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February 10, 2023

New Zealanders impatient on climate challenge, but believe losing carparks in Auckland is not the answer

The majority of New Zealanders think that building new homes in Auckland with no car parks and the removal of business-adjacent car parks in our biggest city is unfair.

 

A study[1] of more than 1000 New Zealanders has revealed variations in public sentiment towards efforts to reduce carbon emissions that are changing Aucklanders’ housing and travel options.

 

The study, commissioned by communications agency Anthem and undertaken by Talbot Mills Research, asked the public’s views on restricting the use of cars in Auckland to address climate challenges.

 

Most Aucklanders agreed they would like to use their car less but alternatives won’t work for them (59%), parking close to businesses is essential (56%) and employers should do more to help reduce emissions (53%).

 

“There are significant transport and construction changes already underway – or proposed – affecting the sustainability of some businesses and influencing people’s decision to work or live in Auckland,” says Jane Sweeney, Co-founder and Executive Chair of Anthem.

 

“Cycle lanes are replacing car parks on major roads, taking a car into the central city is becoming harder as streets are remodelled to provide more pedestrian/cycle/scooter access, and new apartment buildings on the city fringe no longer provide carparks for residents.

 

“We wanted to canvas views around whether it was fair these efforts were impacting the way Aucklanders live and move around the city, and to delve into the reputational impacts for developers, council and transport authorities that are a huge part of such change, and CBD employers in general.”

 

Nearly half (48%) of Aucklanders (and 43% of New Zealanders) want quicker and more drastic action to reduce transport carbon emissions, and would like to use their car less.

 

More than a third (39%) say that if given the choice they would choose to work for an employer who was doing their bit to help reduce transport carbon emissions, and 53% would expect this to include employers taking actions such as subsiding the use of public transport and enabling employees to work from home more often. On the other hand, 48% of Aucklanders say that if they couldn’t drive their car and park close to work, they would want to only work remotely and never travel into the office or CBD.

 

The findings showed that while the majority of respondents said government subsidies for public transport, purchasing electric vehicles, and limiting vehicle access in the CBD were fair, most thought that building new homes with no car parks and the removal of business-adjacent car parks was unfair, at 72% and 67% respectively. 53% say they would shop elsewhere if there were no carparks available close to a business.

 

Aucklanders shared mixed views on what impact further limitations would have on Auckland, with 36% saying more limits would make Auckland a better place to work, 35% believing it would make Auckland worse, and 37% saying they would seriously consider working or living outside of Auckland if new limits are put on personal vehicle usage and access.

 

When asked if Auckland’s transport emissions were to worsen, respondents felt that Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, and Government should be held most accountable, with close ratings of ‘blame’, and 45% of respondents saying there are lots of reasons to care about our climate and environment, but Auckland Council’s ‘big stick’ approach to limiting use of personal vehicles will negatively impact its reputation and goes too far.

 

“Aside from the public sector organisations the research revealed there are reputational watch outs for commercial and residential property developers, Auckland central business district employers, and the AA. The findings show the challenge of implementing innovative solutions to help reduce transport carbon emissions in a way that the public feels are fair and reasonable. Such solutions need to balance the need for convenience when it comes to living, travel and work options, to ensure a thriving city, and the ongoing viability of businesses in the CBD,” says Sweeney.

 

According to Rikki Stancich, Director, Climate and Sustainability at Deloitte, global trends indicate that the dial is shifting on personal car ownership.

 

“With an estimated €22bn in auto-finance forecast to shift into the European car subscription market by 2025, and with major European cities already mandating residential developers to cap car parking spaces in exchange for car share and mobility-as-a-service facilities, the writing is on the wall.

 

“The scale and pace of change beyond New Zealand’s borders suggests that the conversations – and the reservations – we are currently having, are misguided, and that New Zealand is bordering on becoming a laggard.”

 

“We have lived in this society where there has been incredible investment into our roads”, explains Stacey van der Putten, Executive General Manager, Safety, Auckland Transport.

 

“It’s about lifting up the other modes of transport to make them viable choices for people. It’s critical that organisations like Auckland Transport take a leadership role to understand community needs and meet the expectations of more Aucklanders.”

 

Jonathan Sergel, Chief Mobility Officer of the Automobile Association shares that “we’re in the midst of a massive change in the automobile industry as manufacturers move to alternative options including EVs, hybrids and biofuel. Doing even more to reduce carbon emissions is something our customers and employees are demanding. As a 120-year-old motoring club with a long history of focussing on internal combustion engines, we understand the significant reputational risk for our business if we don’t help our members transition to new modes of transport.”

 

The research is part of a regular research series, Fair Enough?, examining topical issues and reputation through a fairness lens. The series aims to examine key reputational risks at play and how stakeholders are responding.

 

Talbot Mills Research Managing Director, David Talbot, shares that he expected more differences between how Aucklanders and the rest of New Zealand view the transport restrictions within Auckland.

 

“Overall the research indicated broad support for action to reduce transport emissions – both from those living in Auckland as well as elsewhere in the country. Almost twice as many respondents supported faster action in terms of reducing Auckland’s transport emissions as were opposed (43% to 23%), and this sentiment was especially strong with under-30s. Of particular note, a majority of Aucklanders agreed that employers “should do more” in terms of emissions reduction initiatives.”

 

ENDS

[1] The survey was conducted by Talbot Mills Research using a nationwide online nationally representative sample of n=1071 between the 26th and 31st of January 2023. The maximum margin of error for a 50 per cent figure at the 95 per cent confidence level is +/- 3 per cent.

 

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