Good progress on the Auckland Climate Plan: the Auckland Forecasting Centre and Auckland Transport are exploring how to change our transport system to achieve the necessary drop in emissions by 2030.

We had a first glimpse of their thinking at last week’s Business and Climate Change conference in Auckland.

David Parker, Minister for the Environment, was present. He voiced a common misconception:

as a country we’ve reached the conclusion that decarbonisation of our light vehicle fleet is going to be the biggest opportunity to reduce emissions in the energy sector in the next few years.

Decarbonisation of transport, yes. The vehicle fleet itself? It is important, but it is not the biggest opportunity.

Last month, Smart Growth America released a report called Driving Down Emissions, a well-evidenced report that explains how to decarbonise transport:

Cleaner and electric vehicles are essential to reducing emissions, but only addressing vehicles is insufficient and foolish…

Despite an aggressive effort to promote electric vehicle adoption, and higher fuel efficiency standards, multiple states have determined that they will not be able to reach ambitious climate targets through vehicle electrification alone. Modeling consistently shows that rapid emissions reductions depend on taking fewer, shorter car trips and shifting trips from cars to transit, walking, and biking

By reducing driving, we also improve outcomes for safety, public health, access and – as shown here – the environment:

Credit: Smart Growth America

Shane Ellison, CEO of Auckland Transport, is clear about the scale of the challenge. He listed the gains made over the last ten years, and added:

In spite of all that, we’ve had an 11% increase in ghg emissions from the transport network in Auckland… Doing what we’ve always done ain’t going to touch the sides in terms of delivering…

It means we have to do something completely different…

The conversation has taken a leap forward. It is wonderful that Ellison is going to lead the enormous change that needs to happen.

But doing “something completely different” requires looking beyond the policies, advisors and mindsets we’re following currently. Many created our problems in the first place. Ellison continued:

The Auckland Forecasting Centre, which was set up as “the one source of truth” for government agencies – which includes Waka Kotahi, Auckland Council, Auckland Transport – put a whole lot of options into the model and said, ‘What are the things that are going to make a difference?’

As I understand it, when giving input to the Auckland Development Strategy a few years ago, the Auckland Forecasting Centre never modelled a genuinely compact Auckland, involving no further development on farmland. Presumably they weren’t directed to do so.

But that needs to change now. As the US study says:

while we have no idea how to completely electrify our fleet of vehicles or how long that transition will take, we can absolutely lower emissions in a short time-frame by meeting the demand for more housing in smart locations

Was Ellison indicating he feels constrained when he referred to “the one source of truth”. The subject is too important for the Auckland Forecasting Centre not to publish the assumptions and model details on their website, so we can all critique it.

This matters, because changing our urban form is an important lever, and from Ellison’s next comment, it appears the “model” still isn’t set up to acknowledge this:

The evidence is telling us that … take the Auckland Development Strategy. A lot of the consents that are happening – about 89% of them – are in brownfields areas.  Which is a huge change in Auckland’s actual development, and is why… spatial planning and the like with transport isn’t actually a huge, huge lever to pull over the next ten years.

Was our development actually happening in the right places, this would be right. But it’s not.

Perhaps Ellison was meaning 89% are within the rural urban boundary? For clarification, much of this development is greenfields.

As you can see in this map by Timmy of last year’s consents, there are many more than 11% of the consents for Auckland in the greenfields areas of Flat Bush, Pukekohe, Albany, Huapai, Kumeu, Whenuapai, Beachlands and Hobsonville, for example. Most of these locations do not have good public or active transport connections to the rest of the city. These new households will have high average transport emissions from driving:

Credit: Timmy, via Twitter

Spatial planning therefore remains a powerful lever for reducing our emissions. The US report said:

The built environment can, in fact, change rapidly. Many communities and states have demonstrated that comprehensive reforms can both reduce the need for driving, and improve overall quality-of-life. They have responded to public demands and market forces pushing for denser development and walkability. The emissions reductions that accompany these transformations are a welcomed co-benefit of this shift.

With Auckland’s expected population growth, we have a bigger opportunity than most cities to harness this. Creating “clustered developments” within our existing urban area gives the benefit of proximity to both the new and the existing residents, slashing their need to drive:

Credit: Smart Growth America

But here is Auckland Transport’s thinking on the subject at the moment:

Those big bubbles are important, but they are not the biggest policy levers.

