Climate change  |  13 Oct 2022

Christchurch City Council is encouraging everyone to think about what actions they can take, big or small, to reduce their carbon emissions, but what is the Council doing?

Ways you can lower your emissions

  • Petrol and diesel road transport are our biggest source of emissions. Walking or going by bike, bus, scooter, ride-share or an electric vehicle (EV) instead are big ways to help, and can save time and money.
  • Sorting the right stuff into the right bins reduces waste going to landfill, lowering emissions and saving money.
  • Making our homes energy efficient and adopting good habits like switching off lights and appliances when not in use will lower your household’s emissions and reduce your power bill. 
  • Shopping close to home means shorter trips and fewer emissions. It also means showing our small businesses and communities some love – even better if we walk, bike, use an EV or take the bus instead of the car.
  • Working from home for one day a week can mean cutting emissions from two trips in a vehicle. Talk to your employer about options that would suit both of you.

Learn about other things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.

“We are doing our best to lead by example and are working on a wide range of measures that will help get us to the goal of Christchurch being a net zero carbon city by 2045,’’ says Council Climate Resilience Lead Tony Moore.

“No single act will get us to that goal – a collection of actions is required, which is why we are looking at all facets of the Council’s operations to see how we can reduce our carbon footprint.

“We are also putting a lot of effort into supporting people to take their own climate action because we know that we will only achieve our climate goals if we all work together,’’ Mr Moore says.

Reducing energy use

To help reduce the city’s carbon footprint, the Council has been working on a project to convert all of the city’s street lights to LEDs, which are more energy efficient and require less maintenance. The project has been under way since 2012 and has helped to reduce the city’s carbon emissions by more than 1150 tonnes a year.

“We have been working to reduce our use of fossil-fuels and wherever possible we are using sustainable energy sources. For example, an innovative wastewater heat recovery system is being incorporated into the new Parakiore Metro Sports Facility that will help keep heating costs down and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our parks unit is increasingly using zero-emissions vehicles and battery electric power tools to do the work they need to do to maintain the city’s parks and green spaces.

“The parks unit has also been working extensively with community groups on planting projects across the district,'' Mr Moore says.

“We know we cannot plant our way out of climate change, but planting more trees provides a wide range of benefits, including absorbing carbon emissions, reducing noise, providing shade and shelter, improving physical and mental wellbeing, and supports nature throughout our Garden City. 

"Council staff have been working on a Tree and Urban Forest Plan that aims to increase the number of trees grown in Christchurch.’’

More transport choice

Mr Moore says transport is another area where the Council knows it can make a difference.

Bus priority measures are helping to make public transport in Christchurch more reliable.

“Road transport accounts for 36 per cent of Christchurch’s total emissions so the Council has been working to make it easier, safer and healthier for people to choose low-emission ways to get around,’’ he explains.

“We have been working with neighbouring districts and Environment Canterbury to deliver a fully integrated public and active transport system, making it easier and quicker for people to get around on buses, cycles, e-bikes, scooters and walking.

“We want to make public transport an attractive option, which is why we have been investing in bus priority measures along busy roads such as Riccarton, Lincoln and Papanui roads. Environment Canterbury is playing its parts too by introducing $1 bus fares for under 25s and $2 bus fares for everyone else.

“We also want to encourage people to use active forms of transport, like cycling, walking and scooting. We are creating more than 60 kilometres of cycleways, plus a network of shared paths and cycle lanes throughout the city for fast, fun, simple and safe travel on foot, by bike or scooter. In the new year we will be consulting on the Draft Christchurch Transport plan which sets the direction for transport in Christchurch for the next 30 years.

The Take Charge Christchurch expo gave Christchurch residents the chance to learn more about battery electric vehicles.

“We have also been promoting the benefits of switching to zero-emission vehicles. For example, in September we held the Take Charge Christchurch Expo to give residents the chance to learn more about battery electric vehicle technology and to see the range of electric vehicles on the market.

“We have also installed 90 electric vehicle charging points at key locations throughout the city and Banks Peninsula to complement the network of more than 500 charging sites across the country.

Supporting community action

Mr Moore says there is a large range of community-led climate action, which the Council supports financially through its Sustainability Fund.

“The Sustainability Fund is all about encouraging new ideas and supporting the many groups, schools and businesses in our communities who are working on ways to reduce their emissions or to grow resilience to the impacts of climate change,’’ says Mr Moore.

“An example of some of the projects we have been able to help through the Sustainability Fund include initiatives such as a car-sharing network for the Little River community, a climate coach to help reduce emissions in Lyttelton, and a new Climate Action Campus in Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor.’’

Applications to the Sustainability Fund close on 31 October so get your ideas in now.

Climate Resilience Strategy

The Kia tūroa te Ao Ōtautahi Christchurch Climate Resilience Strategy outlines the Council’s commitment to providing strong climate action leadership. The strategy sets out the framework for collective action that will help Christchurch reach its target of net zero emissions by 2045.

The strategy sets four climate change goals for the city, which are underpinned by 10 climate action programmes.

“We are currently focusing on our Long Term Plan to align all Council spending towards climate resilience,’’ Mr Moore says.

*If you’re interested in learning more about what the Council is doing in partnership with University of Canterbury to address the climate emergency, be sure to register for the upcoming Tītohu Tūroa|Sustainability Showcase. This free event takes place on Friday 28 October at UC’s Ilam Campus Engineering Core to share how research combined with work by local organisations is creating a better future for the communities of Ōtautahi Christchurch and beyond.