Auckland Council votes unanimously to declare a climate emergency

Auckland Council has voted unanimously to declare a climate change emergency. 

The decision follows strike action across the country, with thousands of young people marching out of their classrooms and on the streets demanding change.

A group of these young activists spoke to Auckland's councilors on Tuesday about the impact of climate change - and the council listened.

"We want to be a part of the global community calling for change," said Waitakere ward councillor Penny Hulse in a statement.

"We have listened and are listening to people; to Aucklanders who supported targeted rates to improve the health of our environment."

School Strike for Climate Change organiser Luke Wijohn says the declaration is a start but it needs to be followed through.

"I'm really excited about today because declaring an emergency is the first step we can take to have real action on climate change," he told Newshub. 

Auckland Council has put aside $40 million for a long term plan for climate change but Mayor Phil Goff says that isn't enough and there needs to be a more detailed plan in place.

"If we defer those costs now, those costs don't get smaller, they get bigger and they get worse. We're putting together a framework, but a framework is nothing until we have an action plan that's fully costed," Goff told the council.

He addressed the climate change activists directly, asking what they thought was the best plan of action.

Wijohn had a suggestion for the first step the Council should take.

He says it needs to reduce the cost of public transport and make it fossil fuel free.

"The amount of time that we sit in traffic and waste in congestion that is your emissions right there. Starting with that is the first thing to start with," he told councilors on Tuesday.

By declaring an emergency, Auckland council has committed to visibly incorporating climate change considerations into their decisions, as well as advocating for central Government action.

They are also promising to include climate change impact statements in all their reports, and to monitor and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

"Our obligation is to avoid our children and grandchildren inheriting a world devastated by global heating," said Goff.

"In declaring an emergency we are signalling the urgency of action needed to mitigate and adapt to the impact of rising world temperatures and extreme weather events."