Air quality and societal impacts from predicted climate change in Auckland

Nick Talbot
Auckland Council Research and Evaluation Unit (RIMU) and Chief Sustainability Office
Publication date:

Executive summary

Emissions from human activities released into the atmosphere act to change its composition. This can be observed globally through climate change, and locally with degraded air quality. Although often considered separately, climate change and air quality have many common attributes that together, deliver complex environmental challenges. The global scale of climate change and the more regionalised scale of air pollution have encouraged holistic policies that “think global, act local” in their approach.

A climate report recently released by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) models possible climate outcomes for Auckland under different emission scenarios (Pearce et al., 2018). The results reported in this report could assist the council in the development of targeted climate mitigation and vulnerability strategies.

The principal findings from NIWA’s climate change report are evaluated in the context of possible air quality implications for Auckland. National and international research offers evidence of how climate change scenarios may have both positive and adverse effects on air quality. Negative effects are driven by prospective increases in tropospheric ozone concentrations, lower dispersion and deposition of particulates and increased aeroallergen contributions. Conversely, air quality could improve by lowering wood burning emissions from domestic heating and increased wet deposition through increased atmospheric water vapour.

Climate-enhanced air pollution can impact certain communities due to existing social and landscape issues. A review of current knowledge of these factors is discussed.

The evidence provided in this report could provide guidance for the development of mitigation and adaptive strategies at local and regional governance levels.

Auckland Council technical report TR2019/013

Climate Change Risk Assessment CCRA 2019 series


Climate Change Risk Assessment 2019

As communities across the world set out to plan for climate change mitigation and adaptation, they first seek to understand how climate change will affect their city, region, or country.

The Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) has been produced by Auckland Council’s Research and Evaluation Unit (RIMU) in support of the Auckland Climate Action Plan (ACAP) at the request of the Chief Sustainability Office. Its aim is to provide information about the risk and vulnerabilities the Auckland region may face under a changing climate regime, which is already underway. In 2018, national climate change projections were scaled-down to produce a more specific picture of their likely effects within the Auckland region. Based on this, CCRA adopted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 (“business as usual”) scenario as its guiding projection, given the lack of evidence of any meaningful and sustained decreases in emissions that would shift to other projection pathways.

The eight reports in the CCRA consider various components of key risks – that is, hazard, exposure, and vulnerability – across sectors and systems of interest: people (heat vulnerability, climate change and air quality), society (social vulnerability and flooding), and natural environment (terrestrial and marine ecosystems), as well sea level rise at regional and local scales. A summary report has also been produced.

Titles in the Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) series:

An assessment of vulnerability to climate change in Auckland. Fernandez, M. A. and N. E. Golubiewski

Development of the Auckland Heat Vulnerability Index. Joynt, J. L. R. and N. E. Golubiewski

Air quality and societal impacts from predicted climate change in Auckland. Talbot, N.

Climate change risk assessment for terrestrial species and ecosystems in the Auckland region. Bishop, C. D. and T. J. Landers 

Climate change risk assessment for Auckland’s marine and freshwater ecosystems. Foley, M. M. and M. Carbines

Flooding risk in a changing climate. Golubiewski, N. E., J. L. R. Joynt and K. Balderston

Auckland’s exposure to sea level rise: part 1 – regional inventory. Golubiewski, N. E., K. Balderston, C. Hu and J. Boyle

Auckland’s exposure to sea level rise: part 2 – local inventory (forthcoming). Boyle, J., N. E. Golubiewski, K. Balderston and C. Hu

Summary: Climate change risks in Auckland. Auckland Council. Prepared by Arup for Auckland Council 


Last updated: 2019-03-20


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