Local Government Magazine
Last Word

Senseless race to zero

By Mike Yardley writer and media commentator.
As China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam crack on building six hundred more coal-fired power plants, fear not, our city councils are saving the planet.

The Christchurch City Council is bravely facing up to its self-declared climate emergency. They think they can change the world, by creating zero-emission zones. 

You can blame Auckland Council for this. Mayor Phil Goff invited Christchurch to join a United Nations initiative. It’s called the Race to Zero and it pledges to kick out petrol-guzzling cars by 2025 from select areas of the city. Auckland and Wellington have already giddily signed on to this United Nations caper. 

And now it’s Christchurch that’s licking its lips at the chance to posture on fossil fuels.

The council staff are frothing in excitement about sealing off parts of the city to zero-emission transport. Their report says it would reinforce the city’s commitment to strong climate action. The climate change committee chair, Councillor Sara Templeton is fizzing too. Working with other cities is really important. We can’t do it alone says Sarah. 

So these zones would kick out cars powered by fossil fuels. Only EVs would be allowed in, along with your walkers, bikers and buses. Hybrids? No.

The council report earnestly gushes that these zones would not only be cleaner, healthier spaces to mingle in, but quieter. The on-street noise pollution would be dramatically hushed. Cue the pan pipes and joyful sounds of dolphins at play.

Now for Auckland, the city centre is being sized up as a zero-emission zone.

Christchurch hasn’t shown its hand yet, as to where or how many of these fossil-fuel-free zones they are plotting. Although they’ve already mangled the city centre, post-quake. 

Amsterdam, I note has five of these zones. Council staff like the sound of that.

But just imagine being an unsuspecting business owner, a retailer or a worker – or a resident, that just happens to be getting on with life, in an area that ends up being caged as a zero-emission zone. 

I shake my head in despair.

Virtue signalling dross dressed up as positive, meaningful change.  LG

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