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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. Make public transport a more equitable and viable option for low-income Aucklanders;
  4. Make public transport more accessible for disabled people in Tāmaki Makaurau;
  5. Stay true to the ‘quality-compact’ urban form by building up not out;
  6. Clean up the air in Tāmaki Makaurau’s city centre so it is the cleanest of any million-plus city in the world;
  7. Improve community outreach and public engagement regarding changes to the public transport system;
  8. 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.

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  1. Extraordinary work Jack. If only my (boomer) generation had a fraction of your smarts and eloquence the world would be a better place. Go well.

  2. I’ll be there! Thanks Jack. And thanks to all the students who are putting this energy in. I’m sorry you’re having to do this, but hopefully Aotearoa adulthood can move past fear-based timidity and wake up to our responsibility.

    We can adopt low carbon practices, clean up our environment and make society more equitable. We just need to stop being blinded by habits. And we need to stop favouring the current polluting businesses and stacking the system against green, sustainable ones.

    1. Thank you Heidi! Hopefully enough pressure and people yelling the same song will be enough – excited to march alongside you on Friday. Love the work you do too!

  3. “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. ”

    Quite right there. And if more adults would demand the same, things would be in better shape. Come on, Auckland.

    It’s a good list of core demands.

    1. Thank you Derek – getting people out there on the streets demanding this too is definitely our goal! Hoping for some action

  4. See you there. Auckland Council – Climate Commission et al – Please get ahead of this.
    Phil Goff future sound bites – “we’re taking this very seriously, and have a great program ahead of us…etc” is meaningless when your teams keep delivering car based solutions and cheap parking. ANNOUNCE do-or-die targets – or move aside for someone who can.

  5. The infrastructure for the next generation is being planned, consented and built right now. The need to listen to the next generation about what that future should be is now, not in 5 or 10 years time when the first plans will start to come through after any Plan changes that are proposed even as soon as Friday.
    Add to the demands that congestion is only ‘important’ for freight and delivery in Auckland – for private car travel, ‘congestion’ is a motivation to change, not something to be dissolved in car capacity spending.

  6. Awesome work Jack. This is so important, and you’re showing yourself to be the adult in this situation.

    With respect to our transport system the number one issue in my opinion is how easy it is for people to park at little or no cost. The thing people miss here is that this is a spatial land use issue. If there is no where to park your car then people wont drive. Alot is made of induced driving through widening road capacity (which is true (but the parking at then end of the trip is often overlooked).

    We can talk about CRL and LRT all we like but until we address the ease of driving and ultimately parking at little or no cost on public land we will never get ahead.

    Even New York has gridlocked congestion despite having one of the most comprehensive metro systems in the world. Reason being, vast swathes of Manhattan kerbside is still free parking. This is outrageous given the value of this underlying land…

    In my opinion the use of parking space now needs to be treated like smoking. Reduce and what remains, charge for it to cover the negative externalities.

    In the public realm – Get rid of parking as much as possible, charge for what remains and charge for everywhere… $90 for a yearly permit to occupy the leafy inner suburbs for your third or fourth car is ridiculous for obvious reasons.

    In the private – start levies etc for such a useless land use.

    Public parking space need to be viewed as just simply space. We need to take this space back for higher and better use. Whether that be cycling lanes on an arterial, wider sidewalks in a town centre, Rain gardens along a residential street to stop families dumping their third or 4th car out on the street.

    We need to start taking back the space and reallocate it to more productive and lower carbon emitting uses. Improving PT will only be so successful without doing this.

    I commend what you are doing… but your protest will be good for a 24 hour news cycle….as South Auckland Rules says above… Goffy will come up with some ‘we are looking into it’ sound byte that will then be kicked down the road. You will be seen as some good ‘eager kids’ and then it will fade away.

    Real change can only be done by adopting a protracted and lengthy campaign in my opinion. In the same way American Civil Rights activists sat for hours in the ‘whites only’ milk bar. We need people to start thinking about occupying the space in a peaceful and deliberate way.

    What this looks like in this scenario im not sure… Existing parking space re-imagined as Pop up cycleways, pop up gardens etc with guerilla style concrete barricades going in over night. Right through to…

    Protected by humans lying on the ground??? These acts are potentially illegal so extreme caution is advised but i’m honestly wondering what else there is left that might work to get the pace of change we need.

    All the best Jack!

