The international leader of a climate change organisation has told Aucklanders they will be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2040.
Auckland has been a member of the climate change and sustainability networking organisation, C40 Cities, since December last year.
The organisation’s executive director Mark Watts spoke at the Auckland Council Conversations series at the Aotea Centre on Tuesday night, and said he is confident Auckland will meet their obligations before monitoring begins after the first year of membership.
“I don’t think there is any doubt,” said Mr Watts of the city’s emission aims when speaking to Te Waha Nui after the public talk.
Auckland Council aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent based on 1990 levels by 2040, a target which sits near the middle of the C40 pack.
“I’d say it’s in the mid-range of ambitions. The most ambitious cities, like Vancouver for example, have a carbon-neutral target. Many have ‘80 per cent reduction by 2050’ type targets, but then, a lot of [C40 cities] at the other end have less ambitious targets.”
Auckland’s ‘Innovator’ status means they will have the remainder of the year to meet certain requirements, which include completing a city profile on the C40 website, and posting at least two case studies or implementation examples.
“Part of the reason for this visit is to set up a memorandum of understanding and to discuss what the participation standards are, and start the process,” said Mr Watts. “So it will have been a year’s time before we get through that sort of monitoring.”
C40 is entirely funded through philanthropy, which means member cities are not required to pay any joining fee.
Leroy Beckett, Auckland Director at Generation Zero, said he is glad the city has joined the organisation.
“If we don’t take action, if we don’t stop sprawling, it’s going to be bad PR,” said Mr Beckett. “If we get kicked out of C40 because we’re not taking action, that’s a terrible sight. It’s not a risk you would take if you weren't actually committed to it politically.”
Mr Beckett said he felt positive about what had been said at the meeting, and that the future for Auckland action on climate change is looking bright.
“Everyone in this room broadly agrees that we need more people on bikes, that we need better transport, that we need better housing. Now we have people coming in to show us how to do it. So it’s really, really exciting.”
One of the seven councillors on the Auckland Development Committee who opposed joining C40 at the end of last year is Orakei Ward Councillor Cameron Brewer, who described the organisation as “some trendy club” and their activities as “talkfests”.
“We’ve got so much work to do in Auckland so flying around the world, burning jet fuel, and promoting some international club is not a priority for ratepayers,” said Mr Brewer.
Mr Watts said his message to the new mayoral candidates for Auckland is a simple one.
“The most successful cities in the world will be the ones that are the first to get themselves firmly on a low carbon development pathway.
“So embrace it, see it as an opportunity for economic development, for development in living standards, and actually, don’t see this as something that is a burden.”