Climate Change

Climate change is one of the biggest environmental challenges we face. While we are uncertain about the pace and scale of change, we do know that our region is already being affected by increasing temperatures, changes to rainfall patterns, river flows, increased drought, and ongoing sea-level rise. A changing climate will also affect our economy, and way of life.

Concern about climate change is growing. Protest movements, public submissions, discussions with community groups and our iwi partners all show us that local people want to see action. We need to prepare for a future that is different from today – and we must do so with urgency.

Climate change summary graphic

Climate Action Strategy

Everybody has a role to play in responding to climate change – central government, local councils, tangata whenua, community groups, businesses and individuals. At Horizons, we see our role as facilitating and directly contributing to an effective, constructive response to climate change in our region.

We aim to:
  • Build the resilience of communities and our environment to the effects of a changing climate.
  • Support the transition to a sustainable, carbon-neutral regional economy by 2050.
  • Ensure central and local government efforts are aligned to the needs of our region.

Our Climate Action Strategy considers both mitigation (avoiding and reducing greenhouse gas emissions) and adaptation (taking action to prepare for the effects of a changing climate) responses to climate change.

Over the next 12 months Horizons will be developing a Climate Action Plan which will include emissions reduction targets for our activities at Horizons and priority areas for adapting to a changing climate. To inform our Climate Action Plan we have undertaken work to better understand our greenhouse emissions and work to understand the risks our region might face in changing climate.

Horizons’ role is to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural wellbeing of communities – now, and for the future. The potential impact of climate change on future wellbeing makes it relevant to everything we do.

Climate Action Strategy - PDF, 4MB


Adaptation means modifying the way we do things to reduce the impact of a changing climate on us and on the environment. Although it’s not entirely clear how climate change will affect our communities, we can be sure that things will change. We also have a good idea of the sorts of impacts to expect.

The climate affects where it’s safe to live, infrastructure (like roads and water pipes), jobs, food supply, health, cultural practices, recreational activities, and our environment. Some of these impacts will be minor; others will be challenging for us to manage – but they will also present opportunities if we are able to respond proactively and collaboratively.

To better understand the challenges we may face the Manawatū-Whanganui Climate Change Risk Assessment has been developed in collaboration with other councils in our region. The risk assessment provides one of the first steps toward building resilience to climate change across the region.

Many of these risks will be reduced by work we already do at Horizons, over the next few months we will be identifying and prioritising further work that we need to do.


Mitigation means reducing the amount of greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere. A certain amount of change is locked in, due to past emissions – but we can limit future impacts by reducing emissions from now. The Paris Agreement seeks to limit temperature increase to 1.5-2.0°C above pre-industrial levels. Global temperatures have already risen by 0.8-1.0°C, so the window to respond is closing quickly.

Each individual, household, organisation, and industry will need to make changes if we are to meet these targets. To better understand the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in our region we commissioned work to quantify how much and what activities are generating greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse gases summary graphic

In line with national targets and our shared responsibility, Horizons has adopted a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with our organisation’s activities of 30 percent by 2030 as an interim target. We have recently commissioned an inventory of Horizon’s greenhouse gas emissions to better understand our emissions profile and opportunities to make reductions. The main emission sources from our activities include petrol and diesel use in our vehicle fleet and office waste that goes to landfill. We are looking at ways to reduce the carbon footprint generated through our activities.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report - PDF, 4MB

Regional collaboration

Climate change calls for leadership at a local and regional level. Horizons is a signatory to the Local Government Leaders’ Climate Change Declaration, as well as a Memorandum of Understanding with other councils in our region. These documents commit us to working together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve resilience to the effects of a changing climate.

We have established a Climate Action Joint Committee with representation from each of the region’s eight councils and tangata whenua representatives. This is a milestone both in our response to climate change and in our partnership with iwi. Māori perspectives will enrich deliberations and improve decision making. The Climate Action Joint Committee objectives include development of a regional Climate Action Plan.

Horizons acknowledges Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the place of tangata whenua in local decision making. We are committed to upholding the Treaty’s principles of partnership, protection, and participation as we respond to climate change. We will work through what this looks like in practice together with iwi and hapū.

What we are doing

Many of Horizons’ existing activities take climate change into account. It is identified as an issue in both the One Plan and our Infrastructure Strategy. Core functions like flood protection and land management provide a starting point for an action plan that will evolve as we better understand risks and opportunities, and reach agreement on what needs to be done.

Resource Management: managing the use of natural resources and effects of development on freshwater, land, air and the coast; avoiding further risks from natural hazards, and supporting renewable energy generation.

Sustainable Land and Riparian Management: supporting the fencing and planting of riparian margins and sustainable land use in erosion-prone hill country.

Biosecurity: regional pest management to minimise the adverse effects of plant and animal pests on indigenous biodiversity and habitat and on the regional economy.

Biodiversity: protecting and enhancing the region’s indigenous biodiversity through active management of priority sites, monitoring, and support for community and landowner action.

Transport: regional land transport planning and public transport services across the region, including low emissions and active transport options.

Hazard and Emergency Management: working with territorial authorities and other agencies to reduce the risk of hazards, raise awareness, maintain readiness and provide response and recovery capabilities.

Flood Protection and River Control: protecting people, property and infrastructure from flooding by containing floods, building and maintaining drainage infrastructure, and reducing the effects of river erosion.

Information, Research and Monitoring: collecting reliable environmental data and carrying out research, and ensuring its availability within and outside Horizons, as a basis for the development of sound policies and actions.

Strategic Management: providing proactive, coherent policy responses across the organisation on emerging and ongoing issues; engaging with central government and other regional councils to ensure national policy reflects local realities, and that the right tools are available to achieve change.

Council Operations: incremental changes to improve energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions from our offices and vehicle fleet.

Decision Making: from September 2020, decisions across all Council activities have considered climate impacts.


Climate Change - State of the Environment Report 2019


Climate change implications for the Manawatū-Whanganui


Climate Change and Variability - Horizons Region


Council submissions to Central Government

Responding to climate change is also a priority for Central Government. There have been a number of consultation processes since early 2021 on how New Zealand can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach its zero carbon targets. Horizons’ submissions on these are available below. This work informs a national emissions reduction plan, due out in May 2022. Consultation on a national adaptation plan is expected in early 2022.

Useful resources

Alongside our information, here is a variety of other useful and relevant climate change resources that are available.

NIWA’s mission is to conduct leading environmental science to enable the sustainable management of natural resources for New Zealand. Read their climate change information here.

Resources from the Royal Society to help you discover what climate change will mean for New Zealand.

The mission of the Deep South Challenge is to enable New Zealanders to adapt, manage risk, and thrive in a changing climate. Find out more here.

Read all things climate change from the Ministry for the Environment, including what the Government is doing, and why climate change matters.

This first national climate change risk assessment from MfE helps the Government identify where it needs to prioritise action. Read the report here.

Our Future Climate New Zealand is an interactive website designed by NIWA to give you the ability to look at a number of climate change projections for New Zealand.

Toitū Envirocare has a range of different environmental calculators available to calculate and offset emissions for your travels, or your household activities.