7 Dec 2015

Is Auckland Council meeting its green goals?

12:02 pm on 7 December 2015

ANALYSIS: The Auckland Council's mayoral-led delegation returns this week from the COP21 climate change conference in Paris and will no doubt bring news of new alliances and partnerships.

Auckland's Mayor Len Brown launching public consultation on the city's Long Term Plan.

The Auckland Council deleglation to COP21 was led by mayor Len Brown. Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

Greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions begin at home though, and the council family of organisations has plenty of small steps easily taken, to help achieve its own goal of a 40 percent cut by 2040.

The council's first annual scorecard on the "Low Carbon Auckland" strategy shows no reduction yet, but there is pride in a four-year flat-lining of emissions while the population grew by 5 percent.

Read Low Carbon Auckland A Year in Action (PDF, 1.6MB)

The council needs to ensure though that it applies the low carbon test to its own decision-making, and here's two small but telling examples of where that is not yet happening...

Mayor Len Brown is pictured in the strategy scorecard, posing with an electric car in Auckland Council livery. It's a stark contrast to his own choice of mayoral transport, a gas-guzzling Holden Commodore.

The mayor fancies the black V6 Holden Commodore Calais, and is now onto his third during his one term at Manukau City, and two at Auckland Council.

He took delivery of his latest six-cylinder Holden, just weeks after the launch last year of Low Carbon Auckland. RNZ News then compared his choice with other more environmentally friendly options.

The mayoral car has a carbon footprint 40 percent bigger than a Toyota Camry hybrid, and uses nearly twice as much fuel as a Skoda Superb diesel.

"I tend to have a number of councillors and community members with me at any one time, and of course I've got three daughters and a grandson, so we need a normal family-type car," he said at the time.

Council agency Auckland Transport is not applying the low carbon test to all of its work either.

A seemingly minor decision to alter an intersection leading out of the Westgate shopping centre, will add a small truckload of carbon to the city's footprint this year.

For a decade, buses leaving Westgate transport hub for the CBD, North Shore or Hobsonville, used a bus-priority traffic light, giving them a right-turn straight onto Hobsonville Road.

Following the opening of a new commercial centre opposite Westgate, Auckland Transport planners decided the bus right-turn would inconvenience traffic on a busier Hobsonville Road, and put the buses on a 1km detour out the back of the shopping centre.

AT's own staff calculated for RNZ that this detour, multiplied by the number of bus services affected over the course of a year, would add 4.9 tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere.

As the council's Low Carbon Auckland update notes: "Given the sheer breadth and scale of change required, success demands the action of ALL 1.5 million Aucklanders."

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