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Efeso Collins Pledges To Form Coalition Of Mayors For Climate Action

Given climate change not only poses a serious challenge to Auckland but New Zealand as a whole, mayoral candidate Efeso Collins is pledging to form a Coalition of Mayors For Climate Action.

Collins says it’s vital local councils work closely together on this most pressing of national issues and he is committed to bringing mayors together to do this.

“Auckland is part of an international network of cities tackling climate action, but surprisingly we do not have a network here in New Zealand of mayors in order to share best practice, and also to form a collective voice when it comes to lobbying central government for support on these issues - including calling for the GST on rates to be returned to councils for the purpose of addressing climate change.”

Collins says much like the Mayors’ Taskforce for Jobs, which is a group of 17 Mayors that has been meeting since 2000 to focus on youth unemployment, this coalition could share best practice on early warning systems for extreme weather events; building resilience for businesses and households; and responding to the threat of coastal flooding.

“Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is New Zealand’s biggest city and we have to take a lead on what is potentially New Zealand’s biggest challenge in the coming years,” Collins says.

“By standing alongside other Mayors we will have even more power to speak up for our cities’ best interests, making it more likely we secure greater financial resources and advice from central government.”

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This policy has also been welcomed by other leading local government voices. Former Auckland deputy mayor and Waitakere City Council deputy mayor Penny Hulse says such a coalition will allow Auckland to play a leadership role on the key issue of our time.

"We need to accelerate climate action in creative ways, and Efeso Collins' proposal for an Auckland-led coalition of mayors is in my view a great idea to fast-track climate action,” Hulse says.

"We have the C40 international network, and business networks, but there's no domestic mayoral taskforce, and so this courageous policy move fills an important gap.”

Editors Notes

Call 0221697037 to arrange an interview with Efeso Collins.

Coalition of Mayors for Climate Action 

Background / Context

· Auckland is part of an international network of cities taking climate action: the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group

· Auckland Council is also part of a CEO-led coalition of business groups leading action on climate change, the Climate Leaders Coalition

· Surprisingly there is no national network of mayors for climate action

· The new Coalition of Mayors for Climate Action that I will launch will fill this gap

Auckland’s Existing Climate Commitments

· Under Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri, Auckland’s Climate Plan, we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, and achieve net zero by 2050

· Auckland Council has also declared a climate emergency and adopted a Climate Action Targeted Rate

· But we now need to move further on nationwide climate action

Structure of the Coalition

· Auckland can share lessons with other cities, allowing other cities to learn from Auckland’s success; but other cities can also share best practice; and together cities can agree on demands to make to central government

· I will chair meetings of the Coalition of Mayors for Climate Action, helping to set the agenda of meetings drawing on input from others, and leading the direction of the Coalition

· I would propose that the meetings are convened quarterly

· Costs can be limited (since meetings can be done online / on Zoom) and can draw on existing staff capacity

Potential Areas of Action

· There is a range of areas that the Coalition could focus on, and the focus areas would depend on the priorities of the members of the Coalition; but the areas might include:

(a) Public transport: pooling experience on how lowering fares and expanding public transport networks can be done most effectively to reduce emissions

(b) Waste management: providing valuable information on how waste management can be done in a more climate-friendly way, including through lowering landfill emissions

(c) Ecofarming: supporting farmers in the transition to a greener economy, and ensuring Mayors and councils are aware of how they can support this transition

(d) Greening infrastructure: raising awareness of ways to improve urban ngahere (forests), ways to introduce street trees, approaches to maintaining wetlands (possibly led by local Māori)

(e) Climate-friendly procurement: working with other councils to determine how procurement can be done in a way that supports a just transition, including consistently with any legal constraints

(f) Early warning systems for extreme weather hazards: sharing mechanisms that can alert communities to floods, storms, droughts, heatwaves and fires, at the earliest stage, to ensure households and businesses are well prepared

(g) Responses to coastal flooding: ensuring councils are well-placed to identify risks and respond effectively to coastal flooding

(h) Effective relationships with the Climate Change Commission: the Coalition could ensure councils and Mayors are getting the right information and advice from the Climate Change Commission

(i) Demands for greater resourcing from government: Mayors can join forces to demand focused central government support for particular climate action, for example to fund lower fares for public transport; one demand will also be the return from central government of GST charged on rates.

· These areas of action include areas of climate mitigation, climate adaptation, lesson-learning, and demands on central government and related agencies

What’s In It for Auckland and Aucklanders

· Sharing policy tools across Mayors can give us shortcuts to better climate action and better thinking that reduces costs for households and businesses

· Smart climate action now, to make our city more resilient, will reduce costs down the track, which we might incur if we’re not properly prepared for climate change

· Standing alongside other Mayors we will have even more power to speak up for our cities’ best interests, making it more likely we secure greater financial resources and advice from central government

· Meeting quarterly with Mayors around the country can help to cement relationships, so I can pick up the phone more quickly when we need to be in contact about other pressing priorities

· Positioning Auckland as a leader on climate action can help to strengthen our reputation as a home for sustainable business and communities

The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs: An Example of What’s Possible

· A group of 17 Mayors and LGNZ meets quarterly to focus on youth unemployment, partnering with organisations

· The taskforce has operated since 2000, when it began with 7 Mayor, and has secured concrete outcomes: including placing over 1300 youth and COVID-displaced workers into employment in 2021

· The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs provides a model for the Coalition of Mayors for Climate Action; it shows the value of local action and has developed strong data (including a Youth Employability Dashboard) for Mayors to use to address unemployment

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