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Auckland’s low carbon plan a promising step

Auckland’s low carbon plan a promising step towards a healthy city

Health professionals concerned about climate change have congratulated the Auckland Council for adopting a low carbon action plan, but encourage the Council to rapidly go further.

“It’s great that Auckland Council has realised that reducing its carbon footprint is crucial to becoming a liveable city and supporting the wellbeing of its citizens”, says Dr Rhys Jones, co-convenor of OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council. “However we believe the plan could and should be more ambitious with its overall targets.”

“Auckland Council’s overall target for emissions reduction – 40% by 2040 – is too low and too slow”, says Dr Jones. “To play our part in the global response to climate change, Auckland, as New Zealand’s largest city, should be aiming for near to zero carbon by the middle of this century. This is 100% possible, especially as Auckland’s emissions mainly come from transport and energy use.”

Back in 2009, almost quarter of a million New Zealanders signed on for a target of 40% reduction of 1990 levels by 2020 as our fair share of global emissions reductions. Five years later, the need to reduce carbon is even more urgent. “The world’s expert climate scientists tell us that we need to rapidly move towards a low or zero emissions economy if we are to avoid overheating the planet with massive negative impacts for human health”, says Dr Jones.

Comparable cities with high quality of life, like Vancouver and Copenhagen, have far more ambitious targets and are taking positive steps to achieve them. “To give a sense of what is possible, Copenhagen plans to be carbon-neutral by 2025”, says Dr Jones.

“While there are excellent targets and specific actions to achieve low energy, healthy housing in the Plan, the conservative targets and lack of specific actions for transport are particularly disappointing”, says Dr Jones. “Transport is where most of our emissions come from in Auckland.”

Despite the positive steps announced recently to triple its cycling budget, Auckland is missing out on huge opportunities to improve health and reduce carbon emissions by creating a low energy, walking and cycling focused transport system. That would mean a more active and productive population with less obesity, diabetes and heart disease, as well as cleaner air, safer streets and fairer access to jobs and healthcare.

“The Low Carbon Plan is a great start. However we know Auckland can do even better to secure a healthy, fair and sustainable future”, ends Dr Jones.

ENDS


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