An assessment of vulnerability to climate change in Auckland

Mario Andres Fernandez, Nancy E Golubiewski
Auckland Council Research and Evaluation Unit (RIMU) and Chief Sustainability Office
Publication date:

Executive summary

Vulnerability to climate change entails the degree to which geophysical, biological, and socio-economic systems are susceptible to, and unable to cope with, adverse impacts of climate change (Houghton, 1996). Vulnerability assessments to climate change have become grounds for environmental and climate change policy as they inform the allocation of priorities for funding and intervention; facilitate comparisons between geographic units; assist the development of adaptation options (Brenkert and Malone, 2005; Füssel and Klein, 2006; Ibarrarán, Malone and Brenkert, 2009); and promote a culture of resilience.

This report carries out a vulnerability assessment taking Auckland as a case study. As Auckland has varying geographic, socio-economic and climatic patterns, an assessment at the local level could assist decision-makers to better identify exposed assets and communities at greater risks of climate change impacts as well as to explore mechanisms for developing resilience.

The assessment is based on the construction of two indices: the impact index (II; representing exposure and sensitivity) and the adaptive capacity index (ACI), for which a number of socio-economic, demographic and climatic variables are selected. Census area units (CAU) are the level of analysis. The assessment entails a relative comparison (ranking) of CAUs in terms of the vulnerability indices. Vulnerability hotspots are defined as those CAUs suffering high climate change impact and having low adaptive capacity. It is found that the hotspots locate to the south of the Auckland isthmus and in western Auckland and are characterised by relatively high rates of one-parent households, lower average household income, higher housing stress (greater income allocated to rent payments); low shares of house ownership and high deprivation index; and low proportions of cropland, grassland or forest.

This report contributes to the understanding of the drivers of vulnerability in Auckland as well as their spatial variation across the region.

Auckland Council technical report TR2019/011

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, TR2019/016. 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, TR2019/018 (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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