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Source: Auckland Council

A billion-dollar package to help tackle the climate crisis will be delivered under Mayor Phil Goff’s final proposal for the Annual Budget 2022/2023, released this morning.

If adopted by Auckland Council’s Governing Body this month, the Climate Action Budget will enable $600 million of new investment in bus services, including 10 new frequent bus routes in the south, west and east of the city, an extension to the frequent service on the Northern Express up to Hibiscus Coast Station, and improvements to nearly 70 existing bus routes region wide.

Hundreds of millions of dollars more will also go towards six to seven new electric and low-emissions ferries, 79 new electric buses or hydrogen buses, completing key links in the city’s cycling network, delivering 35km of improved footpaths and pedestrian crossings to improve walkability, and planting thousands of 1m-1.5m native trees in predominantly low-income areas with low canopy coverage.

Mayor Goff says the Climate Action Budget is an essential starting point to ensure Auckland can meet its climate obligations and leave a positive legacy for future generations.

“In 2019, Auckland Council voted unanimously to declare a Climate Emergency, and the following year we ambitiously adopted Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan. While we have made progress since then, including allocating $152 million to climate initiatives in our 10-year Budget, Auckland is not remotely on track to reaching our target of halving emissions by 2030,” he says.

“The Climate Action Budget gives effect to our Climate Emergency declaration and subsequent climate plan by guaranteeing ringfenced funding to cut emissions, including a more than half-billion-dollar boost to deliver new and more frequent bus services across the region.

“This will mean an extra 170,000 Aucklanders – 10 per cent of the population – will live within 500 metres of a frequent bus route. With over 40 per cent of Auckland’s emissions coming from transport, the fastest and most effective way to reduce emissions is by encouraging mode shift to public transport and active modes.

“Other changes, including accelerating the phasing out of the diesel ferry fleet, which contributes 21 per cent of the emissions from public transport, and building 18 kilometres of safe cycle facilities that will fill critical gaps in the current network, will also help to cut our emissions and provide more and better transport choices for our communities.”

In addition to major investments in public transport, the Climate Action Budget will build on the success of the Mayor’s Million Trees programme by injecting a further $13.3 million into tree planting activities across Auckland, predominantly in low-income areas where canopy coverage is low.

“We will plant thousands of 1m-1.5m native trees on streets, in parks and in road reserves, providing more green space in areas that need it most, particularly in the south of our city,” says Mayor Goff.

The proposed package will be funded by a Climate Action Targeted Rate (CATR), directly generating $574 million over 10 years and seeking to leverage a further $482 million in co-funding from central government and other sources. For a person with a median-value home worth more than $1 million, the CATR will represent a contribution of around $1.12 per week.

“This small contribution will provide significant benefits to all Aucklanders by reducing emissions and pollution, easing congestion, and making the city a greener, more sustainable place to live,” Mayor Goff says.

Other budget measures

A range of other budget measures are proposed to ensure the council’s finances can continue to be managed sustainably in the face of an increasingly challenging operating environment. These include:

  • using the full $127 million of the first tranche of the government’s Three Waters ‘better off’ funding available to Auckland from 1 July 2022. This, with current operating headroom, will enable council to manage operating pressures in 2022/2023 resulting from COVID-19-driven revenue loss projection and increased interest rates and inflation, without material changes to services
  • a capital deferral of $230 million over the next three years, which will ensure that all critical and high-risk projects as well as projects that strongly support growth and climate action are not delayed. Despite the proposed deferral, the average capital investment over the next three years is still $650 million more than the average over the last four years
  • reducing low-priority spending while seeking increased efficiencies in service delivery from 2023/2024 onwards.

“These measures will ensure that council responds prudently to the rapidly evolving and unfavourable global economic factors such as increasing inflation and interest rates that have emerged since the start of 2022,” Mayor Goff says.

“With the current council term coming to its conclusion we have the opportunity to leave Auckland well-placed to respond to the severe threat of climate change while ensuring that the incoming council has options to respond to financial challenges in the medium-term and can continue to deliver the investments necessary to build a world-class and sustainable city.”

Read the full Mayoral Proposal and supporting documents.

MIL OSI