Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan reached a milestone with today’s unanimous adoption of the plan’s text by the council’s Environment and Climate Change Committee.
Councillor Richard Hills, chair of the committee, celebrated the adoption as the council can now ramp up planning for implementation and develop a package of work for consideration in the 10-year budget 2021-2031.
“It’s been just over a year since our young people marched up Queen Street calling on us to act. We’ve answered the call with a plan that both reduces Auckland’s emissions and adapts to our changing environment.”
“The plan is larger than just the council, as it needs to be. Just as we’ve united in fighting of COVID-19, we will need individuals, communities, businesses, and government to work together. This is our plan, it will grow with us in the years to come.”
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the adoption of the Climate Action Plan.
“COVID-19 is, for good reason, currently preoccupying us as we strive to protect our city and country from community transmission and keep our people safe.
“However, we cannot ignore the ongoing threat posed by climate change environmentally and economically, with more extreme weather conditions, rising sea levels and other impacts.”
“That’s why our Climate Action Plan is so important. We have strived to keep intact provisions that will reduce the council’s own carbon emissions by 20 per cent as a starting point. We are committed to working with government, our community, iwi, and business to ensure we all take effective action to reduce our emissions and to adapt to the changes which are already occurring,” Phil Goff said.
Councillor Richard Hills agrees.
“I fully expect the significantly constrained fiscal environment we are now working under to continue into the first few years of the upcoming new 10-year Budget,” explains Councillor Hills.
“Implementation of the plan will, of course, be influenced by the impacts of COVID-19, and by the constraints of our current economic situation. However, given the strategic importance of reducing emissions and preparing for the impacts of climate change, and the risks and costs associated with failing to act, climate action remains a priority for the council. As a region, we need to increase the delivery of climate action.”
Councillor Hills stresses that if we are to meet climate goals, all actions within the plan will need to be implemented. But he notes that the council will need to prioritise actions, particularly through the Emergency Budget and the first few years of the 10-year Budget.
“Our current emphasis is what can be achieved within existing budgets, as well as identifying the top priorities for council investment in our adaptation work, which is about preparing for the impacts of climate change, and our mitigation work, reducing emissions,” says Councillor Hills.
We need to do this together
The council will continue to partner with mana whenua to ensure mātauranga Māori underpins the climate response, and Councillor Hills stresses that ongoing collaboration with Aucklanders throughout Tāmaki Makaurau must continue as the plan is finalised and implemented.
“No single person or group can deliver the changes needed,” says Councillor Hills.
“This plan sets the pathway for the changes we need to make to achieve a net zero carbon, resilient future, but the major shifts that are needed will only be possible when we are united in a common purpose.
"We will only be able to deliver on this plan, and our regional climate commitments, through individual and collective action, and firm partnerships. Meeting our climate goals will require ambitious action from us all.”
Role of Auckland Council
The council has taken a leadership role in facilitating development of this plan and has specific roles and responsibilities associated with the plan’s implementation. Alec Tang, the council’s Acting Chief Sustainability Officer, says that the council has three primary roles relating to implementing the plan - direct control, levers, and advocacy.
"There are things the council has direct control of,” says Mr Tang.
“Like where the council can lead by example through delivery of services, infrastructure and facilities. Then there are levers, actions where the council has a role in planning, monitoring, regulation and research. And then there’s advocacy, in many areas the council will have a key role in advocating and influencing change, especially to central government.”
The following table provides examples of work the council is proposing to undertake as a result of the adoption of Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan.
Council role – direct control
Council role - levers
Council role - advocacy
Changing how we work to enable more remote and flexible working by our staff.
Decarbonising our operational vehicle fleet.
Working to procure only electric buses from 2025.
Advancing local renewable energy generation from our community assets like swimming pools and libraries.
Leading the reform of parking policy.
Planting 1.5 million trees over the next three years.
Reviewing the Auckland Unitary Plan from a climate perspective to inform updates and plan changes.
Assessing the exposure of our transport network assets to hazards.
Leveraging our procurement activities to reduce emissions and climate risks through our supply chains.
Undertaking climate change risk assessments for the region and sharing these insights with communities, business and central government.
Communicating with Aucklanders on climate change and climate action.
Advocating to central government on key climate priorities, such as:
Accelerating the transition to a lower emissions vehicle fleet.
Reforming land transport pricing and funding, incorporating impactful emissions settings.
Ensuring the Emissions Trading Scheme provides the right incentives for businesses to transition to lower carbon operations.
Supporting and driving the delivery of major building retrofit schemes to reduce emissions, improve the health of Aucklanders and create green jobs.
Progressively updating the Building Code to require buildings to operate at net zero by 2030.
The plan’s text will now be digitised, with completion and public launch of the full digital plan proposed for later this year.
Work is now also underway to establish detailed and costed actions for the council as its contribution to climate action. This work will be put forward for consideration as input to the 10-year Budget that Aucklanders will be asked to provide feedback on in February/March 2021.