Mark Thomas - New Mayor for Auckland

Mayor’s Climate Change Trip Comes At A Cost

Auckland Mayoral candidate Mark Thomas says the report on Len Brown’s December $27,000 trip to Paris to attend the Climate Change Conference (COP21) confirms what a waste of time and money it was.

“Worrying, the Mayor seems to also have signed Auckland up for more costs while in Paris without considering what this means.”

Auckland Council’s Environment, Climate Change and Natural Heritage Committee will consider the 6 page report at its meeting on Tuesday.

“No new insights are presented in the report and no changes to current plans are indicated. The report indicates there was nothing the Mayor learnt in Paris that we didn’t already know.”

“Instead, we learn the Mayor has signed Auckland up to actually exceeding some of the goals agreed by the 195 countries who signed the Paris Agreement.”

“Although it receives only scant attention in the report, it’s very concerning to read that a “Paris City Hall Declaration” was agreed to by “acclamation” by Len Brown and his colleagues. This “Declaration” commits Auckland to exceeding some of the goals of COP 21 without any analysis of what that means.”

Len Brown also committed Auckland to a goal of an 80% reduction in greenhouses gas emissions by 2050.

“Aucklanders will be surprised to hear this as the current Auckland Plan goal is to reduce emissions by 50% based on 1990 levels by 2050. There has been no discussion within the region about changing this, no thinking on how this might be achieved and what the costs would be.”

Thomas wrote an article in December critical of the Mayor for making the trip. He said he’s not debating the need for Auckland to take action on the agreed effects of climate change but that the biggest climate change results will come from the largest economies in the world (the biggest contributors) agreeing credible plans.

“New Zealand accounts for less than 0.2% of global emissions and obviously Auckland’s contribution is even smaller than that.”

“Despite this, Auckland is already taking action in our biggest emissions areas: road transport, and manufacturing & industrial energy. Significant changes are already happening in transport – such as Auckland’s move to electric trains. Our other key lever around industry is land use and activity planning and we have already made decisions in the draft Unitary Plan in this area which are being considered by the Independent Hearings Panel.”

“As the science and the thinking around climate change action evolves we can stay abreast of this via Skype or email – rather than carbon emitting overseas air travel.”

“The next Mayor of Auckland can make more impact on our region’s climate by spending more time in Auckland, and make some impact on overseas travel budgets at the same time.”

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