    1. I was thinking about more “radical” solutions the other day. It could turn out pretty poorly and is risky. But there are a number of little changes that would be easy to implement in such a style and I think would be quite successful. Going out with the paint, some signs and maybe concrete. That would be a smidge harder to pull off quickly.

      1. I reckon a fairly easy way to get attention is squads ,say 10-20 people at various pedestrian crossings,a semi coordinated approach would bring traffic to a standstill,would piss a lot of people off,but hey,at least they have to take notice,and all within the law,as far as I know.

    2. Yep, looking at you, Waitemata Local Board, on the residential parking permits. It’s good you’re calling out AT on their bullshit so often, but you need to look at some of the stuff you’re doing, too.

      Kalamari Cobra – real name I’m sure – even if Goff thinks these are just “eager kids” it won’t just fade away. The majority of people expect climate change to be planned for properly.

      If Goffy comes up with some ‘we are looking into it’ sound byte and doesn’t ensure the targets in Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri can be met by the current plans being finalised, he’ll simply look a fool.

      It is nothing short of sick that Council is managed so very poorly that our youngest have to get out and protest like this.

      1. We need to be careful with making the car less attractive to use. Incidents like eScooter crashes can eventuate because, and I quote the defence counsel in this instance:

        (the incident can be linked to) “broader problems which resulted from authorities making motorcars less attractive to people.”

        Yes, I am being sarcastic.

  7. Good work!
    One additional demand I’d like to see is to build out the strategic cycling network through street space reallocation.

  8. Thanks Jack and all your peers who are doing the hard work to ensure your generation has a liveable city and world. I agree in particular with the call to reallocate space for sustainable and active means. As someone who grew up in the 70’s ” Status Quo” were never good – you might have to google them!

  9. Superb Jack. Very eloquently put. You put many older advocates to shame…
    As you say it’s not really asking that much.

  10. Jack Barlow a great post thank you.
    You and your contemporaries are being to live in this world a lot, lot longer, then those who currently have the most influence in what is happening right now.
    I am sure you have realised that this is far from fair or desirable.
    So go to it, you will get some of it wrong, it is getting more right that counts.
    The only thing that achieves nothing is doing nothing.
    We cannot keep going on our current path. So a better path is required and it seems you have some really good ideas in this direction.

  11. Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but frankly, I would prefer students stay in school and study.
    Climate change issues will be solved with science (they already are), not by taking a day off and protesting.
    That’s the problem with Greta, she is not providing any answers, she is just complaining.
    None of the 8 demands are particularly special or groundbreaking or really providing significant solutions.
    Pretty much all the items are already being done by Auckland council.
    Who knows, maybe that day at school will be a Eureka moment when some students start a journey that ends up with one of them inventing a storage solution for hydrogen or a student studying biology, managing to harvest biofuels from algae.
    Carbon capture and recycling will be a total game changer for life on this planet and in Space, this is how climate change will be solved, by harnessing energy that is cleaner than burning stored carbon.
    Don’t waste your time walking up Queen Street, spend it in class instead. It will be the best thing you can do.

    1. Brilliant logic, as Council & AT are doing such a great job at the moment. Let’s be honest, the old people in charge don’t want to make their lives less comfortable to change anything and this is the outcome. You always have to rely on the young to drive proper change otherwise people like you get in the way

      1. But the council and AT are doing a huge amount to combat climate change. Buss service providers are only going to be able to tender for routes using new Electric or HFC vehicles and for existing fleet, they will have to use synthetic fuels.
        Ferry operators are going to be using Low GHG emission fuels as well.
        Ports of Auckland is building a green hydrogen plant, I think the first commercial scale of it’s type in the Southern Hemisphere. Huge investment is happening in rail and AT are also building cycle paths.
        Unless you think the council should ban the automobile (which is never going to happen), it’s hard to think what they should be doing better.
        Taking a Friday off school is not going to achieve anything. The council have already decided we have a climate emergency and are already working towards meeting the challenges of fixing that. Doing a far better job of it so far than The Central Government.
        Funny thing doing this on a Friday – why not a Wednesday or the weekend?

        1. Please read the article again. The council is not carrying out the climate plan it’s agreed to. None of the things you mentioned impact on emissions to the degree agreed.

          EECA gave Ports of Auckland $250,000 3 years ago for this green hydrogen demo plant, as far as I can tell it has not progressed one little bit yet.

