Climate Change Projects

People in Otago have said they want communities that are resilient in the face of climate change. Working together and being proactive are key to effective response.

We are planning right across our organisation to plan and respond. This spans from flood and drainage infrastructure, understanding hazards and risks, public transport, science, through to policy, education and engagement. We will help you understand what changes to expect, how these changes may affect your lives, and giving you the most up-to-date information we have so you can plan proactively. 

We also assist Otago’s district and city councils through collaborative projects planning. Climate change considerations are part of this work. 

Two complementary pathways exist for responding to the risks and challenges related to climate change, these are: mitigation and adaptation. As defined by the IPCC, ‘mitigation’ of climate change is a human intervention to reduce the source or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases (GHG) while adaptation to climate change, is the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects. In human systems, adaptation seeks to moderate or avoid harm or exploit opportunities. In some natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects. 

Three projects commissioned by ORC that are focusing on mitigation: the analysis of ORC’s greenhouse gas emissions which was presented to Council in November 2020, the Otago Regional Greenhouse Gas Inventory, and an investigation on the feasibility of ORC's lower emissions public transport. 

ORC owns and maintains flood protection and drainage schemes across Otago, to protect our local communities from experiencing the full extent of damaging flood events. 

We have been collecting and analysing information on the natural hazard risks facing South Dunedin, and we continue to invest in research in this area.  

Read more here.

This area faces multiple natural hazard threats, with future climate and landscape changes increasing the potential consequences. 

Read more here.

We have developed a biodiversity strategy to set out the outcomes we collectively want to achieve for Otago, inform our projects, and establish a framework for working together with communities and organisations.

Read more here.

In 2018, ORC joined the NZSeaRise venture, in collaboration with the research trust of Wellington’s Victoria University and GNS Science. The project objective is to improve sea level rise projections for New Zealand, to better anticipate and manage the impacts of rising sea level on low-lying cities. The project will deliver an authoritative, scientifically robust set of national sea-level rise projections to the end of the 21st century and beyond. 

South Dunedin has been selected as a regional case study as it is a low-lying, densely populated urban area likely to be impacted by sea-level rise. The case study outcome will be used to develop planning and risk assessment toolkits for planners, decision makers, iwi and our community who require technical and risk information to effectively adapt to sea-level rise. 

Our contribution to the project is to improve understanding of groundwater and to work with GNS scientists to collate information about the physical environment of South Dunedin. This will help inform a robust geological model of the area. The NZSeaRise project is due for completion in June 2022. 

ORC and Dunedin City Council are also working collaboratively to make sure the data will be shared collectively ensuring its effective use. 

We have installed a sea-level recorder at Green Island, off the coast of Dunedin. The data from this, after quality checking, is supplied by NIWA to the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level, a global data bank for long-term sea level change information from tide gauges based at the National Oceanography Centre in Liverpool, UK. 

We are supporting Waitaki District Council in their District Plan review by providing technical support. We contracted the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) to produce a report on the coastal hazards of the Waitaki District. It looks into coastal erosion and inundation, factoring in the effects of climate change and rising sea levels. 

The report can be found here. This data is also available on our Otago Natural Hazards Database.

Investigations on the potential effects of climate change on the Clutha delta are ongoing. A programme of technical work including monitoring is well underway and nearly completeThe purpose of this work is to help develop an adaptation plan in collaboration with the Clutha District Council, and to inform our next Long-term Plan and the decisions around flood protection and drainage infrastructure as part of the Lower Clutha Flood Protection and Drainage Scheme. 

The report can be found here.

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