023 - Climate change perceptions survey to be rolled out region wide
April 2023 - Environment Southland adopts carbon net zero target - read more here
February 2023 - First Climate Change Inter-agency Group meeting held to help develop Regional Climate Change Strategy
2022 - Climate Change Commission Chair presents to councils and TAMI - read more here
2022 - Environment Southland to set up regional climate change working group - read more here
2022 - Environment Southland creates Climate Change sub-committee - read more here
2021 - Council ratifies climate action plan - read more here
2020 - Council introduces hybrid vehicles to council fleet
2019 - Transition from paper-based Council agendas to electronic agendas
2019 - Councillors commit to accord urgency to developing a climate change action plan - read more here
2018 - Southland Climate Change Impact Assessment - read more here
2017 - Environment Southland became a signatory to the Local Government Leaders' Climate Change Declaration.
2014 - Environment Southland replaced its coal boiler with a woodchip boiler