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 emission80% 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 rail20% of road freight to shift to rail
40% of road freight to be electric or zero emission80% 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.

Will even ATAP’s proposed Rapid Transit Network be enough?

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?

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  1. Gotta love politicians. Very easy to set broad ambitious targets. Bit light on how they aim to achieve them.

    All pixie dust and unicorns unfortunately. They don’t have the political will to make the hard decisions necessary to achieve half of the targets. If they were serious we would already have congestion charges, no metro parking etc.

    1. The political will might change as things “heat up” and they realise the legal threat of not acting is as large as the pathetic legal threats from NIMBY’s.

      1. I agree. Not addressing the climate crisis for what it is also takes “political will.” Any elected reps taking that line lost my vote years ago.

    2. That’s not fair. The Central government through the Ministry of Transport is doing a lot to reduce CO2 emissions. You need to read the MOT ‘Green Freight Project’.
      Auckland Transport and Ports of Auckland are also very active in creating solutions. AT are ensuring future bus replacements to be zero emissions, while managing existing fleets can have options to significantly lower GHG through Opex.
      Ports of Auckland Hydrogen plans are more ambitious than probably any other port in the APAC region.
      It’s easy to complain, but it’s disingenuous to ignore the people that are doing things to improve things.

  2. I don’t think it will make much difference. As long as it is cheaper and quicker to use my car, I will do so. Along with most of Auckland. The only places where this doesn’t hold true is where you live & work close to rapid transit.

    So either you make PT cheaper or faster or make car-driving more costly/slower or all of that at the same time. Except council is fairly powerless in these areas.

    Sure, council can try and change urban form through development rules for higher density, but that will take decades and only if there is money in it for developers. It’s more profitable and less risky to build McMansions. Even if you did build high rises everywhere ,that doesn’t remove the convenience of using a car.

    The biggest incentive is monetary, which council has practically no control over. They can’t toll roads, they can’t change fuel taxes, they can’t tax cars or put limits on the number of cars in the region. The only thing council can do is build roads and even then, it is only indirectly through AT.

    So basically the only workable strategy that council can take is to make cars slower and PT/Active modes faster. Except that takes a lot of political capital. Len did that for CRL, Phil hasn’t done anything. AT should only ever be building/extending the PT and active mode network. AT should not be building any more roads for cars, except for maintenance/access purposes and only as long as PT doesn’t get stuck in the traffic. It is a very simple and clear strategy, but politically it is difficult to achieve because the well-heeled mobs of old white people will come out in force and scare council back to doing nothing.

    So instead we get these waffle documents full of aspirations with very little in the way of making real change.

    1. “As long as it is cheaper and quicker to use my car”
      I doubt it’s really cheaper for most people to use their automobiles. When you add up registration and (proper) maintenance and parking costs; automobiles add-up to one of the biggest common money drains.

      And even if automobile transit’s quicker (Auckland can have dreadful traffic issues), there are still other advantages with using Public Transport.

      1. I can make money to pay for those things. I can’t make back the time I’d lose if I used public transport to get to and from work (as things stand). This is the trade-off most people are actually making when choosing to use a car.

      2. A lot of car costs are fixed costs like registration and insurance. Depreciation occurs if you use it or not. The real savings would kick in when you can dispense with a car entirely. That means you have to be able to get everywhere you need to go for work and play quickly, conveniently, and cost effectively on only other modes of transport. Then PT doesn’t have much utility beyond transporting individuals. when you are talking about one individual PT can be a cheaper way to travel but when a car is two or more up it becomes cheaper. This is one way PT isn’t very family friendly even when it is accessible. Expecting those with limited mobility to walk long distances at either end of a trip to access services they need makes it not very aged friendly also. I would bitterly oppose forced change by degrading how people currently live, this is especially painful where alternatives aren’t available. Creating better alternatives is a much kinder approach. The vast improvements in the train service over the years has resulted in significant organic growth in patronage.

        1. It makes a lot of sense when you consider a family or a household, in particular the second, third or fourth car in that household.

          You don’t have to be able to get everywhere you would every need to go for it to be useful, you have to be able to get to to useful places for it to be useful.

        2. Agree Riccardo, we got rid of our second car a few years ago. PT gets me to work easily, the occasional time we need to go different places on the weekend, PT either works or one of us just gets an uber.

    2. Make PT faster and that’s where driverless light metro comes in, not a streetcar plodding up Dominion Road.

      1. It’s faster if you live near a station in Mangere. It’s slower if you live near where a streetcar station would have been on Dominion Rd but without a metro station.

        It’s a very expensive trade-off to make someone’s journey faster and someone’s slower.