And tiny bubbles have been used to represent the following levers, which actually represent large emissions reductions possibilities:

  • a more compact city,
  • improved walking and cycling facilities
  • PT service improvements

The solutions presented here simply support the political economy of car dependence. They stem from the same bias that created our sprawl and our safety crisis. This breaks my heart. We have the key agency’s CEO, Shane Ellison, stepping up as champion of decarbonisation. He deserves better information than this.

Indicating the biggest bubbles, he said:

the big things up there that you will see can make the difference are big policy levers. They are around accelerating the transition to EV’s… if you look to have around half the fleet transitioned by 2040 you can get a 14% reduction by 2030 in terms of ghg emissions.

EV’s are important, but let’s look at the cost. Assuming $50,000 per vehicle, replacing all of the 1.5 million cars Auckland is projected to have by 2030 would cost $75 billion. Whether we attempt to replace all or half or some of these cars – and by 2030 or 2040 – it’s still a lot of money.

We won’t avoid all of this cost, but the bulk of it can be avoided with good planning.

By reducing the need to drive or own cars, the number of new vehicles we must buy is made as small as possible. (Noting that infrequently used cars are not worth replacing with EV’s, as the embedded carbon makes the swap a poor choice.)

Credit: Smart Growth America

E-bikes give far better emissions reductions per dollar. The research shows e-bikes replaced around 24% of trips previously taken by car. They also replaced 33% of trips previously taken by transit, which frees up space on public transport for other users, meaning the investment in public transport goes further, too. Why didn’t e-bikes have their own bubble?

So while subsidies for EV’s are definitely a piece of the puzzle – for volunteer health shuttle drivers, disability mobility services, rural people with low incomes, etc – our biggest opportunities lie in taking a different approach. As the US report said:

solutions that revolve around everyone in America buying a new car fail to account for the millions who don’t drive or cannot afford an expensive, brand new electric vehicle. Put another way, if today you can’t safely cross your streets, if you can’t easily reach what you need quickly and easily, if you depend on transit service that’s spotty or inconvenient, if you can’t afford to buy a vehicle, if you are already paying more than 50 percent of your income on housing plus transportation, then merely swapping your gas cars for electric vehicles won’t improve your life.

Ellison continued:

Road pricing is a big issue. It’s not politically popular, but we’re going to have to go there.

We’re going to start having those conversations… And more than just the Congestion Pricing Model that’s been worked on by government agencies. The sort of numbers you’re talking about there are around 67, 68 cents / km in terms of trips for private vehicles. FED and RUC are going to have to go up to actually accommodate the actual cost of carbon.

Clearly, if more externalities of driving are charged to the people driving, there’s an incentive to shift to a less polluting way of travelling. Road pricing, FED and RUC are an important piece of the puzzle.

But to ensure these pricing levers don’t just work to create equity problems too, the other levers for significant emissions reductions – safety, cycling, public transport, modeshift and land use changes – become even more important. Ellison downplayed their contribution:

Some of the things that people think are going to make the big difference are all important for a lot of reasons but are not going to shift the dial a long, long way.

Unwittingly, by being informed by a poorly-evidenced model, Ellison is taking a big political risk of derailing the whole decarbonisation process. Why pit equity and safety advocates against climate advocates when the best solution is a win for all? We don’t have time for the delay to action that this stance will provoke.

The US report says:

Fairness demands that we find a way to transition to a lower-carbon transportation network without leaning on a solution that just leaves more people behind. This report shows how—combined with electrification—we can reach our targets while building a more just and equitable society.

Credit: Smart Growth America

Auckland Transport is demanding huge policy levers from Government. Good. Auckland Transport also need to get some basic things right.

“CAUTION Route is unsuitable for pushchairs, wheelchairs, walkers, mobility scooters, cargo & long tail bikes, trailers & less-confident riders. Please merge with general lane & share with the trucks. Good luck staying alive” Credit: Sam Hood, via twitter

For example, evidence shows low traffic neighbourhoods reduce car ownership by 20%, and traffic by 15%. Implemented across the entire city the reductions would be even greater, due to the network effect. That’s something AT could roll out in just a few years. Where is the bubble for this?

As another example, where is the bubble for road reallocation? Auckland Transport need to stop advocating for building roads. They need to think about roading as an asset which will cost us dearly to maintain, or will become stranded. As Rod Carr, Chair of the Climate Commission, said at the conference:

Assets will be stranded. Not all losses will be compensated.

We know from the International Transport Forum that a city’s modeshare and transport emissions are a product of planning, and:

there are no cases where all the available policy instruments have been implemented in a consistent way.

