The NCWNZ Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability (CCES) Action Hub held an online meeting on 21 November 2022 at 7 p.m. with Christine Caughey serving as CCES Hub Convenor. Caughey welcomed Ayushi Kachhara, air quality specialist working in the engineering consultancy, WSP. Her topic was “Reducing air pollution could result in lower climate impacts. So where is the hurdle?”
Kachhara outlined the origins of many of the air quality contaminants emitted every day from business, industrial, transport, domestic and other activities. She focused not only on the human health impacts including premature deaths, but also on the impacts on the natural and ecological environments.
Kachhara works to achieve a 50% reduction in CO2 by 2030 in all her projects. But there are roadblocks: Statutes do not consider CO2 emissions. Without this, greenhouse gas emissions are impossible to quantify. Short term pollutants such as black carbon are also ignored. The New Zealand Resource Management Act (RMA) does not seek a carbon assessment as part of a resource consent, nor in emission monitoring.
Inequality was identified, where in many towns older housing was cold and damp. Heating was often a significant pollutant. Wood and coal burners for heating and cooking polluted not only the air inside a home but also the external air quality from chimneys. Such pollution is known to directly affect human health.
Local councils are also challenged by the omission in legislation, by not providing a legal framework through which to improve air quality.
The roadblock to air quality improvement is very real.
The members of the CCES Hub recognized the importance of submissions to address the above in the three bills that are to replace the RMA (see more at the Ko Tātou LGNZ (Local Government) webpage here) and in climate legislation.
Ayushi Kachhara was warmly thanked for her very informative talk that highlighted significant areas of concern, not only in the levels of air pollution, but also in the difficulties in addressing such a critical issue.
For more information on the CCES Action Hub's work on these bills, please contact them at [email protected].