Scott & Sarah Kennedy

Friday, March 28, 2014

Auckland's Low Carbon Action Plan

It's been a long time since I've been fired up enough to write something here, but it's finally happened. I saw in the Manukau Courier that submissions were being taken on Auckland City's Low Carbon Action Plan. No I hadn't heard of it either. Well the article informed me that the plan was to reduce Auckland's Greenhouse gases by 40% by 2040.
I became interested. Firstly it struck me as an odd target to make, when month by month the science around anthropogenic climate change is looking shakier. Such huge cost to our economy seems odd when the benefits to the environment seem highly unlikely. Why would we commit to this?
So I decided to check out the website. There was a nice brief 85 page document with a large number of action plans. Seriously who has time for that? Nice that some person being paid rate money (i.e. a net drain on the economy) can afford the time to put together such a document. Pity the poor sap who actually contributes to the economy who has to read through it.
I did read through it. I was appalled. You should be too. Can I strongly suggest to citizens of Auckland that you read this plan, or at least the Executive Summary which is only 25 pages. Once you have read this plan, make a quick online submission.
Below are some highlights from my submission.
Question 3A: You have indicated that you don't think we have identified the key issues. What issues do you think we have missed?

I believe that the whole goal of reducing Greenhouse gases by 40% is fatally flawed. First of all the science regarding the harm of these gases is inconclusive, and the evidence that GHG actually have a detrimental effect on our climate is looking shakier by the year. Why are we reducing energy consumption, when consumption of energy suggests a pumping economy. Surely a city that has an economy moving in a positive direction should actually be increasing energy consumption, not reducing it back to levels of the 1990s.

Question 5A: You have indicated that you don't think we have identified appropriate targets. What targets do you believe we should set?

I do not believe we should be setting targets in this area. These targets will lead to increasing burdens on the people of Auckland.

Example 1: Built Environment action 8 proposes a WOF on private rentals. While this will produce a nice income stream for the council, which presumably is the reason for its suggested implementation, the costs will be passed on by landlords to their tenants. Rents will increase affecting struggling families.
Example 2: Action 3 of the Travel plan suggests that pricing tools will be investigated to help manage travel demand. This sounds suspiciously like making it more expensive for people to travel freely about their city in their own cars. Aucklanders do not support this.
Example 3: Actions 6 & 7 of the Energy part of the plan suggest that we move 90% of Auckland's energy to renewable sources by 2025. While this sounds nice in theory, I noticed the plan mentioned wind energy. Wind energy is extremely costly in the long run, with physical breakdown of turbines. Furthermore wind energy is responsible for playing havoc with birdlife, and is not a 'green' option in that sense.
In action 7 you propose to promote the use of renewable energy for heating and cooking at residential and commercial premises. With whose money? Presumably rate payers. Surely people should be free to decide what energy they use and not be brainwashed by campaigns that have taken their own money off them to make them change their behaviour!

Example 4: Action 9 of the Built Environment part of the plan proposes the introduction of disclosure of the energy and water performance and design standards of residential, commercial and industrial buildings at point of sale, rent or lease. It is proposed this is going to be mandatory by 2020. Again one can only presume this is going to cost money, and the council will clip the ticket on the way increasing its income stream. But all of these types of proposals are only just going to make Auckland a more and more unaffordable place to live.
I do not have the time to pick holes in every single action point of the document. I actually work a job that produces something of worth for the economy. My essential problem with this plan is that it is placing more controls and costs on the citizens of Auckland. Instead of Mayor Len Brown's dream of Auckland becoming the world's most liveable city, we will end up with an unaffordable city.

Question 6B: What else do you think we could be doing?
Less is more......The city doesn't need people running around thinking of ways to spend money we do not have.

Question 6C: How should these actions in this plan be funded?
Most of these actions (specifically the ones I have identified) should not be taken because ultimately they do not need to be taken and will place a huge burden on Aucklanders.


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