Header image: Discourses of Climate Delay, by Leonard Chemineau
Welcome to the middle of Hereturikōkā (August), and here’s our weekly roundup.
This week’s roundup has been written in the shadow of the IPCC report that came out on Monday night, and the ways in which we are and are not responding to its challenge. Do add your thoughts in the comments.
You’ve probably read heaps about the IPCC report already this week – but in case you’re looking for a good summary, Bronwyn Hayward, who’s one of the report’s many contributing authors, gave a good interview on RNZ on Tuesday.
The Emissions Trading Scheme alone is not enough
And to add to the theme of ‘act now’, have a read of this piece by Climate Comissioner Catherin Leining, explaining why the emissions trading scheme alone won’t be enough to take us into a low-emissions future. She highlights the limits of the ETS:
The ETS is a blunt instrument. It incentivises emission reductions when doing so is profitable – regardless of other consequences to society, the economy and the environment.
Those who can afford rising emission prices will force change on others who are less able to pay, potentially to the point where well-being is threatened.
And points out that without being nested within a wider, more complex set of regulations, the ETS would put us at risk of creating or inheriting other environmental problems:
It leaves us vulnerable to becoming the dumping ground for the world’s remaining petrol cars and to increasing traffic congestion.
It rewards the fastest and cheapest forestry removals regardless of impacts on biodiversity, landscapes and communities.
Local Government unprepared for impacts of climate change
Over at Newsroom (paywalled) Mark Daalder reports on a study that found that local government entities are woefully under-prepared for the effects of climate change.
…more than half of government departments, councils, state services (including state-owned enterprises, Crown entities and public finance companies) and council-controlled organisations reported they had “limited or no understanding of \[their\] vulnerability to climate change impacts”.
The article notes that climate change was first raised in the New Zealand parliament 35 years ago.
It’s pretty obvious that climate change is not being included as a serious consideration in local government decisions about planning and infrastructure. This is perhaps not surprising when we consider that, as described in yesterday’s post, a collection of small-yet-important tactical safety projects in Auckland are ‘funded only by taking budget from an existing emissions reductions project with a long term commitment.’
And how will Auckland meet these challenges?
But perhaps some encouraging work is starting? Members of the AT Board Wayne Donnelly and Abbie Reynolds, along with Council and Auckland Transport officers presented the draft approach and governance structure for the Transport Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP – great acronym) and the Councillors discussed different options, including how many members should be on the committee.
Videos of the item at the meeting are here and here.
The general tone of the meeting was that a drastic scale of change was required in Auckland’s transport sector over the next decade. This follows the recently-released Regional Land Transport Plan, which failed to reduce emissions because it simply assumed people will be driving in 2031 as much as they are now, per person, and failed to harness many modeshift and travel reduction techniques.
As Todd Niall reported on Stuff:
The committee on Thursday was told Auckland’s emissions profile is very different to the rest of Aotearoa, with road transport, not agriculture, the biggest contributor – accounting for 38.5 per cent.
Donnelly said not everything would require high cost: “We already have a lot of infrastructure for storing and driving cars, so there is an opportunity for conversion.”
Auckland Council plans to release the draft TERP in mid-2022 but there’ll probably be plenty of engagement with stakeholders before then.
Bigger cars, higher emissions
It’s striking how much coverage there has been about private vehicles recently. This story at RNZ underscores the growing narrative about our new-found love of big vehicles. The rapid increase in size and weight of the cars on our roads has led to an inevitable growth in emissions from private transport.
In the last five years, private transport emissions have grown much faster than dairy and manufacturing sector emissions.
Mt Messenger – a Very Big Road for very few cars
Here’s a video of the new Mt Messenger highway. You might have read about Waka Kōtahi attempting fill in native bats’ roosts to force them to relocate out of the way of the works site.
The expected cost of this project has increased to $280m for an average vehicle count of 2500 per day.
Transmission gully’s race to the finish line
And while we’re on the topic of Very Big Roads, parties involved in the beleagured Transmission Gully project (built at a cost of $1.25 billion) are already lining up to figure out who’s to blame if the road doesn’t open as planned at the end of September.
Keen to see a drivethrough of Transmission Gully? In July we invited one of @NZAA's council members for a preview test drive of Transmission Gully. Take in the sights and hear what Jenny thought of the nearly-complete motorway! pic.twitter.com/TQPsHn5ubJ
— Waka Kotahi NZTA Wellington (@WakaKotahiWgtn) August 11, 2021
Have we had enough of Very Big Roads yet?
As mentioned above, during the draft TERP presentation it was noted that – “We already have a lot of infrastructure for storing and driving cars, so there is an opportunity for conversion.”
The big challenge seems to be one of courage – courage to transform the disproportionate amount of square metres in our roads and streets that is used for the storage and movement of cars into something better for us and better for the planet.
Well, time to turn off the tap, I reckon. Even the head of the new Infrastructure Commission says we should be using what we've got more efficiently, rather than building new 'glamour' roads. Lets follow the Welsh, and freeze all new roading projects and focus on reallocation. https://t.co/ZTGmJbSZA0
— Dr Kirsty Wild (@KirstyWildNZ) August 12, 2021
Public transport is king at the ‘greatest place on earth’
Interesting to note that public transport is an integral part of this holiday destination: check out the transit map for Disneyworld. Downthread, the tweet author asks: ‘What makes people prefer taking the bus on vacation versus in their day-to-day lives?’ Good question.
What does “the greatest place on earth” Disney teach us about transit? With over 325 buses, the resort has a larger fleet than the entire city of Orlando! The 12 train-set monorail alone makes it the 16th most ridden transit agency in America, more than AC transit in Oakland. pic.twitter.com/QEDoc3y14Z
— Hayden Clarkin (@the_transit_guy) August 9, 2021
New York Open Streets
With the potential of further lockdowns still very real as we wobble our way into a post-Covid-19 world, there’s still time to use Covid-19 as a way of experimenting with open streets, play streets, car-free streets, and low-traffic neighbourhoods.
Many cities around the world responded to Covid-19 by rapidly and efficiently transforming their streets so that people had more safe space outsidte. The New York Times has a story about an Open Street in Queens, New York City which is the city’s most celebrated example of the strategy, although it’s not without negative effects on the surrounding neighbourhood.
A Parisian summer on two wheels
Paris definitely didn’t have this many people on bikes when I was there in 2019, during a public transport workers’ strike. Change – it can happen fast.
2021 : A Paris Odyssey
"My God, it's full of bikes !" pic.twitter.com/PmrfWRSZB4
— Emmanuel (@EmmanuelSPV) July 7, 2021
Solved: the Capital Gains mystery
It turns out that Capital Gains is actually a physical particle that grows without warning over unsuspecting houses. No cure is as yet known. Read more about the research being done on this pervasive phenomena over at The Civilian.
Workers on the City Rail Link had a breakthrough last week connecting the station excavation being dug down from the surface to the mined platform tunnels at the Mercury Lane end of the station.
Meanwhile the TBM is now about 200m in and expected to arrive at the Karangahape Rd station in about a month.
Discourses of climate delay
To round out by returning to the theme of the week, here’s a helpful illustration of the kinds of arguments for inaction that you might be hearing at the moment. Keep an eye out for these nefarious figures in your organisations, local and central government groups, agencies, and communities. Challenge them at every turn.
Have a good weekend, and see you next week.