      2. It’s only faster if you have fewer stations. You can have fewer stations and skip people with any mode.

    3. As per my comments below, maybe the government needs to build much more housing so FHBs can afford and choose centrally located apartments.
      Rather than the common, naive expectation that developers can, and will, build more moderately priced apartments, if only the plannjng rules ‘let’ them…

    4. I was in Singapore for a week last year, at a conference on transport.
      Despite having a pretty fantastic underground system, that seems to be ever expanding and frequent modern busses With aircon, people still use cars.
      It beggars belief, because cars are taxed heavily there. A Toyota costs what a Porache would anywhere else. They also have a very expensive tax have the right to own a car (it trades and the price can be between $50-100k for 10 years) and they have congestion charging.
      Taxis are ridiculously cheap and there are plenty of cycle ways.
      Still, on top of all that, the roads were clogged every day with people driving short distances to work. There are apparently 600,000 private cars on that small island.
      If a country like Singapore with its diet North Korea politics cannot induce PT, what hope does Auckland have?

      1. Is it more that there it’s a case of a very small percentage of the very dense large population that is wealthy and will want to drive almost no matter the cost.

      2. Still, 600,000 cars amongst 5.85 million people is different from 4 million cars amongst 5 million people. Singapore is also richer with greater inequality than NZ. So maybe the charges have had some effect.

    5. Well put Ari. There is one item that is within the AT scope that could make a significant difference and that is the cost of using their parking facilities. Both on street and the parking buildings could drastically in crease their charges and make public transport a more affordable alternative. It’s fully within their control and revenue from it could be used to increase the PT available as an alternative to the individual ICE vehicle. Do it now.
      At the same time reduce on street parking to facilitate active modes

  3. I wouldn’t be so sure that Auckland’s growth rate will continue for the next 5 years with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
    As for improving PT; the CRL will cause increases in rail patronage. The busways will also have a positive effect. I’m sure that continual investment over 2 decades will give Auckland a system that is at least sufficient.

    1. I think you missed the point about Climate Action. A sufficient network will not be enough we need a massive reduction in VKT if we are going to halve emissions by 2030

      1. I think you missed the point. The goal isn’t to halve emissions by 2030, the goal is to have a plan that says we will halve emissions by 2030. they can put a tick in that box now and move on to another brochure- I mean ‘plan’.

        1. I hope you missed the point. 🙂 But I’m not so sure.

          The Climate Plan isn’t supposed to be a corporate greenwash document. It has been adopted by our representatives and needs to provide for our needs and the needs of the future generations and our area’s ecology. Where it is greenwash we need to call it out.

          So we should discuss our goals, and one of them is to cut our emissions to be in line with 1.5 degrees.

          Which, incidentally, requires a drop of more than half by 2030. The drop they’ve agreed to doesn’t meet our obligations in a number of ways.

          However, it is a start. And at least there are some targets.

          You can’t plan on road expansion when the goals is to reduce vkt, for example. Or rather, you have to sound even more foolish, if you do.

  4. The targets for cycling is too high while walking to low. Walking is a much easier and flexible mode as it doesn’t have the necessity for parking and security at both ends of your journey. Also if your plans change or you get tired you can switch to a bus or train. Its much more tolerant of personal fitness and age plus the vagaries of wind and rain plus hill and dales. A wheelie trolley or back pack allows you to carry your possessions with you and will convey your shopping home. And best of all its good for you.
    Council needs to continue its work on establishing the shortcuts which can shorten your journey which of coarse includes pedestrian crossing, bridges under tunnels and green wave pedestrian crossings. It also needs to cater for disabilities but given that self propelled wheel chairs are available I am not sure that every walking facility should be required to provide for them as long as there is alternative access.
    This just means rough tracks can be quickly added to the walking network particularly in the less developed parts of our city. Not every walking facility needs to have concrete pathways and lifts and ramps.

    1. “Not every walking facility needs to have concrete pathways and lifts and ramps.”

      Neither does every cycling facility. Here’s my three-point plan for >>10% cycling.

      1. 30 k speed limits on all side streets.
      2. Mark off a cycle lane on major arterials and add safe hit barriers or planters.
      3. Add cycle rails up the side of steps at all train stations.
      4. OK, four-point plan. Add secure bike parking on the station platforms in line of sight of the CCTV.

      Less than the cost of SkyPath and done in half the time.

      1. 5. Low traffic neighbourhoods.

        Every last barrier to these as a central pillar of transport planning has been removed this year with the number of case studies greatly increased due to Covid.

        6. Reconfigure the approaches on station land to prioritise safe cycling and walking.

      2. You want to limit the speed for all those using electric assisted bikes or the weekend warriors on their group rides, both groups will easily travel faster than 30kph. If you limit the speed for electric bikes users then any benefit for using them goes out the window.

        1. There would still be significant benefit to most cyclists being able to consistently ride at 30kmh. I might be doing 30 with a bit of downhill but I’m usually a bit slower on the flat and definitely slower uphill!

          As for weekend warriors I agree it’s a bigger impact but I don’t think just letting cars do 50kmh on side streets just so this group isn’t impacted is a great option.

        2. “Give every bus stop a shelter, that’ll make the bus more attractive.”

          What is the evidence for this? Vienna with nearly 40% PT mode share has numerous stops where the bus/tram stop is just a sign by the road.