        2. That is simply not true. The post, while I am sure is well intended, was full of unsubstantiated claims:
          1. All signs do not point to an increase in emissions. In fact the signs are clear that GHG per population will drop. It’s a bit silly to expect the city to grow in population and the total emissions to net drop.
          2. They do not just need their feet held to the flames. If only meeting the Paris agreement was so simple. Auckland Council need a carefully planned, financed and executed pathway to meet the targets. I believe that they are mostly on the road to achieving this.
          3. 86% of the people in Aotearoa want climate action to be prioritised in our Covid recovery??? Source please!
          Most of the transport emissions come from private light vehicles. The plan is for The Central Government feebate and market forces to bring more BEV’s into the private fleet. Around 20% of Transport emissions come from heavy transport. Auckland council have a plan to have only zero emissions busses added to the fleet and for the existing buses to run on synthetic fuels which have up to 90% GHG reductions. They do have to consider the existing fleet or else you will have every bus operator going out of business because of stranded assets.
          The Central Government has already announced that there will be a consultation on biofuel mandates across all fuels. This is going to also help reduce total GHG emissions across Auckland.
          What on earth is taking a Friday off school hoping to achieve that is not already being done?
          Schools would be better off spending that day, having outside experts come to classes and teach the students the science and the opportunities of combating climate change.
          That way the kids and the teachers (who are mostly clueless on the subject) could both learn.

        3. “It’s a bit silly to expect the city to grow in population and the total emissions to net drop.”

          Nope, it’s silly to think that we should be emitting (net) any carbon at all in 2050.

        4. “It’s a bit silly to expect the city to grow in population and the total emissions to net drop.”
          Nope, that’s what’s required. If some more effort and political will was put in, not unreasonable.

        5. “None of the things you mentioned impact on emissions to the degree agreed.” I doubt the actions proposed by Jack Barlow will close the gap to the 2030 targets in the Auckland Climate Plan either. The draft RLTP says those 2030 targets can only be met with very strong interventions to reduce private vehicle demand with perverse social, cultural and economic impacts.

        6. “It’s a bit silly to expect the city to grow in population and the total emissions to net drop.”

          The obvious truth they refuse to accept.

        7. @sailor boy. How are you imagining zero carbon emissions by 2050??? No one is suggesting that, not even The Green Party!
          @Jack Local and Central Governments are doing lots of things to meet NZ’s commitments. I suggest you read the MOT Green Freight paper and the Climate Change Commission report.
          There is a huge amount going on in the background that the general public may not be aware of.
          What on earth do you think a day off school is going to achieve that’s not already being done?

        8. I agree they are doing lots of things to meet NZ’s climate goals.
          Unfortunately they’re doing lots of things to totally counteract that and override it. While also not doing near enough to actually come close to meeting climate goals.
          Yes, I’ve read most of the CCC’s report, I’m glad they wrote more words, maybe the next working group’s working group will be able to write the next report more quickly and get to go home faster. TBH I think a lot of their suggestions are pretty reasonable.

          I do agree that the school’s strike isn’t going to do much, maybe subconsciously sway some small decisions perhaps.

          The problem is that so much more could be done for transport emissions, that would have a number of other positive benifits for the city. All that remains in the way is politics. If these changes were implemented we would legitimately decrease emissions

        9. “All signs do not point to an increase in emissions. In fact the signs are clear that GHG per population will drop.”

          No, all signs show Auckland, NZ, and the world’s rates of emissions reductions are substantially inadequate compared to what is needed to provide a liveable future, and New Zealand’s rate in particular is so out of whack that we will be wasting enormous amounts of money on carbon credits, and are likely to face trade barriers. Even from a short term economic point of view, continuing with today’s programmes is illogical, and only serves business as usual.

          “it’s hard to think what they should be doing better.” – luckily not everyone has difficulty thinking about this. The Sustainability Team laid out a plan for meeting the targets. Council just need to follow the plan – but they’re not doing so.

          Taking a Friday off school could easily change everything. Each generation has to push the boundaries on how society treats new ideas. As an example, earlier generations were not allowed to strike about work conditions, but they did it anyway, and now the legislation allows them to do so. Values and concerns change, and it’s the youth who have always pushed decision-makers to understand that they’re systems are out of date and need changing. That’s what’s happening today.

          The Mayor and CEO of Council did not oversee the development of a Long Term Plan that is suitable for today. They need to be called to account.

