Auckland expects that we will work together to play our part in meeting the national goal of significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation), and that we will improve energy efficiency, resilience and security and our capacity to adapt to climate change (adaptation).
Ko te aro whakaaro o Tāmaki Makaurau ka mahi tātou ki a tātou, hei mahi whakaheke te hāparapara o te rohe whānui, kātahi ka piki te oranga, ka mau te mārohirohi me ō mātou waia ki tēnei kaupapa
470_ Our climate is changing globally, regionally and locally. The impacts, already evident, are expected to be even more severe in the future. Although climate change poses risks and uncertainties for Auckland, it also offers opportunities.
471_ Aucklanders have always faced climate-related risks such as heat waves, droughts and tropical storms. While climate change is a natural process, there is now a strong scientific consensus that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities, particularly the use of fossil fuels, are causing the climate to change at unprecedented rates. Climate change can be defined as “a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is, in addition to natural climate variability, observed over comparable time periods.”47
472_ Despite growing global efforts to reduce GHG emissions, some climate change is inevitable. Auckland could encounter a range of effects, including changes to temperature and rainfall patterns, more frequent and intense weather events, and accelerated sea-level rise (See Box 8.1).
473_ The risks associated with these climate changes are likely to be wide and far-reaching. Auckland could be affected in three key ways:
- reduced performance of infrastructure and industries directly affected by changes in climate conditions or damaging extreme events
- adverse impacts on biodiversity, natural resources, productivity or changes in market demands for goods and services
- individuals and communities affected by extreme weather, scarce resources and affordability of those resources, health impacts, or migration.
474_ While the projected long-term effects of climate change will become more pronounced in the future, the immediate effects (and our subsequent responses) already pose significant risks and opportunities.
475_ Tackling climate change requires significant reductions in global GHG emissions to reduce the causes and severity of climate change (referred to as ‘mitigation’). We must also develop ways to effectively protect and increase Auckland’s resilience to withstand and recover from the adverse effects of a changing climate, (referred to as ‘adaptation’).
476_ New Zealand’s contribution to global emissions is relatively small. Nevertheless, cities world-wide are taking a leadership role and Auckland is committed to playing its part.
477_ Increasingly stringent international policy affects New Zealand, and may impact upon the marketability of our products and services in key economic sectors and export industries including tourism and agriculture. For example, rising ‘climate awareness’ (and misinformation in some overseas consumer markets about the concept of ‘food miles’) risks undermining the popularity of New Zealand produce.
478_ New Zealand is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and has committed to a long-term aspirational goal of reducing New Zealand’s net emissions to 50% of 1990 levels by 2050, as well as a short-term target of between 10% and 20% below 1990 levels by 2020.* This Plan sets a target for Auckland to achieve a 40% reduction in GHG emissions by 2040 (based on 1990 levels). It has also set the same short- and long-term goals as the Government.
* This commitment is conditional on a global agreement being secured that limits carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) to 450ppm and temperature increases to 2°C, effective rules on forestry, and New Zealand having access to international carbon markets.
479_ Achieving these targets will be challenging. While Auckland’s GHG emissions profile (see Figure 8.1) is different from the rest of New Zealand, trends for both show overall increases. This is largely due to a growth in energy emissions, particularly from electricity generation and transport.
480_ In Auckland, electricity use (stationary energy) and transport are the primary emitters of GHGs and are forecast to increase their emissions (see Figure 8.2). Nationally, agriculture produces a far larger proportion of emissions, with transport accounting for approximately 20% of the total. Growth projections imply that without long-term energy management Auckland will become increasingly reliant on imported energy supplies, and vulnerable to increases in the cost of energy.
481_ While internationally energy is one of the main contributors to GHG emissions, New Zealand already has one of the highest proportions of renewable electricity in the world.
482_ Ongoing technological development and research will give a greater understanding of the risks, uncertainties and opportunities that climate change poses for our economy, environment and way of life. Transitioning to a low-carbon society which can adapt to a changing climate, requires a comprehensive and integrated policy response, and clear and decisive actions.
483_ While there is uncertainty about the timing and exact nature of the impacts of climate change and the costs associated with taking action, the scientific and economic consensus (notably The Stern Review48 into The Economics of Climate Change) about climate change tells us that the costs of inaction will be far greater.49
484_ Cities and urban areas are estimated to account for 80% of global GHG emissions. In response, cities around the world are leading the way in transitioning to a low-carbon future. Auckland has the skills and capacity to do the same.
485_ Auckland Council recognises the urgency of these critical and interrelated energy and climate change issues. Success in achieving our GHG reduction targets will depend on action by everyone. Auckland Council is committed to working with central government, business and local communities to identify the best policies and approaches to ensure we are ready to deal with the risks, uncertainties and opportunities associated with critical climate change and energy issues.
BOX 8.1 Direct Impacts on Auckland of Climate Change50
Based on current knowledge, and under moderate projections, it is likely over the next century that Auckland could experience:
- hotter average temperatures increasing between: 0.2°C and 2.5°C by 2040, and 0.6°C and 5.8°C by 2090; (this compares to a temperature increase in New Zealand during the last century of about 0.7°C)
- an additional 40-60 days per year where maximum temperatures exceed 25 °C, and more evaporation
- lower average annual rainfall patterns (decreasing between -1% and -3% by 2040, to -3% and -5% by 2090)
- more drought conditions: By 2080, drought with a severity that is currently only encountered on average every 20 years, could occur as often as every five years51
- more extreme weather events with more frequent heavy rainfall events and more frequent westerly winds
- a rise in sea level of 18-59 cm between 1990 and 2100 and higher storm surge and waves. A recent study for Auckland52 suggests a range of possible sea-level futures of 0.5m – 1.5m by 2100 (see Box 8.3).