        3. So what if weekend warriors or e-bike users are doing more than 30km/h? They can just slow down on side streets.

  5. “Greenfield developments have typically had a negative impact on emissions due to them resulting in more car-dependent and carbon-intensive travel patterns”

    Looking at the original development plans for Huapai, they envisioned high density living around the railway station, and developers with TOD plans came along. Then AT killed off the rail development plan, the TOD developers walked away, and low density suburban development that requires car dependency is what actually unfolded. Now Huapai has the worst arterial traffic congestion in Auckland.

    Greater Auckland supported and continues to support this outcome.

    1. Same at Takanini. There was to be a new station at Walters Road with medium density developments surrounding it like a poached egg. Then ARTA/Kiwirail decided the trains wouldn’t get up to enough speed or some nonsense, after the land was rezoned so it morphed into car based housing.

        1. They had planned to grade separate at Glen Ora Rd and close Walters. But the reasons they gave for killing the station off at the time was that the train wouldn’t have reached full speed yet. It turns out the purpose of the rail system is to allow them to efficiently drive trains up and down the line. It has nothing to do with carrying passengers.

  6. So how does Auckland airport’s plan to double passenger numbers by 2040 fit with the decarbonisation plan?

    1. If an elected representative concerned about climate change was to ask you what biggie they’ve forgotten and you said aviation…

      Their reply would identify whether you’re speaking with a leader or a sheep.

        1. This is a good reason why we need to do more than other countries.. long haul carbon neutral aviation (and shipping) is decades away. Meanwhile what we can do is ramp down our domestic GHG emissions, not least by using what will soon be near 100% renewable electricity to electrify cars, buses, trains and trucks.

  7. The Council only has direct control over 1 target – the bus fleet.

    For all the others, the Council has almost zero control over achieving any of the targets. The only ones it can semi influence are those related to land use – e.g. increase in walk trips. That said the NPS on urban development pretty much takes control of that away as well.

    To achieve these targets requires policy at the national level.

    1. Yeah. See my point below. They could have had much more influence if they did the AUP differently.
      Now it’s about rectifying that stuff up. One of the key ways for this to be done is for the government to build and sell ( at cost) housing in central urban locations. If first home buyers can buy 3 bedroom apartments for 650k, they might reconsider buying a 3 bedroom townhouse on Auckland’s outskirts for 750-800k…

    2. You have omitted Parking which would have a fairly significant impact on individual ICE vehicles. Removing on street parking to facilitate active modes and ramping up parking costs in AT parking buildings would have a marked affect on ICE viability.

  8. Public transport mode share to increase from 7.8% to 24.5%
    Cycling modes share to increase from 0.9% to 7%

    hahahhahahahahah jokers!
    The only realistic goal that may happen is the walking part. If you think about what they’re doing towards improving cycling and PT these goals are just laughable. It’s effectively treating public like idiots. So I guess nothing new…. The only hope is change. In my opinion realistic targets for 2030 PT with the current attitude is 10% and cycling 2%. Would be interesting to see how they got to their numbers. I would understand those if they would actively keep changing the city with many big projects happening. Otherwise those numbers are just from outer space.

  9. Monday was a post about supercharging development.
    Tuesday was a post about climate change.
    Seems to be a couple of topics at odds with each other.

    1. Why?

      People need places to live, if we can build denser, walk-able neighbourhoods with Rapid Transport connections then it’s easy to tie the 2 together by reducing Transport Emissions which make up a significant portion of our overall emissions . Of course you already know all this, you’re just doing a bit of Wednesday morning trolling.

      1. Ah. You want to keep fillings the place up with people. Still stuck in a BAU.
        You can’t built your way out of climate change Joe.

        1. But you do need to house people, whether you like it or not.

          And building density is far more efficient in terms of all greenhouse gas generation than any other form of development. This all ties together, they’re tightly linked and intertwined.

  10. Ok here’s my prediction for what will happen by 2030:

    – AT will fail to build any further physically separated cycle ways in the isthmus
    – Cycling will not go above 1.5% mode share
    – PT will continue to cost more than driving a car (if you have two people in your household working near to each other)
    – PT will not go above 10% mode share

    Of course, they could prove me wrong and build a separated cycleway along ANY of the main north-south roads in the isthmus (e.g. Dominion Rd, Mt Eden Rd, Sandringham Rd, Manukau Rd).

    Or they could prove me wrong by introducing monthly/annual PT passes (or caps) which are cost effective and encourage commuters who use PT to also use PT for non-commuting trips.

  11. I wonder how they measure the 8 percent shift of freight to rail from road and how much is carried by rail now. Looks like they haven’t measured it does it. As far as I know the only freight that begins and finishes its journey in Auckland is containers from the Port to Wuri and possibly from Southdown and Otahuhu to the Port. Even then the freight which was in the container or maybe the container plus the freight is conveyed to final destination on road.
    Of course any freight which was previously carried by road which is carried by rail in the future no matter what its destination was would qualify. But if you can’t measure it and it becomes a bit wooly.

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