Yesterday wrote about the new National Policy Statement on Urban Development, one of two important events last week that mean the council is going to drastically rework its Unitary Plan. Today I’ll cover the second one, the council’s unanimous adoption of Auckland’s Climate Plan (ACP) – although this requires more than just a change to our planning rules.
The ACP establishes two core climate drivers:
- Reducing our emissions: This sets the goal of halving our emissions by 2030 and to reach net zero by 2050
- Adapting to climate change: Looks at what climate change is likely to mean for the region and our approach to addressing the impacts
Transport is the single biggest contributor to emissions in Auckland, accounting for nearly 44% of all emissions in the region. Of this, about 86% of emissions comes from road transport, mostly cars and light commercial vehicles, with the remainder a mix of trains, boats and planes.
Transport also one of the biggest opportunities for reducing our emissions and the council are looking for a 64% decrease in gross transport emissions as part of it’s goal of halving emissions by 2030 – this of course happening at the same time as Auckland continues to grow and Aucklanders travel more. On transport, the ACP says:
We need to make fundamental shifts to how we undertake our personal travel, how this travel is powered, how we transport freight, and how much we travel.
Below are targets for transport to achieve the goals mentioned.
|Vehicle Kilometres travelled by private vehicles reduced by 12% as a result of avoided motorised vehicle travel, through actions such as remote working and reduced trip lengths|
|Public transport mode share to increase from 7.8% to 24.5%||Public transport mode share to increase from 7.8% to 35%|
|Cycling modes share to increase from 0.9% to 7%||Cycling modes share to increase from 0.9% to 9%|
|Walking mode share to increase from 4.1% to 6%||Walking mode share to increase from 4.1% to 6%|
|100% of Auckland’s bus fleet to be zero emission|
|40% of passenger and light commercial vehicles to be electric or zero emission||80% of passenger and light commercial vehicles to be electric or zero emission|
|18% increase in fuel efficiency of the light vehicle fleet (internal combustion engine)||25% increase in fuel efficiency of the light vehicle fleet (internal combustion engine)|
|8% of road freight to shift to rail||20% of road freight to shift to rail|
|40% of road freight to be electric or zero emission||80% of road freight to be electric or zero emission|
|15% increase in fuel efficiency of the freight vehicle fleet (internal combustion engine)||25% increase in fuel efficiency of the freight vehicle fleet (internal combustion engine)|
It’s good to finally see some actual targets out of council. In many documents, such as the 30-year Auckland Plan, they removed targets in seeming bid to not be able to be held accountable for not achieving anything.
The targets call for a big shift in non-car mode share with half of all trips being so by 2050 – this change is shown below.
The PT target means we would need to at least triple PT use in a decade and that can only be achieved if we were to vastly improve our PT offering. This includes (but not limited to) better infrastructure, more and faster services, providing a better and a more consistent user experience. We also need to look at options such road pricing and better management of parking.
Auckland Transport are also going to really need to start delivering on the regional cycling network with one of the actions in the transport section:
Action T3. Rapidly increase access to bicycles, micro-mobility devices and the safe, connected, and dedicated infrastructure that supports their use.
But just providing better infrastructure and services isn’t going to be enough and as the saying goes, the best transport plan is a good land-use plan. This is where the need to change the Unitary Plan comes in.
The Unitary Plan zoned around 15,000 hectares of rural land for future urbanisation over 30 years which is expected to cater for about 130,000 homes and about 76,000 jobs – about a third of the total growth planned over that timeframe. The Council, Auckland Transport and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency are currently busy working out where to put the transport infrastructure that’s needed, in a programme called Supporting Growth.
Greenfield developments have typically had a negative impact on emissions due to them resulting in more car-dependent and carbon-intensive travel patterns. This is because in many places there remains very few viable alternatives to driving, even for short local trips thanks poorly designed street networks. The Supporting Growth team talks a lot about making these new greenfield growth areas sustainable and making public transport a viable choice. But even if they managed to achieve a 50% non-car mode share, that’s still a lot more people driving and contributing to congestion on our roads.
There is also the not insignificant issue of cost. These networks are incredibly expensive to provide with the high-level networks for all areas expected to cost upwards of $10 billion. The council themselves have recently had taste of what’s in store. Following the government’s decision to build the full $1.3 billion Mill Rd corridor, some of which is a decade or more ahead of when it was planned, the council suddenly need to find their share of about $700 million to fund all the local roads needed that connect to it to enable the growth to occur. A case of roads begets more roads. This issue has become even more important in recent times with the council having severe funding constraints due to the impact of COVID-19.
By contrast, redeveloping our existing urban area has many benefits as locations are usually already closer to jobs and existing amenities while improvements to public and active mode transport infrastructure and services benefits not only those new residents but all the existing ones too.
The ACP suggests a target of 40% of new dwellings to be in transit-oriented developments by 2030 and 65% by 2050.
It also contains a number of specific actions related to the built environment. A few of these are:
Action B1. Ensure our approach to planning and growth aligns with low carbon, resilient outcomes
- Review provisions in the Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP) from a climate and natural hazards perspective and use this to inform the statutory review of the AUP and future plan changes.
- Ensure growth modelling assesses the impacts of different growth scenarios on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
- Maintain and uphold a quality and compact urban form approach as outlined in the Auckland Development Strategy.
Action B2. Ensure new infrastructure is planned and designed to minimise climate risks.
- Assess climate change impacts for all new developments and infrastructure, starting at the business case stage, to identify to what degree a proposal supports or conflicts with our climate goals over its lifecycle.
With the new National Policy Statement on Urban Development requiring significantly more development to occur within the existing urban area, now is the time for the council to reconsider and reduce how much greenfield land we allow for development.
As with so many plans from the council family, the ACP sounds good but can or will they actually deliver on it?