Auckland can be that city that does it all.

Credit: International Transport Forum

When I started writing about decarbonising transport 20 months ago, we didn’t have political support for the kind of reduction in transport emissions needed. Let’s celebrate that things have moved so quickly. It’s great that Ellison is stepping up to the challenge. But we also need to help Auckland Transport find the quick exit from their current doomed pathway of trying to accommodate extra vehicle movements.

They need better advice from the Auckland Forecasting Centre, and support from Auckland Council and Government to:

With new thinking, huge road and budget reallocation, and a halt to sprawl, there is nothing limiting Auckland from achieving a world class mix of modes by 2030.

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  1. Just waiting for EVs to replace the current fleet is not only way too slow for emissions, but also simply results in us “electrifying congestion”, and, we can add: “electrifying traffic violence”.

    Shouldn’t we be aiming to solve all out transport problems, not forgetting about all others when pursuing one?

    Explicit and implicit policy of traffic reduction address every major transport problem; needs to be championed at every level and from every sector.

      1. So what?

        Double Cab utes and high end SUVs are often even more expensive – but people (Aucklanders in particular) still buy these in droves despite their higher costs.

        These types of Fossil fuelled vehicles consistently top the new vehicle (and imported vehicle) sales charts and have done for years.

        So price on its own is not as big a barrier.

  2. Spatial planning gave us Pokeno. The ARC wouldn’t allow housing at Drury so the developers went outside the ARC jurisdiction. Blame the planners who thought policy works. Blame the planners who thought policy was a lever they could pull.

    1. Blame the planners who pulled the wrong levers. Policy also gave us 40,000 city centre residents in 20 years. We just need to do similar things for all of the inner ring suburbs and rapid transit stations.

      1. What zone it all for years for offices that are not needed to blight it all and then reluctantly allow it to be used for other things? Then stand back and watch the market work? Yeah that might work but you will end up with a lot of dead areas for a long time until it occurs.

        1. We’ve already done the years of zoning for things that aren’t needed (stand alone houses on large sections), leading to it all being blighted and we have had decades with dead areas. Now is the time to reluctantly allow denser housing.

        2. Last time I looked it wasn’t planners and policy that caused that issue. It was the politicians who gave people what they asked for. Using policy as a lever for social change isn’t going to work. It can only result in a backlash. But hey try your luck. Auckland might be different.

        3. “Using policy as a lever for social change isn’t going to work. It can only result in a backlash. But hey try your luck. Auckland might be different.”

          I completely agree. That’s why i think we should stop using policy to force sprawl by allowing brownfields development.

        4. Where exactly is the limit on brownfields? Take a good look at the Auckland Unitary Plan. There is already THAB zonings around practically every station. There is huge scope for intensification near centres, but you do have to mitigate your effects.
          The real constraint on development of brownfields areas is the high cost of actually building. Apartments are not a cheap way to house people unless you make them very small.

        5. Yes I am with you on Freemans Bay but it is a stretch to call any of that brownfields. Take a walk sometime and you will see it is all currently in use. My view is that the one part of planning that works reasonably well is indicating a future zone to give people a chance to change their expectations. A Future Intensification Zone FIZ would work well in these areas. Simply jumping from a heritage area to a free for all will probably fail.

        6. Well if you look at areas this close to the centre of other cities of more than a million, you’ll find that the density of Freemans Bay is closer to 0 than to what you see over there. Maybe it sort of counts as a greenfield.

        7. Miffy you hit the nail.on the head. Zoning isn’t generally a big constraint in Auckland, construction costs are. Almost no one on this website seems to understand this. Only be government embarking on a massive apartment building program can this be resolved.

        8. My bad, I was under the impression that brownfields was “in service” land in general, not just previous industrial sites. My mistake.
          Why do you think a free for all would go poorly? So long as it’s sites close to the city transport shouldn’t be that much of an issue.

        9. Jack, have a look at the Auckland Plan 2050’s diagram “Distribution of Auckland’s Dwelling Growth” which I put in Taking the Sprawl out of Auckland’s Transport Plans.

          Council classify everything inside the 2010 MUL as “Greenfields and Brownfields”. So there’s no third term to consider.

          Wikipedia says:
          – Greenfield land is undeveloped land in a city or rural area either used for agriculture or landscape design, or left to evolve naturally.
          – Brownfield land is any previously developed land that is not currently in use that may be potentially contaminated.

