A study of Tauranga pollution levels shows the city’s carbon emissions are higher per person than they are in Auckland.
The report document is a summary PowerPoint presentation that AECOM spoke to when it was first presented to the council recently.
The data shows cars and trucks are the city’s biggest generator of carbon emissions. For the 2015/16 year the city’s population of 128,000 people was emitting 6.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person.
Sixty three per cent of the emissions are transportation emissions, petrol and diesel making up 511,761 tonne of carbon dioxide emissions, and the transportation emissions are 97 per cent road transport – diesel 57 per cent and petrol 40 per cent.
The other big slice of the emissions pie is taken up by stationary energy at 23.6 per cent.
“In terms of the report it shows that Tauranga stands out in the emissions produced from transport,” says Tauranga City Council Environment Committee chairman Steve Morris.
Tauranga transport emissions are high because there’s little public transport, and at the moment it is pretty easy to get around in the city, says Steve. The other reason is the layout, Tauranga’s newer fashioned street layout means there are lots of culs de sac.
“We don’t have those linear streets and everybody doesn’t live off the same main road, it is incredibly difficult to get a bus to near where you live. And secondly you have to walk or drive all around for miles to get to a place, and the bus has to go curling around this way that way rather than straight lines.
“We are still making a rod four our own back in that regard.”
The good news the rise of electric vehicles expected over the next ten years is going to reduce emissions as they replace the internal combustion powered vehicles.
“Because transport emissions are really significant in Tauranga compared to other cities, we have got more scope to reduce that as more electric vehicles come on line, without more intervention by council.”
For the city council the report reinforces the need to make it easier for people to move around the city without always relying on their cars, says city council communication adviser Marcel Currin.
“The benefits would not just be in terms of reducing carbon emissions, but we would also be creating a city that becomes easier for more people of all ages and abilities to move around,” says Marcel.
Tauranga City Council, NZ Transport Agency, Regional Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council are already committed to creating alternative modes of transport, so the question becomes how quickly should that happen. Staff are getting ready to start asking the community this question next month and through next year’s Long Term Plan as part of future transport planning.
The report was commissioned to assist TCC to develop a community carbon footprint, undertaken to help city council staff understand Tauranga’s pollution, says city council communications advisor Marcel Currin.
“We wanted to know how much is being produced and from what sources. This is the first time such a stocktake has been undertaken for the city. It’s the first step to understanding and managing our emissions,” says Marcel.
The information will help councillors and staff understand what actions that can be taken and where efforts should be focussed in order to reduce emissions as a city.
“The results give us a starting point to see where we can make a difference,” says Marcel. “It gives us baseline information to compare ourselves with other cities.”
Council staff are currently working on an environment strategy, and Mayor Greg Brownless is among 46 mayors and regional council chairs who signed the Local Government New Zealand Climate Change Declaration at the recent annual conference.
The declaration asks the New Zealand Government make it a priority to develop and implement an ambitious transition plan for a low carbon and resilient New Zealand.
It stresses the benefits of early action to moderate the costs of adaptation to New Zealand communities. “We are all too aware of challenges we face shoring up infrastructure and managing insurance costs,” says the mayors and chairs.
“These are serious financial considerations for councils and their communities.
“To underpin this plan, we ask that a holistic economic assessment is undertaken of New Zealand’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and of the opportunities and benefits for responding. We believe that New Zealand has much at stake and much to gain by adopting strong leadership on climate change emission reduction targets.”
Tauranga continues to grow quickly, and is exceeding growth forecasts in the two years since the development of the Long Term Plan 2015-2025. It means the council has had to re-prioritise some of Council’s planned investment to be able to build infrastructure in new development areas, and plan for future urban growth areas.
This has been discussed with the community through the last two Annual Plans, and changes have had to be made to planned budgets and work plans to cater for Tauranga’s growth.