Climate Change

Environment, Waste & Water

Together we're developing climate change action for the Timaru District

What Can Your Household Do - Interactive PDF

To mark World Environment Day 2024, Timaru DC and our neighbours in Waimate DC are together publishing a householders guide to adapting to climate change. The downloadable 16 page document includes live links to useful websites from NZ government agencies, universities and consumer organisations to provide additional information. It covers both adapting to weather changes accelerated by global warming and help in reducing your household’s emissions of the greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide from burning fuels, that drive warming.

Adobe Reader will give good results with this publication but it will also open in a web browser.  For the free Adobe Reader software, go to

You can also view these on our website - What Can Our Household Do?

The Challenge

The Timaru District Council recognises that if future generations are to have a liveable future we must all take action now to adapt to and mitigate climate change.  This was recognised by Council in the passing of the Long Term Plan 2021-2031 with Council allocating $360,000 per annum in 2021 for the next 10 years for a Climate Change work programme.

With increasing threats posed by climate change to our District such as loss of coastal property due to higher sea levels and inland flooding caused by more intense rainfall, heat stress, and crop losses due to more severe droughts, we need to work together to plan for any required adaptation and also demonstrate progress on reducing emissions (mitigation). For the region-wide picture see It's Time Canterbury website:

Rangitata River in FloodRail route blocked by flood


  • Early in 2022 Dr Phil Driver was commissioned to facilitate making a community-based strategy for the District, focussed broader than an internal document to guide Council work, but timed to suggest input ideas and priorities to the Council’s Long Term Plan update in 2024. Dr Driver's initial work was a scoping exercise to investigate the priorities of elected members, relevant council managers, Mana Whenua, business executives and their associations, farming representatives, social service providers, and community representatives. Findings confirmed a strong community mandate for action.
  • The series of 50 one-to-one interviews with local leaders gave a clear message that South Canterbury was ready to engage with these issues, and also that serious financial commitment was already being made by businesses. Collaboration with the Canterbury Mayoral Forum Its Time Canterbury aligned with the Climate Change work programme Timaru District Council was undertaking.
  • A well-attended public meeting at Caroline Bay on 21 September 2022 with expert contributors and local speakers, confirmed public interest (links below + recording of this event). This was backed up by drop-in sessions held at libraries. Two open meetings in October held at the Eco Centre, on an evening and a Saturday, identified local issues, some first themes for follow-up consideration and potential volunteers for an advisory group to assist Dr Driver.  Additional recruits were found to give a broader geographic, age and gender spread.
  • On 18 January 2023 an open meeting focussed on Coastal inundation and Erosion, with so much interest that another on the same theme was organised in Temuka for 22 March, also fully subscribed.
  • On 8 February the theme was domestic food resilience, and on 22 February we examined lower- emission, more resilient transport. Water supply resilience followed on 8 March. Ideas from each of these issues were worked into SubStrategies.
  • It has been proposed that additional SubStrategies be produced by an independent body, providing useful information and advice from many sources relevant to South Canterbury, with users including but not limited to TDC. Trust structure, governance and sponsorship is yet to be established, and Council connections were discussed by District Councillors in November 2023 and February 2024 but not resolved.
  • As part of our engagement with the community on climate change, we also heard from youth. Below is a Word Cloud on the images which came to young people's mind on the topic of climate change in 2023.Timaru District Mayor,  Nigel Bowen is getting behind our efforts toward reducing impacts on our climate by growing vegetables and transitioning to a hybrid vehicle.

The Approach Taken

One of the first things that stakeholders asked for was a clear message from our elected members defining the scope of the Council’s commitment to taking action on climate change. Draft governance statements were prepared, which built on the intent of the Long Term Plan 2021-31 commitment and reflected the stakeholder feedback provided during the scoping phase. At a Council meeting on 28 June 2022 Council endorsed the following statements for sharing with our community:

The Timaru District Council will:

1. Be a climate-friendly council. We will adapt to Climate Change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Council’s operations wherever feasible.

2. Lead and facilitate mitigation and adaptation projects with others. We will enable, empower and inspire substantial climate change actions by many stakeholders in the district, including collaborations with our Tiriti partners.

