West Coast council wants more evidence of man-made climate change before supporting Bill

The West Coast Regional Council (WCRC) wants more evidence proving man-made climate change before it supports the Government's Zero Carbon Bill (ZCB).

Responding to a discussion document for the ZCB, which if enacted would commit New Zealand to zero carbon emissions by 2050 and require governments to set binding five year carbon budgets, the WCRC said it currently "creates too much uncertainty for the West Coast region".

"We suggest the science that underpins the ZCB should be clearly discussed and summarised in order for the layperson to understand and potentially accept it," the council's submission states.

"Climate change is a very complex issue and to ask the people of the West Coast to commit to an emissions target (and accept the subsequent adverse effects discussed below), the evidence proving anthropogenic climate change must be presented and proven beyond reasonable doubt."

While it believes the Bill is well-intentioned, the Council provided a list of reasons for why the implementation of the Bill "is likely to result in substantial costs" to local industries, like mining and agriculture.

For example, reducing agricultural emissions "may cause further job losses on dairy farms" if technology to keep emissions low does not keep pace with targets or is too expensive.

The submission also states that the region only has a limited ability to reduce emissions by planting exotic forests, with 84 percent of land area held within Department of Conservation (DoC) estate.

"It seems fair and just that the West Coast region and its people be rewarded for having saved this great asset over the decades for New Zealand's benefit," it says.

The Council also took issue with the proposed rollout of electric transport in the region, fearing that even with "fast chargers" electric cars may take "20 minutes" to charge, meaning lost time for business vehicles.

"Most tourists coming to the West Coast will not want to wait while their electric rental car (or bus) recharges, and may be deterred from using electric vehicles, or staying longer in the region if recharging adds delays to their trip," it said.

In October, Climate Change Minister James Shaw told Newshub Nation that if everyone was "equally unhappy" with the final state of the Zero Carbon Bill, he would be happy.

"While there's a very clear steer that's coming through from these submissions, there are some quite strong voices in there with concerns about the speed or the scale of the transition, or how it's going to affect particular industries, and you have to pay attention to those voices as well otherwise you just don't have a sustainable solution," he said.