Climate Change

Climate change is one of the biggest environmental challenges we face. It is already affecting our region, and current impacts are will continue and intensify into the future. While we are uncertain about the pace and scale of change, we do know that the Horizons 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. With these factors combined, this issue must be addressed with urgency.
 

What are we doing?

We are working with other agencies in our region and nationally to respond to climate change and support the transition to a sustainable regional economy.

A number of our current work streams align with climate change adaptation - including management of soil erosion and its impacts, flood schemes and emergency management activities. These programmes build resilience for our communities, although climate change has not been the primary driver.

We are taking steps to integrate climate change considerations more actively into our business planning decisions.

In September/October 2020 we held a conversation with our communities asking them to share with us the values they held which could be at risk due to climate change. To do this, we used the platform My Social Pinpoint where someone could drop a marker on a map and share their thoughts or complete a survey. During this period we received comments of high value to us, and the planning we are undertaking in how we prepare to adapt to the affects of climate change.

Alongside scientific reports, expert knowledge and climate data these community values will help to form the basis of a Regional Climate Risk Assessment which is due to be completed in July 2021. If you would like to stay informed on this, please email climatechange@horizons.govt.nz to be added to our database.
 

Greenhouse Gases

Naturally occurring greenhouse gases trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere; they are vital to support life on earth.
However, human activities over the last 150 years have released excess amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, trapping too much heat. The release of these gases is the major cause of climate change.

Major greenhouse gases:

  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
  • Methane (CH4)
  • Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

Key sources of greenhouse gases in our region which are generated from human activities are:
  • Agriculture
  • Transport
  • Stationary energy (e.g. household and business power use)
  • Refrigerants
  • Wastewater
  • Landfill
  • Industrial processing and product use

Emissions and the economy - Horizons Region

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report

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Regional Climate Change Action Plan

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Key climate issues in Manawatū-Whanganui

This changing climate is likely to lead to changes in land-use suitability and impacts on primary production. Changing weather patterns, such as a warmer climate, may provide new opportunities for horticulture or cropping in some areas. However, we will also face significant challenges like more frequent and serious flooding. Climate change is not a problem for the distant future: some of these changes are already starting to be felt. By responding now, we can make our communities more resilient and reduce the overall costs associated with climate change.

Flooding
Changes in extreme weather are likely to increase the frequency and magnitude of flood events.

Erosion
More extreme rainfall and more frequent storm events are likely to increase soil erosion, particularly from hill country areas.

Drought
Reduced rainfall and increased evapotranspiration (transfer of water from land to the atmosphere) are likely to increase incidence of drought across the region; particularly to the east of the Ruahine Ranges.

Water availability
Seasonal changes in rainfall totals are likely to reduce water availability – particularly during the summer months. Projected changes in rainfall vary spatially across the region. It is anticipated that east of the region will get drier, while the north and west will get wetter.

Sea level rise and coastal erosion
Sea levels are projected to rise – this will impact how we live near and use coastlines.
 

Horizons' climate change strategy

A cross-organisational team has been established to develop a Climate Change Strategy for Horizons. The aim of this strategy is to:

  • Set a position on Horizons’ role in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change.
  • Provide a direction on what action Horizons should proactively take.
  • Provide a basis for responding to opportunities and disruptions as they relate to our activities and the outcomes we aim to achieve for our communities.
  • Develop staff understanding of how the strategy approach will relate to Horizons’ day-to-day work.

The strategy is divided into two phases:

Phase one – direction setting
  • Horizons and territorial authorities in our region signed a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2019, undertaking to work together in response to climate change.
  • We are developing objectives and policies to guide Horizons’ effort and investment through the Long-term Plan.

Phase two – action planning
  • Alongside phase one, we have started to work with territorial authorities to produce a joint action plan. In the first instance, this will reflect existing activities that provide a foundation for our climate change response. As we continue to develop our strategy, we will add to our action plan.
  • A regional risk assessment will be an important step in identifying climate-related impacts across the region and agreeing how to prioritise them.
  • Resourcing for new actions will be addressed through Council's Annual Plan and Long-term Plan processes.

Climate Change - State of the Environment Report 2019

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Climate change implications for the Manawatū-Whanganui

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Climate Change and Variability - Horizons Region 2016

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Memorandum of Understanding

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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's have a range of different environmental calculaters available to calculate and offset emissions for your travels, or your household activities.