          Using these definitions, and limited to the two terms, I believe it is correct to use the term brownfields to include the built areas of existing suburbs like Freemans Bay, or any “in-service” land. I would use greenfields for a park.

        10. “Where exactly is the limit on brownfields? ”

          Generally about 12m above the ground all over Auckland.

  3. “ EV’s are important, but let’s look at the cost. Assuming $50,000 per vehicle, replacing all of the 1.5 million cars Auckland is projected to have by 2030 would cost $75 billion. Whether we attempt to replace all or half or some of these cars – and by 2030 or 2040 – it’s still a lot of money.”
    Except that people replace cars all the time and the lifespan of a car is typically about 20 years maximum (not counting things like off-roading 4WDs etc). Average age is around 12 years so the average vehicle in Auckland is going to be replaced in the next 8 years. EVs are coming down in pricing, increasing in both models and range and also availability.
    Another point about EVs is that NZ is fairly uniquely placed to gain the benefits from them in that our electricity is mostly renewable (and by 2030 could be 100% if Lake Onslow goes ahead) so we don’t have to deduct those emissions from the reductions EVs make.
    Now to get on with finishing electrification of the NIMT and to Tauranga would be great!

    1. The cost of vehicles has been a huge burden on our population. Our current transport system may feel comfortable because it’s what we know, but it’s very expensive. We have a chance to change this.

      Climate change requires a change to our system in some way. Our response can either make the transport system more expensive for the city overall, and less equitable, or we can harness the opportunity to make it healthy, cheaper and more equitable.

      The only reason we’d choose the former is ignorance or car dependent thinking.

        1. This is not true, some areas are vastly worse than others in terms of PT. Eastern Auckland, and the Northwest are real bad. North shore near the busway is great for example.

      1. Agree cost of vehicles is a huge burden (as is the housing costs of those stand alone in sprawl suburbs that necessitate having 1, 2 or more cars per household as well as an school zoning and wonky “decile” system that entrench incorrect perceptions about education and effectively actively encourages parents who can afford to, to drive/send their kids every day to schools way out of their local schools zone).

        However, that $75B cost to replace all current Auckland fleet with EVs.
        Is a cost that those who buy the cars carry. Not Auckland ratepayers.
        As EVs are not (yet) directly subsidised.

        [We bear the “hidden” costs of provided the roads and other costs to ensure that they can do this, but that same thing happens whether the vehicle is Fossil fuelled or electrically powered].

        Yet try and convince those same people who buy all the cars to collectively shell out even a tiny fraction of that $75B Flip-the-Fleet-to-EVs cost on improving Auckland – to avoid the need to own any vehicle (or drive as much) and hear the screams of outrage.

        So the problem is not the cost of EVs – they are symptoms not the cause.

        The wider issue is a broken funding system and funding allocation models that simply prioritises the wrong things at the wrong times.

        To fix the city you first need to fix those. But we need to do so quickly.

        We don’t have time for 10, let alone 20 more years or bickering over road pricing, EV incentives or any of a number of things that we have spent years arguing about. They’ve been arguing about Auckland road pricing for over 13 years and have less than nothing to show for it.

        Its all “How many Angels on the head of a pin” type stuff.

        We need to have a massive circuit breaker.

    2. “The cost of EVs” assuming literally every person buys a brand new car at today’s prices for EV tech? Good lord.

      1. You have to buy a new one to get even ten years out of it. Old EVs don’t work, the batteries are shot.

        The kiwi model of buying a 8 to 10 year old japanese import (over 60% of the ‘new’ car market) then trading them around till they are 20 years old doesn’t work for EVs.

        1. Uh I’m gonna need a big old ‘citation needed’ on that given that the overwhelming majority of our current EV fleet is made up of 2nd hand Japanese Imports like the Leaf being used as commuter cars. Also, I think you’ll find those severely degraded battery packs can now be replaced locally and in the medium term, possibly with modern, more resilient cells. There are some local businesses who have already developed the tools to make the bigger batteries talk to the older, original Nissan Leafs. The more of them that arrive, the more customers and services we’ll see aimed at maintaining and even upgrading EVs.

        2. And there will be a lot of fear mongering about EV battery issues. Its not necessarily about weather they will be better or worse, but if they are perceived to be better or worse.

        3. Big issues with getting charging points into existing parking buildings, and the cost of having to run a whole second meter, or when people park on the road. Until there’s a solution for that most people will be upgrading to hybrids. There are a lot of barriers to many people for EVs but the only barrier for eBikes is AT’s opposition to road space re-allocation and refusal to spend the money they’ve had on safe infrastructure.

