A guest post from Councillor Shane Henderson on some momentous moves for the city, and for the West in particular.
This week, we committed the people of Auckland to halve greenhouse gas emissions within ten years. This is necessary, but it’s going to be bloody hard.
I am delighted to note that in my ward of Waitākere, two projects have been announced that save carbon emissions and help people get around easier in the West.
Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri Auckland’s Climate Plan sets an interim goal to halve Auckland’s emissions by 2030, and to reach net zero emissions by 2050. It will require brave action and large investment to achieve this lofty goal.
The problem really for Aucklanders is road transport. Travel by road pumps carbon into the air at an alarming rate here: it is around 44 per cent of the region’s current emissions.
Just to meet our 2030 climate goals, we need to cut 68 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions currently produced by transport. The total amount of road vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT) must fall by at least 12 per cent, and public transport trips must be at least 24.5 per cent of all trips. Currently, public transport share sits at a meagre 8 per cent.
Heading off a climate apocalypse will be no small feat.
All hope is not lost, and in my backyard of Te Atatū over the weekend two major projects were announced by the Government which will make a huge difference. The projects – Te Whau Pathway and the Northwestern Bus Improvements – will provide excellent options for West Aucklanders to decarbonise their journeys.
A $100 million project, the Northwestern Bus Improvements will create bus priority along the motorway shoulders to give people a dedicate rapid transit route from Westgate to the city, saving residents 35 minutes on their commute. It’ll be a fast, frequent trip.
I have long stated that the Northwest is in transport poverty, and too many residents find themselves stuck in traffic to get to work rather than spending that time with their families. The carbon emissions reductions will be significant, and the public health benefits will be huge.
Also announced is funding of $37m to a coastal walk and cycleway along the Whau River, connecting New Lynn to Te Atatū Peninsula. When finished, this will link both the Manukau and Waitematā harbours with around 11 kilometres of path that connects to 33 reserves, esplanade reserves, sports parks, and numerous entry points.
I visited New Plymouth recently and saw first-hand how their coastal path was so well-used. It forms the spine of that city, a strong commuting option and a beloved destination. We’re going to do likewise in the West.
So these are great projects, but what next? I have been pushing with the local community to try and get a public bus service to Piha started. If we are serious about reducing emissions, it’s not good enough to have no other real way of visiting a major attraction like Piha except for private car.
You too may have some new ways of thinking. We can all be a part of the solution, choosing active modes like walking and cycling, taking public transport when you can, and thinking about how we can all do better. I’d love for you to send me your ideas, and let’s head off this climate apocalypse together.
— Shane Henderson, Councillor for Waitākere ward