Declaring a climate emergency?

Straight from city council
A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris

Let’s talk about emergencies. When a ship’s sinking and there’s no room in the lifeboats, the captain was expected to ‘go down with the ship’. In recent times, Captain Sully of Flight 1549, which landed in New York’s Hudson River, was the last of 155 passengers to leave the aircraft.

In an emergency, we expect authorities to lead by example; otherwise there are consequences. Captain Schettino of the Costa Concordia is serving time in jail, in part, because he left his sinking ship while passengers were still aboard.

The scientific consensus on the reality of climate change is overwhelming. However, equally disturbing is the trend of leaders to “out-do” each other; not with actions, but with words of alarm. Because it’s more important these days to say the right thing than it is to do the right thing.

BOP Regional Councillors declared a ‘climate emergency’. They could have issued a climate ‘statement’, but they chose the word ‘emergency’. The Oxford Dictionary defines an emergency as: “a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action”.

It’s too easy to ask ratepayers to make sacrifices through increased regulation or demanding you get out of your cars. If regional councillors are serious they should lead by personal example. Words matter; as long as the ‘emergency’ declaration exists, never again should the six Tauranga-based councillors take their individual cars and claim mileage for meetings in Whakatane. It’s carpooling from now on. Personal air travel? A declaration of no more overseas holidays would show leadership and silence accusations of hypocrisy.


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