Auckland’s climate action plan everyone’s challenge
Posted at 9:43am Monday 11 Jan, 2021
Illustration courtesy CRIMU Research and Evaluation Unit & Auckland Council
Every man, woman and child in Auckland will need to take action on climate change if the city is to reach its goal of halving emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050 (based on 1990 levels).
Auckland Council last month released a digital version of Te-Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland's Climate Plan, a blueprint on how these goals will be achieved.
The plan addresses both mitigation and adaptation measures.
Mayor Phil Goff says Council is already contributing towards climate action by developing a compact urban form, enabling an increased uptake of public transport, walking and cycling options, and planning for climate change impacts.
“My 10-year Budget proposal includes an extra $150 million to further accelerate our response through measures such as bringing forward the electrification of the bus fleet, investment to divert more waste from landfill and planting more than 11,000 street trees and 200 hectares of native forest,” he says.
Auckland's Climate Plan has eight priority areas – natural environment, built environment, transport, economy, communities and coasts, food, Te Puawaitanga o te Tatai, and energy and industry.
The eight priorities seek to integrate actions that both reduce emissions (climate change mitigation) and prepare for the impacts of climate change (climate change adaptation).
In 2016, Auckland's gross emissions were less than the previous year. The city emitted 11,326 kilo-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (kt CO2e), but this reduced to net emissions of 10,128 kt CO2e when carbon sequestration from forestry was included.
Transport and stationary energy (includes fossil fuels such as gas and coal to produce electricity) are dominant sectors, accounting for 43 per cent and 26 per cent of gross emissions, respectively. Carbon dioxide made up 83 per cent of total emissions, methane 10 per cent, nitrous oxide 1.7 per cent and other greenhouse gases 4.7 per cent.
Reduction targets vary across the eight sectors. For instance, transport is modeled to have a gross emissions reduction of 64 per cent, while agriculture has a reduction target of 15 per cent.
A proposal to plant an additional 200 hectares of native forest to offset emissions will target unproductive farming land that Council currently owns.
A Council spokesperson says the intention is not for Council to buy land for conversion to native forest to meet its goals, but rather to work with government and other landowners to identify suitable land for reforestation and understand barriers and interventions to enable this to happen.
To learn more about how Auckland's carbon emissions are calculated, see this story online at localmatters.co.nz.
Walk more, buy less
If you are wondering what single thing you can do today to reduce your carbon footprint, the answer is get out of your car.
Households contributed 71 per cent to New Zealand's total carbon footprint in 2017 and transport made up 37 per cent of that household total, according to Stats NZ.
The data shows that while the direct use of fuel by households is significant, indirect transport emissions are an increasingly significant part of the total transport carbon footprint of households. This includes the emissions that arise from the extraction, refining and transport of fuel before its use, and the use of other modes of transport such as air, water and rail.
“These findings highlight the ‘hidden' role households have in driving emissions,” environmental-economic accounts manager Stephen Oakley said.
Considering where and how you can either reduce the need to travel by, for instance, remote working and shopping locally, or using lower emission forms of transport such as public transport, walking and cycling, are simple ways of helping to reduce your emissions footprint.
However, there are also greenhouse gas emissions associated with all the goods we buy and/or the services that we use, so finding ways to consume less – through reuse, recycling and upcycling – as well as choosing low emissions goods or services when we have to buy new, are actions that can help reduce emissions.
For further information on emissions footprints and actions to reduce your carbon emissions, go to: FutureFit.nz
How are carbon emissions calculated?
Each year, Council puts together a greenhouse gas inventory for the region. The study uses the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories developed by the World Resources Institute, C40 Cities and Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI).
This inventory captures emissions generated (or consumed in the case of stationary energy) within the Auckland region from a range of sources such as transport, waste, buildings and industrial processes.
The full technical report (Auckland's greenhouse gas inventory to 2016 – Knowledge Auckland) provides further details on where data is sourced for each of the different sectors and the categorisation of sectors and emissions sources.
The inventory is peer reviewed and also publicly disclosed to the CDP as part of Council's commitment to the C40 network.
The 2016 profile is the most up-to-date inventory that Auckland has as there is a lag in the availability of some data sources such as forestry carbon sequestration data from the government.
Auckland's greenhouse gas inventory to 2018 is currently being finalised and will be released soon.