        10. @Heide,
          1. ‘No, all signs show Auckland, NZ and the worlds rates of emissions reductions are subsequently inadequate compared to what is needed to provide a liveable future’
          Can you provide a credible scientific source for that claim?
          2. Who is in the ‘sustainability team’ and what expertise do they have?
          3. ‘The mayor and CEO of council did not oversee the development of a long term plan that is suitable for today’
          That is simply an opinion, please don’t present it as a fact.

        11. “Can you provide a credible scientific source for that claim?”

          The IPCC’s latest research report Aggregates the credible science. The world needs to be on track for 40% reductions by 2030 nd net zero by 2050 with developed nations doing more than that. New Zealand is nowhere near that.

        12. Lewis, I’ve provided credible sources to back up my claims in my posts. It is you who’s produced sham claims without backup.

          1. – Thanks, Sailor Boy.
          2. Excuse me? The Sustainability Team have many decades of climate and sustainability analysis and expertise between them.
          3. I have blogged about the Long Term Plan. I can make the claim that it is not fit for today because I outlined many reasons and gave my rationale. My opinion is based on the facts I have given.

          On the other hand, your comments on this post are extremely unscientific and uninformed. You’re playing straight from the oil company’s paid troll playbook.

          Your next comments will be moderated, and can provide evidence for your opinions and claims.

        13. Did the IPCC say that we needed to limit emissions to 1.5 degrees to have a liveable future? I thought their argument was rather that the risks start climbing at 1.5 degrees.

        14. I’ve heard that some people hear “risk” and immediately get into the mindset of whether “it will happen” to them. I wonder if the IPCC need to talk directly of mortality?

          Even limiting the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees will provide a future so unliveable for many species they will go extinct; many others will be very stressed. But humans won’t enjoy going beyond 1.5 degrees either. Perhaps the use of the word risk is taking away people’s ability to visualise the effect of climate change on people’s survival. Here are some of the IPCC’s words:

          “Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C.”

          “limiting global warming to 1.5°C, compared with 2°C, could reduce the number of people both exposed to climate-related risks and
          susceptible to poverty by up to several hundred million by 2050”

          “Any increase in global warming is projected to affect human health, with primarily negative consequences (high confidence). Lower risks are projected at 1.5°C than at 2°C for heat-related morbidity and mortality (very high confidence) and for ozone-related mortality if emissions needed for ozone formation remain high (high confidence). Urban heat islands often amplify the impacts of heatwaves in cities (high confidence). Risks from some vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, are projected to increase with warming from 1.5°C to 2°C, including potential shifts in their geographic range (high confidence).”

          “Exposure to multiple and compound climate-related risks is projected to increase between 1.5°C and 2°C of global warming with greater proportions of people both exposed and susceptible to poverty in Africa and Asia (high confidence). For global warming from 1.5°C to 2°C, risks across energy, food, and water sectors could overlap spatially and temporally, creating new – and exacerbating current – hazards, exposures, and vulnerabilities that could affect increasing numbers of people and regions (medium confidence). Small island states and economically disadvantaged populations are particularly at risk (high confidence).”

        15. One of the points Lewis raised was about whether there was any scientific backing for the statement that the future will become unliveable at plus 1.5 degrees. That was a fair query on his part. And what’s more based on the IPCC quotes you’ve given it looks like your statement was unfounded.

          The IPCC hasn’t said mortality rates would go up under the 1.5 degrees scenario, and even if they did that would still be nowhere near the same as the future becoming unliveable – which would imply a certain death for everyone.

        16. No, Sherwood. Liveable means worth living, or fit to live in. Unliveable means unfit or unsuitable for living in, insufferable, or unbearable.

          I have used these words correctly.

          It’d be good if you could shift away from splitting hairs, and concentrate on finding solutions to the threats we face.

        17. The point is you are unfairly splitting hairs with Lewis – at least on this point.

          I just checked – according to the online dictionaries I have unlivable means unfit to live in, uninhabitable. The IPCC isn’t saying that for 1.5 degrees.

        18. Sherwood, the comment of mine that Lewis took issue with was:

          “No, all signs show Auckland, NZ and the worlds rates of emissions reductions are subsequently inadequate compared to what is needed to provide a liveable future”

          This comment was about current emissions – which, as you know, are heading us towards a much higher temperature rise than 2 degrees.

