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Climate Advocacy Groups Call On Government To Dump Mill Road And Give Effect To Zero Carbon Act

Climate change advocates have joined forces to apply for judicial review of decisions by Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency and the Government to fund and build an expensive and carbon-inducing roading project, Mill Road.

“Youth spent three long years campaigning for the Zero Carbon Act. This is the year we enforce it and hold the Government to account. The Government simply cannot say it is taking the climate emergency seriously and then fund roading projects like Mill Road,” says Generation Zero campaigner, Dewy Sacayan.

Today, a coalition of climate and transport advocacy groups, incorporated under the name All Aboard Aotearoa, filed a judicial review application against Waka Kotahi and the Waka Kotahi Waka Kotahi in the High Court at Wellington. All Aboard Aotearoa is made up of Generation Zero, Lawyers for Climate Action, Bike Auckland, Women in Urbanism, Movement and Greenpeace with one common purpose: decarbonising transport in Aotearoa by 2030.

All Aboard Aotearoa calls on the Government and Waka Kotahi to dump Mill Road, a proposed 21.5 km road through Auckland’s southeast that is scheduled to start construction in late 2022. This four-lane highway will cost $1.4 billion - a whopping $65 million per kilometre - and will significantly increase carbon emissions by inducing more road traffic and enabling urban sprawl.

All Aboard Aotearoa seeks for the High Court to set aside the decisions to fund and build Mill Road because they directly undermine the Crown’s commitments under the Paris Agreement and Zero Carbon Act, and because the Government and Waka Kotahi did not properly consider the greenhouse gas emissions impacts of the project. The project would undermine the country’s efforts to decarbonise, and waste time and money in a climate emergency.

On top of the expensive price tag, Mill Road is included in the latest Auckland Transport Alignment Project, a program that would increase transport emissions by 6% by 2031. “The Government should not be encouraging urban sprawl and locking Aucklanders into an unsustainable system of car dependency,” says Nicholas Lee of Bike Auckland.

With 9 years left to halve our emissions as required under the Paris Agreement and Zero Carbon Act, we must stop building and financing more roads. Every policy, project and funding decision is crucial in ensuring a fair future for generations to come. “Allowing the status quo - climate inaction - is in fact direct action towards an unsustainable future in which our children face severe environmental degradation and exponentially rising costs,” says Jenny Cooper from Lawyers for Climate Action.

The $1.4 billion price tag could instead be invested in making existing streets safer and more resilient for people with disabilities, and for walking and cycling, which would reduce emissions while improving the wellbeing of our communities. “We deserve to have certainty that our Government will only fund projects that move us towards a zero-carbon future. Mill Road is a clear example of the Government violating this commitment. We will fight to have this zero-carbon future become a reality by dumping Mill Road,” says Bruce Kidd, Generation Zero Tāmaki Makaurau Co-convenor.

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