Auckland Council will decide today whether to join a global movement and declare a climate change emergency.

While it would be a symbolic move, council staff say it would "underscore the urgency and importance of taking action on climate change".

The council would join Environment Canterbury, Christchurch City Council and Nelson City Council in New Zealand, which all made declarations in May, and hundreds of local governments across the globe, as well as the United Kingdom and Irish parliaments.

While a declaration had no statutory or legal implications, it would likely increase the visibility of Auckland's political commitment to leadership on climate action, which includes being a member of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, with commitments to limit global warming to 1.5C.

Advertisement

The Environment and Community Committee will consider the declaration, as requested by chair Penny Hulse, during its meeting at 9.30am today.

Protesters during the school strike urged Auckland Council to declare a climate emergency. Photo / File
Protesters during the school strike urged Auckland Council to declare a climate emergency. Photo / File

The committee had been previously addressed by the Extinction Rebellion group about making a climate emergency declaration, alongside other community movements, such as the large scale protests and "strikes" that have seen thousands of young people participate in New Zealand and across the globe.

Council staff noted in the agenda climate change presented "significant challenges and risks", particularly on the most vulnerable people and communities.

Effects like sea level rise and flooding impacts were already being felt, and these impacts were expected to increase.

READ MORE:

Extreme heat, disease and rising seas: how climate change threatens Auckland
Māori burial grounds under threat from rising seas increasing storm events
Climate change plan: Government unveils details of ambitious Zero Carbon Act

In the agenda, council staff wrote Auckland Council already demonstrated leadership in the face of climate change, and not declaring a climate emergency could result in a "perception of or reputational risk in not acknowledging the urgency of acting on climate change".

Across the globe hundreds of local governments had declared such emergencies, including at least 17 in Australia, 96 in the United Kingdom, 382 in Canada, and 16 in the United States.

Ahead of the decision, councillors would hear submissions from Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Rosie Gee, the Climate Conscious Mana Rangatahi Summit, Te Ora o Manukau and Environmental Youth Leaders for Para Kore Ki Tāmaki.

During the meeting councillors would also decide on approving the draft Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland's Climate Action Framework and summary document for public consultation.

Emissions modelling had shown between 2009 and 2016, overall emissions increased by 5.6 per cent. If that trend continued, Auckland's emissions would increase by 27.7 per cent by 2050.

Auckland Council's Environment and Community Committee chair Penny Hulse is calling on her fellow councillors to declare a climate emergency. Photo / File
Auckland Council's Environment and Community Committee chair Penny Hulse is calling on her fellow councillors to declare a climate emergency. Photo / File

To reach net zero carbon by 2050, as proposed under the Government's Zero Carbon Bill, Auckland would need to "sharply decrease" its emissions over the next 10 years.

A NIWA report commissioned to carry out climate projections to 2110 for Auckland, showed Auckland's mean annual temperature was rising, coastlines were and would be impacted by ongoing sea level rise, and rainfall patterns and extremes were changing.

The draft framework proposed 11 "key moves" to deliver a "net-zero emissions, climate resilient" Tāmaki Makaurau.

These included: enhance ecosystem services and connectivity; make development and infrastructure climate-compatible; shift to decentralised renewable energy; transform existing buildings and places; deliver clean, efficient and accessible mobility options; future-proof communities and empower individual action; enable a just transition to a zero carbon, climate resilient economy; grow a low-carbon, resilient food system; youth and intergenerational equity; resilient Māori communities; and lay the foundation for success.

These would be carried out over three phases: "Transition" from 2019-23, "Acceleration" from 2023-2030, and "Transformation" from 2030-2050.

It was proposed public consultation would commence July 9 and run for four weeks.