        4. “Most people will upgrade to hybrids” – Most people with garages have 240v sockets in them, so the difference between an EV and a hybrid charged overnight is moot.

          Yes, if you have an apartment or car parking building (would love to know how many people who fall into this category live centrally enough to access other forms of transportation) then there is going to be a problem, much in the same way you can’t grow your own vegetables etc. This doesn’t stop people accessing community/commercial resources and vehicle chargers aren’t that much different.

          I don’t see why EVs have to be perfect enough for every imaginable situation. I don’t have a petrol station in my house either – weirdly it didn’t stop me buying a car?

      2. Yes. And it’s an economic and logisitcs problem many people are ignoring. Much of the NZ fleet is built on cheap ‘dirty’ imports. Any form of emissions reduction via vehicle standards will require more expensive vehicles.

        In terms of EVs, it’s unlikely that there is the size of secondary market available to flip the NZ fleet at the scale and speed required.

        Fundamentally the discussion is about our car ownership levels – highest in the world. Getting rid of the second car is one of the fastest ways for transport emissions reduction.

    3. Current ownership is at 86%. Needs to drop to 50%. For NZ at 6 million people (sometime in the next 20 years) that is 5.1 vs 3 million vehicles or 2.1 million vehicles. That private capital should be allocate to more productive means. That’s also ignoring the unproductive time spend driving.

      1. I own…too many cars. But I own them for the same reason one might own a painting or sculpture – I like looking at them, I like working on them and I don’t actually drive them that often. Let me know when we’re kicking down doors and smashing fine art that isn’t ‘productively invested’ because I can set that bar pretty high if I decide I don’t like something.

        1. If the average New Zealand household was spending 18% of its weekly income on depreciating fine art, we probably would have to start talking about that huge problem.

        2. I guess the problem could actually be looking at something as blunt as ‘car ownership rates’ might be half the problem, given that so many Kiwis seem to need cars to be able to get to jobs they need to make ends meet when car ownership rates and long commutes are a symptom of shitty planning, not the root cause. I’d love to not have to have a practical daily driver because it could mean I could own something far more interesting (at least interesting enough to endure the extra time it would take to commute by other means, which I note doesn’t ever seem to get counted as ‘unproductive time’). I suspect many others would be in the same boat. Car ownership rates may not drop, but use patterns would change dramatically. That’s what I’d rather we aimed for.

        3. Given car ownership in NZ is the highest in the world. I’d say that it is the principle problem.

        4. Infrastructure. Relatively little money put into alternatives for the last 70 years. Resulting in poor service for PT, and poor safety for cycling.

        5. And of course all the interlinked and mutually reinforcing elements of car dependence, as I wrote in my post on the subject:

          the automotive industry;
          the provision of car infrastructure;
          the political economy of car-dependent land-use patterns;
          the provision of public transport; and
          cultures of consumption of the automobile.

          Buttwizard is enjoying this last one, but suffers from the problems with the third and fourth. 🙂

        6. Indeed, I would say the principle problem is that it is so exceedingly difficult to get around without a car. The high car ownership is a symptom.

        7. Good, as we heard from them today, that the climate change commission modelling involves looking at the picture for the long term – end of century – and this helps shape which of the different pathways they will recommend for the short and medium term.

          Sprawl reduction must therefore be one of the top recommendations. Which is great, because BAU thinking has prevented so many people for realising that the short term benefits are good too.

  4. I have been into several of our new apartments. To me they are very attractive, well designed and with good views.
    Unfortunately there are still those who have negative thoughts about them.
    I have also been to many homes that are tired, cold, no views, etc.
    We are now building more apartments close to the CBD and near to stations and that is good

    1. If someone’s opinion of apartments was shaped by what was being built in Auckland 20-30 years ago then its understandable why they wouldn’t hold them in high regard. Leaky buildings aside, many of those apartments are poorly laid out and had some questionable design choices.

      The more modern apartments (<5 years old) are much better. Intelligent use of space, more thought put into ventilation and natural light, use of lower maintenance materials etc.

      1. Yes. All tenants in the 50 apartment building i lived in at Flat Bush have been moved Out. It was poorly built and is costing $20 million to repair.

        1. Ouch. What apartment building is that? Hopefully it doesn’t turn into a saga like the Mountain Rd Apartments in Panmure (NZ’s most expensive leaky building remediation).

        2. It’s on or beside Carlos Drive.
          There are several apartment blocks and more than 2 are to be demolished or gutted.

