This is a Guest Post by Jack Barlow, 16, a year-13 student at Western Springs College and spokesperson for School Strike 4 Climate Auckland.
As Greater Auckland have highlighted in many recent posts, there is a growing gap between the high level goals we have to reduce emissions and the more concrete plans and budgets to achieve those goals. This Friday, at midday in Te Komititanga outside Britomart station, we will demand that this gap is closed.
As a country, we are absolutely not doing enough to address the climate crisis. We need to put pressure on our Government to go harder and faster when it comes to climate action. We’ve seen what happens when we show bravery and leadership in the face of one crisis, with COVID-19. Our strikes put an unavoidable onus on the Labour Government to take charge in this crisis, and show proper leadership. We’ve seen the behavioural change that comes with bold leadership and a strong mandate. We must see that applied to this crisis.
However, central government does not hold all the power. We can also look nearer to home, to local government.
Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan is very good in a number of regards. However, Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland Council has not yet converted their bold plans into bold action. All signs point towards an increase in emissions over the next decade, when a radical reduction is required by their very own climate plan. This disconnect is unacceptable and must change. Transport is the largest area of emissions in Tāmaki Makaurau, making up 43.6% of our emissions profile. We cannot adequately reduce emissions without a transformational overhaul of our transport system.
At this strike we will demand that Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau drastically overhauls our public transport system, immediately reviews its transport and growth plans so they give proper effect to Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri, and makes public transport more accessible, affordable, equitable, and sustainable for everyone. Auckland Council knows what they need to do. Their plans say as much. They just need their feet to be held to the flames to actually listen to their working groups and deliver a better Tāmaki Makaurau for everyone.
School Strike 4 Climate Auckland has eight core demands for Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau. They are:
- Work with and pressure the Government to accelerate the delivery of Auckland’s Rapid Transit Network, including the early delivery of key corridors through roadspace reallocation and service improvements;
- Transform Tāmaki Makaurau into a city that encourages and enables active transport – particularly cycling, e-scooters, and walking – as viable commuting alternatives, through increased infrastructure and investments;
- Make public transport a more equitable and viable option for low-income Aucklanders;
- Make public transport more accessible for disabled people in Tāmaki Makaurau;
- Stay true to the ‘quality-compact’ urban form by building up not out;
- Clean up the air in Tāmaki Makaurau’s city centre so it is the cleanest of any million-plus city in the world;
- Improve community outreach and public engagement regarding changes to the public transport system;
- Work with and pressure the Government to fast-track the electrification of the public transport and light vehicle fleet.
The vast majority of what we’re asking for isn’t revolutionary or ground-breaking. We’re just asking Auckland Council to deliver on their own promises – to act on their plans. It is so clear that they know what they need to do. We’ve even included a reference section for all the publicly-available plans we’re asking for deliverance on, and footnoted everything. The knowledge-base is out there. We just need to see action.
We hope that our strike can put more pressure on Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau to move in the right direction. There is very clearly a public backing for bold action. 86% of people in Aotearoa want climate action to be prioritised in our COVID-19 recovery. In 2019, 180,000 people took to our streets to protest climate inaction. And central government doesn’t have to be the only one to take charge – local governments have levers for change too. We know we need bold leadership fast.
Help us put pressure on local and central governments to deliver meaningful change. No matter how young or old, we egg you to get out there and demand change alongside us. We need you.