The international context
The scientific evidence is unequivocal; climate change is a grave and mounting threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet.
The International Panel on Climate Change 2022 report states people’s health, lives and livelihoods, as well as property and critical infrastructure, including energy and transportation systems, are being increasingly affected by climate change.
Impacts of international climate change policy
Increasingly tough international climate change policy affects New Zealand, and may reduce our ability to sell products and services in important economic sectors and export industries, including tourism and agriculture.
For example, there is a risk that rising climate change awareness could undermine the willingness of people overseas to buy New Zealand produce, because of:
- an increase in conscious consumerism
- awareness of water quality impacts of dairy farming
- concerns around 'food miles'.
It may also reduce the viability of New Zealand as a tourist destination.
New Zealand policy frameworks
New Zealand is a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement and has committed to reduce GHG emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. See Ministry for the Environment website.
The Climate Change Response Act (CCRA), including the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019 creates a legal framework for New Zealand to develop policies to:
- limit global average temperature increase to 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels
- prepare for and adapt to the effects of climate change.
The act also provides for a GHG emissions trading scheme in New Zealand and levies and enables New Zealand to meet its international obligations under the:
- UNFCCC at New York 1992
- Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention at Kyoto 1997
- Paris Agreement 2015.
The CCRA set two emissions targets:
- to reduce biogenic methane by 24 to 47 per cent by 2050
- to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (other than biogenic methane) to net zero by 2050.
The 2019 amendment established a Climate Change Commission.
It also set emissions reduction targets and requires the government to prepare:
- emissions budgets
- an emissions reduction plan
- a national adaptation plan.
He Pou a Rangi / the New Zealand Climate Change Commission (NZCCC) was formed in November 2019 to provide independent expert advice to the government and take decisive action to address climate change.
The NZCCC will monitor and review the government’s progress in reducing emissions and adapting to a changing climate.
In 2021 it provided a report to the government about transitioning to a low emissions environment. It also provided advice on the government’s first three emissions budgets.
In May 2022 Aotearoa New Zealand’s first emissions reduction plan was released setting out how the government will meet its emissions reduction targets by 2050.
The National Adaptation Plan was released in August 2022.
It represents a central government-led plan to enable all New Zealanders to prepare for, adapt and strengthen resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Auckland’s policy frameworks
Auckland became a member of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group in 2015, a strategic global network of over 90 cities working together to reduce GHG emissions and climate risks.
Research and analysis by the C40 Group has identified the upper limit of carbon that cities can emit if the temperature rise scenarios in the Paris Agreement are to be achieved. This 'carbon budget' was divided amongst member cities.
Auckland must dramatically increase action to reduce emissions. Our current emissions are still increasing overall, demonstrating the need for a stronger response.
We responded in 2019 by declaring a climate emergency.
We also adopted an Auckland-wide climate plan: Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri, Auckland’s Climate Plan (2020).
Auckland’s Climate Plan sets goals to:
- reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030
- achieve net zero emissions by 2050
- adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Auckland Council’s role
We are committed to reducing emissions and ensuring we are resilient to the impacts of climate change.
We will work with central government, businesses and local communities to ensure we are ready to deal with the risks, uncertainties and opportunities associated with critical climate change and energy issues.
Inventory of Auckland's GHG emissions
We monitor and report on Auckland's GHG emissions.
Our greenhouse gas emissions profile tracks progress against our emissions reduction targets.
The emissions inventory or profile shows the vast majority of Auckland's GHG emissions arise from:
- burning fossil fuels for electricity generation and for other uses like domestic heating.
New Zealand already produces about 80 per cent of its electricity from renewable resources.
We will need to maintain that percentage, at the very least, as our population grows and energy demands increase. Otherwise we will become increasingly reliant on imported fossil fuel supplies and vulnerable to increases in the cost of energy.
We introduced a Climate Action Targeted Rate in the 2022/2023 Annual Budget.
This will help to fund:
- greater access to low-carbon public transport
- well-connected walking and cycling options
- increased tree planting in parks and along streets.
These steps will support a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
We also adopted a Transport Emissions Reduction Pathway to reduce transport emissions by 64 per cent by 2030. It recognises that tackling climate change requires transformational change across all sectors.
- using sustainable transport modes for trips under 6 kilometres
- converting 30 per cent of the city’s vehicles to electric
- supporting a 10-fold increase in active transport (walking and cycling)
- supporting a 5-fold increase in the number of public transport trips.
Our infrastructure strategy describes:
- a transition to a low-carbon transport system
- coastal management plans to capture coastal inundation and manage erosion risk to our core infrastructure
- opportunities for climate-positive assets.
Our Auckland Water Strategy sets strategic shifts towards regenerative water infrastructure. It aims to achieve water security through a diverse water source portfolio.
Many other opportunities include:
- growing our urban and regional forests
- turning forest and organic residues into energy
- enhancing local food production
- exploring the potential for coastal and marine areas to trap carbon.
Adapting to a changing climate
Adapting to a changing climate requires flexibility and adaptability in all our decisions.
For example, future development of land will need to be located away from coastal and low-lying areas vulnerable to sea-level rise, flooding and coastal erosion.
The risk and opportunities map (shown below, originally published in June 2018) shows the areas of land that may be affected by sea-level rise in the future.