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During 2019 five regional councils (including Auckland) and ten territorial authorities declared a ‘climate emergency’ in NZ.

An emergency is a a dangerous situation requiring immediate action. It’s probably fair to say that Council’s don’t have a reputation for acting quickly. Nonetheless, a policy triage of sorts is underway to determine the order of regulation urgency. This will be a chaotic time as the effects of climate change force Council’s to react in unpredictable ways.

To try and get ahead of this, Auckland City Council has prepared a Draft Climate Action Framework. It contains 11 changes to the status quo or ‘key moves’ that are required in response to the climate emergency. Here are my thoughts on the key moves that will most dramatically influence land development.

Laying the foundation

Climate change is currently an ‘other matter’ in the Resource Management Act 1991. As it becomes embedded in decision-making we will see projects being assessed in relation to the effects of and on climate change. Specialist consultants will become part of the development team to provide climate change impact assessment reports.

Enhancing, restoring and connecting our natural environments

Current rules tend to focus on retaining vegetation. But no net loss is too unambitious. Afforestation to offset the effects of development could become standard practice. Stormwater management and multi-functional road design will provide opportunities for using land more efficiently.

Making development and infrastructure climate compatible

A one size fits all approach will not continue. Infrastructure design and construction will need to be increasingly bespoke. This will have impacts on designers, suppliers, contractors and asset managers. The ability of consultants to combine local knowledge with innovation will become increasingly important.

Transforming existing buildings and places

We won’t be replacing like for like. The types of land use that are causing climate change are not the same as those that are required to reverse it. Renewal and regeneration opportunities will allow developers to use land more intensively.

Delivering clean, safe and equitable transport options

Road design will continue to evolve. The current requirements are only two or three generations from the 1980s. They are not fit for purpose as we head towards the middle of the 21st century. Design guides for smart streets, micromobility and ride-hailing that barely exist today will become more prominent.