Apparently I'm bonkers. Just one of the many things I got called last week for suggesting companies should close their staff car parks.
It would, I proposed, be a great way to reduce carbon emissions, because it would remove the main reason so many people drive to work. Especially people who live within a few kilometres of the city centre, have access to good public transport and cycle lanes and have no good reason at all to drive.
I said people who need a park could keep it, including women working at night, those without other options and those with mobility issues. But that's not most people.
So I'm bonkers. The core reason, I think, is that I'm proposing something that would make life less convenient. We have very busy lives and driving makes them possible. End of story.
Meanwhile, the reports arrive daily. A study quoted in the Washington Post found that the world bounced out of 2020 Covid lockdowns with a five per cent rise in electricity-related emissions. So much for making the most of the crisis and building back better.
We've just had our warmest winter on record, beating the previous record, set last year. And as we know, warmest also means wettest and wildest. Europe's had its hottest summer. Madagascar is entering a climate-related famine. Research out of Cornell University reveals global farming productivity is 21 per cent lower than it probably would have been without climate change.
Last month the IPCC published its first scientific review since 2013, with UN secretary general António Guterres calling it "code red". We're on track to pass 1.5 degrees of warming by 2040, we're closer than expected to irreversible tipping points like arctic ice sheets melting, and we now know that methane is responsible for a quarter of all global warming.
And last Tuesday the Government released its new National Land Transport Plan (NLTP): a list of projects that will be funded by the Government and local authorities in the three years to 2024.
Transport Minister Michael Wood was very clear about its climate-related goals: "We know we have to keep driving down emissions and congestion," he said.
He called it "a step change": there's a 40 per cent increase in public transport, walking and cycling, "compared to the previous three years". Freight haulage is addressed too, with $1.3 billion allocated to railways improvements and $30 million to coastal shipping.
Clearly, Wood is making a difference. He's the first transport minister in the climate crisis era you can say that about. But the plan is not a step change. On the contrary, it locks in the idea that we can address this crisis incrementally.
National's new transport spokesman, David Bennett, called it "anti-road" and "politically biased" towards public transport. But as the table shows, the Government and its transport agency Waka Kotahi have not abandoned the old focus on roads.
It's striking how true this still is. We're going to spend five times as much on new and improved roads as we will to improve the railways, and nearly seven times as much as we will on new cycleways and walkways.
Maintaining the roads will cost us almost three times as much as running public transport.
And the NLTP also reveals that roads do not pay for themselves through petrol taxes and other road user charges, as is commonly argued. There's a shortfall of $3.2 billion, which has to come from general revenue.
Those billions are a subsidy from the general taxpayer, and the amount is about the same as will be spent running public transport and building more cycleways.
The new plan contains almost no increase for public transport running costs, except for the extra services that will be laid on in Auckland when the City Rail Link opens. That suggests no cheaper fares or increased frequencies for buses, trains or ferries.
Wood's "40 per cent increase" is largely capital spending on new projects like the Eastern Busway that won't be ready within the three-year term. But even there, astonishingly, the NLTP prescribes a two-year delay in the completion of that project.
Cycling gets a better deal, in a way, but that's partly because there's a catchup after cycleway spending collapsed in recent years.
This was especially true in Auckland under the negligent watch of Auckland Transport. There is now a commitment to finish the city's Urban Cycleway Projects, which was supposed to happen in 2018.
This will help with some key arterial routes, but it's unlikely to include networks around town centres or cycling across the harbour.
The awful fact is, we're stuck. Every time anyone proposes we change our transport setup, it's all "bonkers" and "political bias". Governments and councils are scared to move faster; often, they don't even think they should.
People like me respond by arguing that when transport is better for the climate it will also be better for us. Fewer cars and less space on the road for them, better public transport and more safe cycling will improve our lives, our economy and our health, both mental and physical. I believe this.
But whether it's true is irrelevant. Because of the climate crisis, we have to change, whether we like it or not.
It definitely will be less convenient for many people to leave the car at home. But so will lots of things. Go ask the people who've been flooded out this year what they think about convenience.
In all sorts of ways, we will not be able to keep living as we do.
This means a genuinely valuable transport strategy right now wouldn't boast about how much we're doing already. Nor would it sink billions into new infrastructure while forgetting about the tens of millions it could spend on bigger fare subsidies.
Instead, it would kickstart a comprehensive audit of the suburbs and streets of every city. The goal: to work out how to convert the public space of roads in favour of public transport, linear parks, cycling and walking, play areas, market stalls and other public use. With less room for cars.
There would be a "public transport for all" strategy, with cheaper fares and short-term solutions for now, while we wait for that longer-term rapid transit to arrive.
Freight would be addressed with a 15-year plan to remove all diesel trucks from the roads, with a focus on freight-to-rail, coastal shipping and some properly smart thinking about our ports.
And we'd have a 10-year plan to build comprehensive citywide safe cycling networks, including an affordable harbour crossing. The NLTP allocates just 4 per cent of the transport budget to cycling. The UN suggests it should be 20 per cent. Imagine it.
We'd also have a complete rethink about why people drive to work. Maybe we're going to need more flexibility for parents: more time to pick up kids, more childcare facilities close to the office and more schools too. Is there a problem with that?
We can minimise the inconveniences, if we want to. We can make it rewarding, if we're inventive enough. But we have to do it anyway.