Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland could experience a six per cent reduction in GDP compared to the rest of Aotearoa New Zealand in 2050, according to a new climate report.

Mitigating climate change in New Zealand: impacts on Auckland’s economy describes how the rest of the country may experience just over a one per cent reduction in the same timeframe. It also shows how there will be a lag for Auckland experiencing the effects of transition to a low carbon economy due to its different sectoral make up, often supporting primary manufacturing services located elsewhere in New Zealand.

Pam Ford, Director of Investment and Industry at Tātaki Auckland Unlimited says the research findings, which will be shared with local and central government policymakers, are timely and important.

“This new report finds that while national emissions reduction policies have an impact at a local level, they don’t necessarily consider regional economic factors. As New Zealand’s business centre and most populated region, Auckland’s emissions profile differs from the rest of the country and presents a different set of challenges, costs and opportunities. To reach net zero will require difficult decisions and trade-offs for our sectors, businesses and people but equally the opportunity to create a resilient economy that ensures the wellbeing of our people and the planet.

“Earlier this year, the impacts of climate change were felt in a very tangible way across Tāmaki Makaurau and we must act with urgency. However, while progress has been made on delivering Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan – Auckland’s long-term approach to climate action – there’s more work to be done particularly when it comes to emissions reduction. 

“Understanding the potential impact of wider central government climate policies on Auckland’s economy is essential to inform national emissions reduction plans that take into account Auckland’s differing economic profile, keeping our region on track to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050,” says Pam Ford.

The report contextualises the findings of independent research agency, Market Economics, which Tātaki Auckland Unlimited – the region’s economic and cultural agency – commissioned to quantify the economic impact of the New Zealand Climate Change Commission’s national emissions reduction pathways in Auckland.

Areas examined in the report include the scenarios developed by New Zealand Climate Change Commission; GDP impacts and opportunities for Auckland; how jobs across the region could change in the transition to low carbon; and the importance of equitable transition plans.

Dr Parin Rafiei-Thompson, Head of Climate Innovation and Sustainability at Tātaki Auckland Unlimited says modelling in the report also recognises the impact the introduction of emissions reduction technology alternatives will have on employment across the region.

“Sunset sectors – those that are emissions intensive and will be phased out or required to significantly change as we transition to low carbon – will be impacted. However, modelling shows that as we transition, the net job losses do not appear to change significantly as new green jobs – those that use skills or tasks to enable the environmental sustainability of economic activities – become available. To ensure a just transition, Tāmaki Makaurau must start preparing its workforce for change now, through skills development in affected sectors, which also helps drive transition,” says Dr Parin Rafiei-Thompson.

Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s turning point

Alongside the insights report, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited and the region’s climate innovation hub, Climate Connect Aotearoa, will release Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s turning point: the cost of climate inaction vs decisive action. The report, prepared by professional services firm Deloitte, provides an economic assessment of climate inaction versus decisive climate action for the region, while incorporating the physical risks of climate change, for example flooding.

Modelling in the report shows that decisive climate action could deliver $22 billion to the Auckland region’s economy by 2050 and more than 19,000 additional jobs, whereas climate inaction could cost the Auckland region’s economy $800 million and more than 1200 job opportunities by 2050.

Dr Parin Rafiei-Thompson says while there is initially an upfront cost to address climate change, there is a ‘turning point’ beyond which the benefits of action outweigh its upfront costs and the additional jobs that could be generated in the region by 2050 demonstrate the need for decisive and coordinated climate action.

“The research shows that Auckland’s turning point is 2037, which is fast approaching. For our region to reap the economic, environmental, social and cultural rewards of decisive climate action, there is a need for urgent collaboration to identify transitioning occupations; provide employment pathways and assistance; encourage education and training opportunities; and improve collaboration between local and central government and industry.”

Pam Ford says Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, which is home to Climate Connect Aotearoa, continues to lead on the economy priority actions of Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan to help ensure the region can adapt and thrive in the face of climate change.

“Since launch in 2022, Climate Connect Aotearoa has delivered a range of initiatives to support Tāmaki Makaurau businesses and sectors on their climate journey including an innovation ecosystem to accelerate cross-sector connections and action; He Kete Mātauranga knowledge space dedicated to embedding te ao Māori within climate discussions; and ClimateLink, which enables businesses to connect with organisations, funding opportunities and resources to build climate innovation and resilience.

“Alongside this, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited has delivered sector-based sustainability capability building programmes such as the Taurikura Initiative for visitor economy businesses and climate action workshops for arts, culture, sport and recreation organisations. Tātaki Auckland Unlimited is committed to reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions in line with carbon reduction goals set in Auckland’s Climate Plan, most recently gaining the Toitū carbonreduce certification, demonstrating our ongoing dedication to reducing climate change.”

Mitigating climate change in New Zealand: impacts on Auckland’s economy and Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s turning point will be released at Auckland Climate Festival, a month-long series of events held in Tāmaki Makaurau each year to celebrate, catalyse and accelerate climate action.