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Community curbing climate change

Masterton councillor Chris Peterson, right, and councillor Sandy Ryan, centre, at a community planting last year. PHOTO/FILE

Masterton District Council has approved the formation of a community-based focus group to curb climate change.

The group would form a district action plan with council to meet government’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The council said in a report it would be taking a two-plan approach to its response to addressing impacts of climate change.

“The first stage is a Corporate Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan to guide council’s journey to become a net zero carbon organisation. This is an internal plan that focuses on what council can do better as an organisation to reduce our emissions.

“The second stage will be co-developing the District Action Plan with mana whenua and the community in the first half of 2021.”

The council said the two plans would set out its “blueprint for moving our district towards carbon zero 2050”.

The proposed approach to the focus group would be community only, with council members actively observing their meetings.

“By setting up the focus group as a community only membership we are enabling the ‘community-led council supported’ and ‘self-determining’ principles as stated in the Social Development strategic direction of council’s Wellbeing Strategy, He Hiringa Tangata, He Hiringa Whenua,” the council said.

Councillor Chris Peterson said at Wednesday’s council meeting that he thought the group would be a great start, but hoped it wasn’t the only thing council would be doing for climate change.

“There is some traction across the region to have a citizens assembly,” he said.

“It’s quite significantly different in that focus groups would be looking for people that have an interest in climate change, whereas a citizens assembly would be randomly selected from across the community from all demographics.”

Mayor Lyn Patterson said that what came from the focus group would then go back to council to form the District Action Plan.

The council said there were advantages in not having elected members appointed on the focus group, one of which being the ability for several elected members to participate and engage with the group – rather than a few being selected.

Elected members of council were encouraged to consider participating in the group when available.

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