  5. – But we also need to help Auckland Transport find the quick exit from their current doomed pathway of trying to accommodate extra vehicle movements.

    I dunno about the rest of you but I think AT have enough staff to manage this themselves. What’s getting in the bloody way that means they have to rely on volunteers to help?

    1. They can’t do it themselves because their internal culture and many of their existing staff are the problem. Without external pressure they won’t change.

  6. Thank you for this post which lays out the situation clearly.

    Thanks especially for the link to the Driving Down Emissions report. It is a good source of research. This is a paragraph from that report, and something I’ve been concerned about:

    “Further, an analysis by the International Energy Agency based on the World Energy Outlook 2019 found that consumers’ appetite for SUVs will offset emissions savings from electric vehicles. SUVs consume about a quarter more energy than medium-sized cars, and they make up around 40 percent of annual car sales as of 2019, compared with less than 20 percent a decade ago. IEA writes, “If consumers’ appetite for SUVs continues to grow at a similar pace seen in the last decade, SUVs would add nearly 2 million barrels a day in global oil demand by 2040, offsetting the savings from nearly 150 million electric cars.” We need to find ways to reduce driving rates altogether,
    because trends in the fleet makeup are sending us in the wrong direction.”

    1. I don’t like people who drive SUVs because when one of them is on front of me, I can’t see clearly which makes driving unsafe.

  7. I will continue to drive to go fishing at a location 1KM away from my house because I can’t carry three fishing rods by hand that far. And I can catch coronavirus on PT.

    BTW we need to reduce congestion (travel times), not traffic (number of cars on road).

    1. We do need to reduce travel times for peoples sanity reasons. But unfortunately building more roads wont do that. (unless you had 20 times the budget). The only way out is alternatives that are cheaper per person moved. Bikes, busses, trains.

      For climate reasons we need to reduce VKT, which equates directly to less cars on the road.

    2. ‘I will continue to drive to go fishing at a location 1KM away from my house because I can’t carry three fishing rods by hand that far. And I can catch coronavirus on PT.

      BTW we need to reduce congestion (travel times), not traffic (number of cars on road).’

      So much irony in one post I don’t even know where to start! Nice one

    3. Thought of buying an using an electric cargo bike? Would be a fun way to get there and back and you could probably park it right up closer to where you fish compared to a car too, depending on the location.

    1. 70c per km is $70 per 100 km. So for a Prius at 5L per 100km that is an additional $14 per L. For an SUV at 10L per 100km that is $7 per L.

    2. I agree. But how on earth can “fuel pricing (including ETS)” come anywhere near that? Current ETS is only 1% of that amount, and there is even less appetite for massive petrol tax hikes than for congestion charging.

      The bubble picture is rubbish.

  8. I doubt changing our urban form via planning rules would make a significant difference to Auckland’s carbon emissions over the next 10 years. Unless it was drastic (all building must take place within 3km of city centre for example), it would only result in a small percentage of households making a small reduction in emissions.
    Over a longer period maybe, but surely electric cars will almost completely remove all transport emissions over a longer period anyway.
    While I would definitely prefer a more compact city I don’t think C02 emissions is a particularly good argument for it.

    1. I respectfully suggest your doubt is due to years of the public discourse being dominated by the political economy of car dependence.

      Either reading the research, or doing some calculations yourself would convince you otherwise. For this, you’ll need to compare:

      – the number of new and existing residents in new and existing lower density development if we follow the current pathway – and the longer distances the new developments require people to travel, vs
      – the number of new and existing residents in higher density TOD development regenerated from existing lower density developments, or in cycleable distance of it – and the shorter distances this will enable everyone to travel.

      Then combine that with LTN street layouts and proper multi modal urban boulevards with buses that receive priority, and a joined up, safe, cycle network convenient for e-bikes as well as pushbikes, and you’ll see the difference is huge.

      Having done this work, I believe that with changes to planning rules AND diverting the many billions of public dollars from sprawl development to regenerative development, along with some direct investment by government in transit oriented development, we absolutely can completely change our urban form in ten years. And the emissions reductions will be massive.

      1. I have no doubt that a more compact urban form would decrease our current emissions.
        But realistically just the planning changes alone would take at least 2 years. Best case scenario would be a massive overhaul of the RMA (that won’t be quick), without that it would need all of the consultations etc that we had with the AUP.
        Then probably at least 3 years before the first buildings are built (as high rise take longer to design / consent / build).
        So in the next 10 years until 2030 we may get 5 years worth of compact development at best. It could drastically change the urban form in the areas that get developed, but unlikely to make a big change to the overall makeup of the city.
        I think a much more effective and immediate change would be to tax the crap out of ICE vehicle sales after 2025 for example.

