Featured image is from the documentary High Tide Don’t Hide (see below)
Here’s our roundup for the week.
Climate Change Commission
On Wednesday, the Climate Change Commission published its advice to the New Zealand Government on its first three emissions budgets and direction for its emissions reduction plan 2022 – 2025. This follows their consideration of the public feedback to the draft advice they released in January. They say:
Aotearoa has committed to reaching net zero emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases by 2050 and reducing biogenic methane emissions between 24-47% by 2050. The Commission’s role is to provide independent, evidence-based advice to reach those targets.
It is now over to Government to decide whether to accept the advice, and to show how it will shape climate action in Aotearoa. The Government has until 31 December 2021 to set the first three emissions budgets out to 2035 and release the country’s first emissions reduction plan detailing the policies it will use to achieve the budgets.
Transformational and lasting change is both necessary and possible. The technology and the tools Aotearoa needs to reach its climate targets exist today. Our evidence shows climate action is affordable.
The government should use this advice as a springboard for systems change, and forget the stale ideas of politics and democracy that have tended to dilute experts’ recommendations and social ambition. It’s time for a new decision-making paradigm involving serious education and collaboration, in which the public are more involved in democracy and the outcomes are fairer.
Jamie Morton has written a good thread about some of the differences between the draft and final advice.
It’s notable that the Commission continues to refer to the 2050 target whereas the Climate Change Response Act (the Zero Carbon Act) requires the Commission:
to require the Minister to set a series of emissions budgets… with a view to meeting the 2050 target and contributing to the global effort under the Paris Agreement to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels;
If we take our fair share of action to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, the long term goal of net zero by 2050 will be largely largely dealt with.
The Ministry of Transport’s Hīkina te Kohupara – Kia mauri ora ai te iwi
This focus on the longer term target has filtered through to the Ministry of Transport’s discussion document out for consultation presently:
Council’s draft submission (p149 onwards) on the document is very inspiring. This nails one of the current challenges:
42. Analysis undertaken in the development of the ATAP 2021-2031 package found that only a small portion of Auckland Transport’s programme consisted of projects that will increase emissions… the way in which funding for large programmes such as renewals and safety is allocated to specific projects will ultimately determine the emissions profile of Auckland Transport’s overall investment programme.
43. Conversely, the analysis found that many large scale central government funded roading projects will increase Auckland’s transport emissions. These projects are therefore candidates for reconsideration in light of stated emissions reduction objectives.
The Coalition for More Homes has relaunched its campaign.
In 2016 we launched a campaign with a simple demand: Auckland Councilors must pass the Unitary Plan.
Since then, a building boom has erupted across the city: 10,000s of people are now living in homes that simply would not have been built without it.
— Coalition For Homes (@morehomesnz) June 7, 2021
Newshub had a positive article about Auckland YIMBYs:
“The Government has promised to provide a ton of affordable housing whereas the people who vote in local governments tend to be perhaps older and in these concentrated suburbs where they are particularly affected by new development,” Caldwell explains…
Stewart calls this a “critical problem with local democracy”. Only the people who live within a specific council ward can vote – not the people who may need to go to and through that ward for travel, work or school who would benefit from better transit or closer accommodation.
This means there’s a large incentive for residents to vote for councillors who promise to set rules in place to make development very difficult…
“Councils are some of the biggest drivers of housing unaffordability in New Zealand and the situation right now is so dire that nothing less than quick scaling up a public house building programmes and widespread relaxation of rules preventing the construction of new houses, whether that’s private or public, need to be removed.”
Some international climate change news
In Italy, climate activists are suing their government over inaction on climate change.
The UK government has announced that businesses must commit to net zero by 2050 before they can bid for major government contracts worth more than £5m a year.
The Tree Council are happy about Mill Rd
The Government’s announcement ending the Mill Road project has disappointed the south’s leaders.
Auckland Deputy Mayor and Franklin Ward Councillor Bill Cashmore understands costs have ballooned to $3.5billion but says residents are unhappy.
“This has been at the top of all the city’s transport plans since its inception, and it will have to be completed one day. The Drury development can only add to congestion and carbon emissions.
I’m not so sure about that, Councillor Cashmore.
“Top of all the city’s plans since its inception” If we take the 2012 Auckland Plan as a guide, the section of Mill Rd south of Papakura wasn’t even on the plans. Mill Rd north of Papakura showed up in the 2012 Auckland Plan as needing “improvement,” and that is what will be provided by the current plan.
I could more convincingly say that completing 70% of the Auckland Cycle Network was “top of all the city’s plans” as it was in the same list and aligns better with Council’s goals. Yet it is neither an item in the government-funded NZUP boost nor even in the Regional Land Transport Plan for the decade to 2031.
“The Drury development can only add to congestion and carbon emissions”: Couldn’t have said it better myself. Developing Drury is simply poor spatial and environmental planning when we need to create a compact urban form. But building new road capacity is not going to help resolve either the congestion or the carbon emissions this development will cause. Road capacity expansion eases local traffic congestion, but only temporarily, and it induces extra traffic – which emits more carbon emissions and congests the wider network.