          At this point you introduced the 1.5 degree scenario as a strawman, by saying, “Did the IPCC say that we needed to limit emissions to 1.5 degrees to have a liveable future? I thought their argument was rather that the risks start climbing at 1.5 degrees.”

          At this point I provided further information for your interest about what the IPCC did say.

          Next you shifted the strawman slightly, to the wording “unliveable at *plus* 1.5 degrees” – “One of the points Lewis raised was about whether there was any scientific backing for the statement that the future will become unliveable at plus 1.5 degrees. That was a fair query on his part.”

          And you finally slayed your strawman by claiming that the IPCC isn’t saying 1.5 degrees *itself* is unliveable, in “unlivable means unfit to live in, uninhabitable. The IPCC isn’t saying that for 1.5 degrees.”

          This trolling behaviour is standard practice from you. It is unacceptable and unwelcome in our comments section.

    2. I believe they did the Friday off school thing last year. Why not organise school holiday or weekend events? Giving up their own time would show real commitment.
      As long as they are only active during term time and stick to Friday “school strikes” it will be easy to write them off as just skipping school for some afternoon sunshine with their mates.

      1. School time is their time. It’s their future we’re stuffing up. It’s their mental health we’re risking through making them having to stand up to get responsible action.

        Do you think unions should only strike on weekends and public holidays?

    3. We need more action than science. I suspect if it was a march on the weekend the young folk would get more respect from the dinosaurs though. On the other hand the public transport sucks so much on the weekend it would be hard for everyone to gather.

      1. That could actually help make their point. Either do a mass cycle into town or, for the really brave, cycle with a camera on and upload it to show exactly why it is we don’t cycle to school/sport/shops any more.
        One of the arguments against providing better facilities is the claim no-one will use them – a practical demonstration of current impossibility might help shake that up.

      2. The kids are calling bullshit for what it is, Grant. Please don’t spread the myth that they need to somehow win respect from “dinosaurs”. The dinosaurs who insist on continuing to pollute get too much air time as it is, and one of our key jobs is making decision-makers realise how out of touch they are.

        Redesigning systems to support our children in the future must take centre stage; Council has not done that. Criticising kids about when or how they protest about this is a form of predatory climate delay that simply loads more hate onto the generation we’re already stuffing up. Frankly, I’m surprised at you and Ehlana.

        Plenty of adults have full respect for what you’re doing, kids. I’m sorry.

    4. I agree. I’d say 90% of the kids protesting just want to skip school and don’t care all that much about climate change. At least not enough to actually do something meaningful about it. Just like the average person in the real world. Though given the decline of our education system, skipping a day of school isn’t going to make much difference to most youngsters anyway.

      So good on them going out and protesting. even if no one is listening.

      1. Yeah totally, and the miners were just striking because they couldn’t be arsed working.

        You have absolutely no evidence that kids don’t care about climate change, you’re just old mate with your í know best’ out of touch reckons.

    5. People are suffering and dying, ecosystems are being wrecked, and species are going extinct from climate change right now. Science hasn’t saved them. The IPCC says that behaviour and systems changes are required. Insistence that science will solve the problems is an organised strategy to delay climate action from corporates that stand to make money from continuing as they are and from the ensuing measures needed in climate emergency events.

  12. Jack, thanks for standing up to this situation. Our community really needs you and peers to role model to all generation, to tackle this mammoth climate crisis. As a parent myself, I would have been extremely proud if my young children (still in primary) have the same courage to speak up, take a stand and follow through with actions in this climate crisis. Hope it all goes well on Friday and beyond.

  13. This is a fantastic article:

    “It makes me very frustrated with the international diplomatic community that rather than impose regulations and scrutiny on themselves, they’ve externalised the cost of scrutinising what government is doing onto children and young people as well as the public.”

    “When we survey after a strike, they’re feeling much stronger about their sense of collective action. And in the long-term, we know that’s the biggest signifier of change. When you can act with other people, particularly people who are not necessarily like you, for a common purpose, that’s where we get the real political shifts happening.”

    Directly engaging with politics at a young age like this will also have long-term impacts, Hayward says.

    “You can’t underestimate the experience of taking part in these protests. It’s affecting new generations – what we call their sense of political efficacy, their ability to imagine and effect change, their ability to mobilise. It’s a massive political learning curve for the students that has very far-reaching effects beyond the immediate of these climate protests.”

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