        1. Taxing ICE vehicles would increase the cost of driving and encourage high density living, so I guess it would be a similar outcome but achieved in a different way.

        2. “realistically just the planning changes alone would take at least 2 years” – not according to Ockham. They say there’s heaps that can be done under the AUP.

          Panuku’s holdings, and all the publicly owned carparks could be scrutinised for what is located well under the current rules, supplemented quickly with adjacent purchases by government (or standalone purchases on the market already), and building on several of these could start within 2 or 3 years. – You could also target any well-located Kainga Ora property and redo the design at higher density.

          I’d also suggest Council should commission a “Lessons Learnt” report into the many apartment developments which were designed and marketed, but which folded. Where these were due to having to get neighbour consent, I can see that the planning changes are required. But for many of them, I think there were also barriers put in place by Council planners.

    2. “I doubt changing our urban form via planning rules would make a significant difference to Auckland’s carbon emissions over the next 10 years”

      I agree, changing the rules around density. Or just removing the rules that restrict it are part of the solution to our various issues long term, and imo will have largest impact. Especially because it will force the hand of other stuff, transport, greenspace etc. 10 year timespan however it is not.

      1. *i wish we could edit comments.
        Dont get me wrong, I think we should change the planning rules tomorrow, and stop making the city more sprawled out immediately. But again, 10 years is a very short timespan to achieve significantly (however many x) more mode shift. And move a large portion of the population into more energy efficient homes.

        1. Two good reasons to give it our best shot:

          – We can help set new expectations about what’s possible for car dependent cities around the world;
          – Any emissions reductions that aren’t necessarily achieved by 2030 might be achieved by 2032, or 2034… all good.

  9. Team e-cargo bike here, shore side.
    Sold the second car and wouldn’t look back. My daughter and I love getting up to daycare on the bike.
    Why do I look like such an outlier in my neck of the woods where everybody drives?
    Lockdown showed the demand for quiet roadspace to ride on (and the time to do so, I guess).
    It seems like the obvious immediate answer to so many of the problems we’re facing is reallocating roadspace to safe riding and some sort of assistance into e-bikes from the govt.
    Seems like a no-brainer to me but I’m missing something because the years keep passing and it doesn’t seem to be happening.

    1. I wish I had time to make a post out of my north shore rambling calculations and mullings over maps. The north shore is often considered too car dependent to shift, but that is so wrong.

      Keep up the great modelling, and enjoy!

  10. People need affordable places to live and rent. The Govt has ruled out using a lot of the levers it could. Keep increasing the minimum wage and build or buy heaps of dwellings to rent out as state housing and undercut the private rental markets. Failure to provide affordable housing will lead to a very fractured society. Can we build a affordable compact city. At the moment we are not. If we are going to sprawl at least do it along a railway line or other rapid transport line. But we cant even do that properly it’s hopeless that there isn’t a railway station at Pokeno or Dury for that matter. I know you can’t make people use public transport but if they live far out and don’t then it’s their problem it doesn’t mean that satellite towns shouldn’t be allowed.

    1. I thought Drury was getting a station (or two)?

      And Pokeno is in the Waikato. Best shot is if regional rail is a success and thry agree on a stop there in future.

    2. My post was a bit confused. So cheaper rent so people are more mobile. Then satellite towns don’t become a trap change job change houses. Anyway lots of state houses needed and don’t provide too much parking for them which will encourage heavy car users to go somewhere else. Developers love concrete if we leave house building up to them every new dwelling will have room for 4 cars. If the council won’t provide on street parking the developers will provide on section parking.

  11. Meanwhile at the other end of the island there has just been announced a plan to dramatically expand housing on the outskirts of Levin. Horowhenua Mayor Bernie Wanden says “by the end of the decade, the huge motorway projects connecting the area to Wellington could make it an hour-long straight shot to the Capital.” A nearly 200km round trip. Further to the south we have a large underutilized airport near the centre of Paraparaumu. It would ideally be turned into high density housing to create a 15 minute suburb close to cycleways, trains, swimming pools and shops. But that council wants the taxpayer to subsidise the airport. If we keep building housing that depends on expanding motorways and subsidise airports we will have great difficulties in reducing emissions

    1. Indeed – a most stupid proposition. Therefore, it should be hugely popular. Let’s face it – anyone working in Wellington will not want to be driving in – even with Transmission Gully when it is finally built, there will still be massive traffic jams. Public transport from Levin? There is no train, currently, although one day there could be if they extend the electrification of the line.