The package now being provided to South Auckland is much more people-friendly and climate-appropriate. The government has said:
Savings from these changes to Mill Road will allow investment in transport upgrades to release housing and local centres in Drury in a way that supports the Government’s decarbonisation goals. The projects to be considered will include regional cycleways, arterial corridors that provide direct walking, cycling and/or bus access to stations and projects within or crossing state highway corridors to help release additional housing in Drury West.
Here are a couple of inspiring videos about Innovating Streets projects. The first is a round up of what’s happening around the country and the second is a nice one from Palmerston North.
All across the country, dozens of Innovating Streets projects are empowering councils and communities to come together, get creative, make changes on the ground, and learn what works best🎨🌳🚲 Find out how we’re getting a head-start on the future 👉 https://t.co/fagrrljUYV pic.twitter.com/SvsC7lRAbA
— Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency news (@WakaKotahi_news) June 8, 2021
We're using tactical urbanism to encourage people to linger, cycle and slow their driving speed outside Square Edge. 🤗🎨
— Palmerston North City Council (@PNCityCouncil) June 9, 2021
Serious crashes are on the rise
When Inspector Ashley Gurney hears the words ‘serious crash’ through his police radio, his thoughts jump to his family…
In the first six months of 2021, 146 people were killed in crashes across the country, an increase of 22 from last year, according to the Ministry of Transport…
He urged people to take responsibility for their safety and those around them…
Conversations about road safety at home and with friends were needed for a culture shift, he said.
Yes, that culture shift needs to happen and those conversations need to be had. But they’re not just about how we drive; we need the conversations about allowing the authorities to make the systems changes we need.
Red Light Running
Otago Daily Times reporters have been out recording the red light runners at an intersection in Dunedin, and reported running the red is a matter of routine for some drivers:
Within five minutes of arriving at 4pm for my allotted hour of vehicle monitoring, I had counted four blatant red light runners — one heading straight through and three pushing through a right turn arrow, as well as six vehicles squeezing the orange…
While driver behaviour appeared mostly good, the number of drivers speeding up rather than slowing down when the lights turned orange in front of them was concerning to see.
The longer this problem remains unaddressed, the more entrenched the behaviour will become.
The Norske Skog Pulp and Paper Mill to close
One of Kawerau’s mills will close due to the decline of the newsprint industry. Opened in 1955, the mill was built in Kawerau (rather than Murupara as originally intended) because of the geothermal power available there, and is currently owned by Norske Skog. With 160 people losing their jobs, the closure will be a loss to the town.
According to Wikipedia, the Murupara train line (built to serve the mill) was “the last major extension of the New Zealand Rail network.”
Kawerau has other mills, including a craft paper mill owned by a Japanese company, Oji Fibre Solutions, and a toilet paper mill owned by Asaleo Care.
I include the item here, because I’m interested to see whether there’ll be any joined up climate and resilience planning. There’s an available train line, workforce, timber supply, and general log-handling expertise in the area. The Provincial Growth Fund invested $19.9 million in a container terminal in the town and associated roading. Is this mill location appropriate for a value-added timber export industry or an enterprise to produce sustainable timber materials for our construction sector? Perhaps the government’s Mid-Rise Wood Construction programme would be interested?
K Rd Cycleway
The K Rd Cycleway is having its official blessing this morning. Stuff published a good user’s review of it by Josephine Franks:
My first impression was that it feels damn good to be sheltered from the cars…
But if bikes are protected from cars, pedestrians aren’t necessarily protected from bikes…
I was surprised by how much of my short cycle was spent waiting for a green light… Cars get first dibs on the green light, while bikes have to wait until the left-turning traffic has gone before proceeding straight.
Congestion Charging in Wellington
Minister Wood could reverse Phil Twyford’s position on congestion charging for Wellington:
Wood added that yesterday’s Climate Change Commission report had also weighed in on congestion charging.
“It is notable that the climate change commission has also said that we also need to consider congestion charging as part of the tool box as well,” Wood said.
Public Transport Operating Model Review
Consultation on the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) review closes on the 18th – next Friday. There have been a number of benefits from the PTOM, such as better network planning and consistent livery across many companies. But the PTOM is in need of improvement.
A more comprehensive and better quality public transport system will need more buses, and more drivers. To attract more drivers, and keep the good drivers who put safety and customer experience first, they need job security, better pay and conditions. Drivers need to receive ongoing professional Vision Zero training. They also need companies to have a culture in which drivers can raise issues for passengers, drivers and other road users, or that affect the network efficiency – and expect this input to be valued and acted upon.
To deliver on our aspirations for electric buses, companies will need to recoup the cost of new buses, so they’ll want a guarantee of long-term contracts. Yet in times of change, long-term contracts might lock us into yesterday’s plans. Perhaps the solution there is a shift to agencies or government owning the buses and leasing them back to the bus companies. Benefits could include standardizing on makes/models etc, as well as ensuring enough right sized buses. The would need a capex boost to get started though.
There’s a similar issue with depot infrastructure.
The PTOM will also need to be written in a way that works for cities and towns of all sizes. In towns and smaller cities, there’s no genuine competition, and money is always tight.
Documentary “High Tide Don’t Hide” is on tonight, part of the Doc Edge Festival
I’ve been told it’s an inspiring story: Facing a bleak future due to our inaction on addressing climate change, our teenagers have stood up and taken action.