3. Encourage others to learn and adapt. We will guide and support communities that are most vulnerable to climate change, i.e., those who are

  • most exposed to climate change
  • badly impacted by climate change
  • least resilient

Rhys Taylor joined our team part-time in mid 2022 as Climate Change Advisor and now works full-time to provide internal guidance and direction as we take action on climate change and to support our community of stakeholders through the next steps for the District. Rhys Taylor comes from a background of community education on sustainability with Councils across NZ and also work with Environment Canterbury supporting local river catchment groups. He is also a voluntary trustee of Sustainable South Canterbury Trust, which has built the Eco Centre (with support from TDC, Mid & South Canterbury Community Trust, business sponsors and legacies).

Dr. Phil Driver led the development of a first draft of the district-wide Climate Change Strategy. The strategy work is guided by the Governance Statements together with public and stakeholder input via a series of workshops and an advisory group,  from September 2022 through to mid 2023. As an initial response in  February 2024, Council considered mostly in-house actions, adopting a Climate Change Response Policy.

Climate Science

We learned at our first meeting (at Caroline Bay, 21st Sept 2022), about the science of global climate change, how it will impact our district, how to manage climate anxiety and some actions others are already taking locally to address climate change. If you missed it, the links to five film recordings are below.

TDC Mayor Nigel BowenDr Phil Driver, facilitator

Part 1 - Introduction and welcome by Mayor Bowen, Environment Committee Chair Cr. Barbara Gilchrist and Dr Phil Driver

prof James Renwick

Part 2 - Video of Prof. James Renwick’s talk on changes in the atmosphere and weather

prof Tim Naish

Part 3 - Professor Tim Naish on changes in the ocean and coastlines

prof Bronwyn HaywardPeter Cochraine

Part 4 - Prof Bronwyn Hayward on social and political responses to climate change, followed by Peter Cochrane on the Canterbury Climate Change Risk Assessment

James Driver (psychotherapist)Kaia George (school student)Gary Aitkin (Temuka Transport)Nigel Davenport (Venture Timaru)Carolyn Cooper (Presbyterian Support)

Brett King (Fulton Hogan)Mark Adams (Catchments Collective SC)Justine Carson-Iles (teacher)Barb Gilchrist

Part 5 - A ten-minute presentation on ‘managing climate anxiety’ by psychotherapist James Driver, followed by a series of short lively talks by local people: Kaia George from Timaru Girls High School, Gary Aitkin from Temuka Transport, Nigel Davenport from Venture Timaru/Sustainable is Attainable, Carolyn Cooper from Presbyterian Social Support, Brett King from Fulton Hogan, Mark Adams from Catchments Collective South Canterbury and Justine Carson-Iles from Kiwi Conservation Club & Mountainview High School. Closing comments from the event hosts.

Where can I find out more?

General public information on climate change
Website hosted by Environment Canterbury and containing a wide range of information on climate change including a Timaru relevant page

Download climate change risk assessment relating specifically to Canterbury and South Canterbury
Technical summary 3 February 2022, Canterbury Climate Change Risk Assessment, Prepared for the Canterbury Mayoral Forum

Detailed international information on the physical science basis of climate change
Climate Change 2021 – The Physical Science Basis - Working Group I Contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, endorsed by 198 countries

Detailed international information on impacts, adaptations and vulnerabilities due to climate change
Climate Change 2022 – Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, Working Group II Contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, endorsed by 195 countries

Detailed international information on mitigating climate change
Climate Change 2022 – Mitigation of Climate Change – Working Group III Contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, endorsed by 195 countries

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2023 Synthesis Report 

The recommendations to government of the New Zealand Climate Change Commission

New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions compared to other countries New Zealand Ministry for the Environment comparison of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions compared to other countries

Timaru District Climate Change Management Strategy Ideas for action distilled from interviews with 52 key Timaru District Stakeholders

Commercial Food Resilience Presentation with Guest Panel - 5th July 2023

Timaru District Council Climate Change Response Policy:

Last updated: 07 Jun 2024