      Best possible outcome: that the retirees of Paraparaumu move to Levin, and that they leave houses suitable for workers to occupy.

        1. I occasionally travel on it. It is old and slow and not that popular. The line needs double tracking from Waikanae and upgrading all the way to Palmerston North. Could have done the Waikanae to Otaki section while building the current section of motorway but that was an opportunity missed.

        2. GWRC is preparing a business case for replacing the Wairarapa and Capital Connection trains with hybrid units, including increasing the service to Levin.

          But should we be encouraging commuting over such long distances, even if it is by rail?

    1. Sorry, didn’t see that this was already posted. Can climate change now be taken into account in the planning decision?

  12. It seems to me the key thing we are missing here is that it is simply nowhere near good enough to just improve cycling and buses and trains. What we actually need to do to reduce car commuting is to make car commuting not the best option for most people. So congestion charges with the money ring fenced to give people options to avoid the congestion charges – like cheaper, more frequent public transport, protected cycle paths on any road that is faster than 30kph. And like the dutch do, make cars go the long way around – make them go out to a ring road and run the ring road and back in from the other side rather than allowing them to go directly through the centre as you allow public transport and bikes to do.

    1. Yes the value is in reducing racing driving. The alternatives need to be improved, cheaper, in order to maintain access for social and economic outcomes, 2nd order in terms of emissions, but important for society. Top of the list is proximity; already being there.

      This needs to be clearly given to the agencies as their top priority. No more confusion about whether they are still expanding/speeding/prioritising traffic and adding a bit of other stuff on the side. The priority of the last 70 years has to be over and very clearly communicated, and why.

      The great news is this also fixes every other ill of over-motorisation: Congestion, Traffic Violence, Ugly City, Shitty Land-use, Air and Water Quality, huge fuel and private car import bill…..

  13. There are a number of issues here. Firstly is NZ has made a commitment to the Paris climate change agreement. In order to meet that, emission savings need to be made in many areas and using multiple solutions. Some of the savings will be planting trees, others in changes to our farming methods.
    Regarding Transport, the bulk of the emissions are in the heavy goods fleet. We are not going to be able to cargo bike inter city. Here – and the same applies to Kiwirail – there is no credible EV option that gets us across the line, within the time frame agreed.
    The silver bullet for this sector is advanced biofuels. Drop in fuel that can replace diesel. This is what Europe is doing with mandates such as RED2 and what California does with the LCFS and RINS.
    NZ will have to adopt similar policies for the next 30 years, until our heavy trucks and rail stock is replaced with either Hydrogen FC or EV – or something completely different.
    As for the light vehicle fleet, this will transition to Hybrid and BEV, while better fuel standards will make petrol cleaner and have a percentage of GHG reduction in the gasoline.

  14. I find it hard to believe that we need more public transport when the ones we have on the roads right now are almost empty and this is at peak times
    I think the Mayor needs to get out and about to see what is really happening, I forgot he would be on his way home around this time!!!
    I am in favour of a road toll, if we can run a car we can pay the toll
    Could be weekly concession tickets at a cheaper rate

    1. There’s far more wasted investment in the roads built wider to accommodate people in single vehicles, and in the vehicles themselves, and in all the parking places the vehicles need, than there is in partly full buses.

  15. I don’t know what busses you’re on but mine sure aren’t almost empty. I’ve fallen into the trap before where I would see number 30 busses almost empty all the time, but it was because I lived near the end of the line. If you are on it around Newmarket then it’s pretty full 3/4 probably. On a double decker.
    There has been a drop in pt use post COVID, but by all accounts this is guaranteed to be a temporary respite. Unless we stop immigration to Auckland, both internal from NZ and external then there will be significantly increased demand over the next decades. So there I’ll need to be planning and provision for upgrades to the network.
    Also the mayor isn’t the bloke telling AT where to put bus routes and how many to put there.

      1. Are there stats available on this? I seem to remember something from long ago, but I cant seem to find anything that’s recent. I don’t personally know anyone that’s moved out of Auckland, or wants to. But I know plenty that have moved to Auckland, including myself, and about 3/4 of my friend group. Probably my demographic, but I was under the presumption that part of Auckland’s growth was internal from NZ.

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