The “Campaign for Better Transport” have long been advocates for better transport networks & commuters. Last Wednesday they held a candidate’s debate & the NZ Climate Party presented a strong message.
Transport improvements need to go well beyond just the proposed city loop. Sydneysiders make around 9 times more suburban trips as Aucklanders, per capita. Developing better cycling options, better public transport and in particular a better train system is a win-win-win way forward.
Better Transport for Auckland: NZ Climate Party
Spokesperson, Peter Whitmore
A group of us started the climate party because it is now very well understood that climate change poses a threat to our whole way of life, and even to our ability to live on this planet. To hold this threat at what might be a manageable level of 2 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels, as world leaders have agreed, scientists tell us that global emissions need to drop to 40 to 70% below 2010 levels by 2050, and to near zero by 2100.
Our government has set a target to reduce New Zealand’s emissions to 50% below 1990 levels by 2050, but in fact our emissions are still increasing and the government’s own data shows this increase continuing out to at least 2030, which is as far as their projections go.
A major reason we are still going in the wrong direction is that our emissions trading scheme, which is supposed to be the main driving force for reducing our emissions, has degenerated into a farce.
While a UK government report of 2006 put the cost of the damage done by emitting a tonne of CO2 into the atmosphere at $NZ100, polluters under our emissions trading scheme have recently been paying under $5 and as little as 15 cents. This is a bit like road rules set up so that if someone runs into your car and causes $100 of damage, they are only have to pay you 15 cents in compensation.
When it comes to transport, regardless of how much we care about Auckland being a pleasant, liveable city, where it is easy to get around, we still need to improve Auckland’s transport system because transport accounts for more than 40% of our non-agricultural emissions. One train line can carry as many people as 4-5 highway lanes, or even up to 10 highway lanes if the train network is well developed. And one of our new three-car electric trains can carry as many people as around 250 vehicles, though larger trains with greater capacity could carry as many people as around 750 vehicles. With trains powered by electricity from renewable resources, the emissions compared to everyone going by car are tiny.
Our transport improvements need to go well beyond just the proposed city loop. We also need train services to other parts of the city such as the North Shore and the airport area, as has been recently proposed by Generation Zero and The Campaign for Better Transport in their “Congestion Free Network”. The Auckland Council attempted to achieve the same vision almost 50 years ago, in the late 1960’s when Sir Dove-Myer Robinson was mayor, but could not win government support. This shows just how far behind the eight ball we are.
Sydneysiders, whose trains are more frequent, more reliable and service a greater portion of the city than in Auckland, make around nine times as many suburban trips per capita as we do. They could use their own cars to commute if they wanted, but many choose not to because the trains work better for them.
Developing better cycling options, better public transport and in particular a better train system is a win-win-win way forward. Many people will be able to save time and money by leaving their cars at home. We can start reducing the almost $7 billion a year we currently spend on fossil fuel imports – almost half what we earn from our dairy exports. And we can start making serious reductions in our transport-related emissions.
Climate Party were only given a brief speaking slot, but the message came across well. Many people in the audience seemed to be on the same wavelength.
What do you think of Auckland’s transport & how it affects climate? Add your comment now.