Climate action is ramping up

This month the government’s half price public transport fare policy kicked in to make it easier for people to get around. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, covid impacts and supply chain issues have pushed petrol to record prices here and overseas which has made it tough for families and individuals who have no choice but fill up their cars at a higher cost.

As we move forward there will be more of these international shocks, and they will get worse with climate change. It’s clear we need to urgently fund and provide more walking, cycling, public transport options. People need more options and alternatives to driving so they can choose to rely less on petrol and move around their communities safely.

Increasing public transport use, along with walking and cycling, helps reduce congestion, improves our air quality, reduces contaminants in our stormwater and of course reduces emissions. These alternatives help us become a healthier society too.

I know many of you travel by car every day, but when you consider over 50% of all vehicle trips in Auckland are under 6km, if we all changed the way we travel even once a week what a big difference that would make.

Our system isn’t perfect, but it was only a few years ago we increased public transport services on the Shore by 40%, we made buses to the ferry free and significantly increased the use of double-deckers.

For those who still need to drive there will need to be a faster shift to electric or low emission vehicles. The UK, Europe and other parts of the world are banning the production and import of diesel and petrol vehicles starting in just eight years time. We have to plan for this, as the auto industry will not provide vehicles for small markets like New Zealand.

As chair of Auckland Council’s Environment and Climate Change Committee I led Te Tāruke ā Tāwhiri - Auckland’s Climate Plan, which was strongly supported by local residents and received unanimous support from Councillors.  To comply with our international obligations, we need to reduce transport emissions by 64% by 2030 however a recent council report told us that we are not remotely tracking in line with our climate targets.

There has been progress, but we know we need to do more. Recently Auckland Council consulted on a billion-dollar climate package to improve bus and ferry services, electrify our fleet, plant more mature street trees where they’re most needed, and deliver walking and cycling improvements.  

For our community, the proposed Climate Action Package will electrify our inner harbour ferries, fund bus service improvements across the Shore, and mean more of our residents will have access to safer walking and cycling options. The public submissions showed strong support on the Shore for this to happen and councillors will vote on the final package in June.

Tāmaki Makaurau will need to lead the way in emissions reduction. So please as we move out of the omicron peak and we travel to work more, go out and visit family more, maybe try some of that half price transport and see if it’s a viable option for you to help our climate.