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The independent Climate Change Commission has delivered its advice to the Government on how to reduce emissions.

From here, the Government must deliver Emission Reduction Plans and Budgets by the end of 2021. These plans and budgets will look out over 15 years.

A key target for action is the transport sector. Carbon emissions from transport have grown significantly and are "low hanging fruit" in achieving carbon emission reductions.

MTA’s advice to Government:

MTA and its 3,800+ automotive business members, support the Government’s climate change goals.

We also believe there is a clear pathway to delivering on two other key policy platforms:

To be successful the Government’s plan needs to address three key areas:

  1. We need to look at all technologies that promote lower emissions and not put Kiwis at risk or leave them isolated.
  2. All vehicles should have their emissions tested as part of their regular maintenance.
  3. We need a plan that also deals with how we dispose of these vehicles to make room for a cleaner future.

While it was pleasing to see the final advice of the Climate Change Commission did go some way to addressing the first point, more needs to be done.

And the other points weren’t effectively addressed at all.

Unintended consequences:

A single-minded focus on EVs and plans to try to rapidly increase the number of EVs on New Zealand roads are unrealistic, and, worse, will deliver unintended consequences in the areas of road safety and wellbeing.

MTA is concerned that unless a coordinated whole-of-life approach is taken to reducing transport emissions - from import, through in-service to end of life - the Government’s Road to Zero Vision where no one is killed or seriously injured in road crashes, is at risk.

We know:

  • The New Zealand light vehicle fleet is old and aging. At an average of 14 years old, New Zealand’s vehicle fleet is old relative to most OECD countries. A key reason is that most vehicles entering the fleet are used imports.

  • New Zealanders are more likely to die in older cars. A 2016 Ministry of Transport study that analysed fatal crashes to determine why there was an impact severe enough to result in death, concluded that the victims’ vehicles were on average, significantly older than the vehicles that they hit.

  • New Zealanders are highly influenced by price. MTA estimates that in 2030, due to low EV availability and penalties on petrol engine vehicles, an average Kiwi family will need to spend about 22% more to purchase an imported vehicle. EVs will simply be out of reach for many New Zealanders.

These three points, combined with an aggressive drive to adopt a wholly EV approach to transport will, in our opinion, see more New Zealanders, especially those who depend on their cars, unable to afford an EV. As a result, they will be obliged to keep their already-aging cars longer and face a greater risk of involvement in fatal crashes.

If people choose not to drive for safety reasons or can’t due to being unable to afford to maintain their aging car, we are concerned about the impact of the more vulnerable members of society, their ability to find and maintain employment and their social isolation.

These unintended consequences can be avoided and need to be considered by the Government, as it considers the Climate Change Commission final advice and starts work on developing its Emissions Reduction Plan, setting out how New Zealand will meet our climate targets, which it must release by the end of this year.

Fix the here and now:

We must look ahead and set in place a plan that moves New Zealand toward a cleaner transport future. But we can’t ignore what is right in front of us.

The Government wants vehicles coming into the country in 2025 to be at or below 105grams of CO2 per km driven.

MTA wants to see regular emissions testing of vehicles – this might be every couple of years after the vehicle reaches a certain age. In this way, Kiwi drivers will be more aware of the contribution their own transport is making to the climate change problem.

It is also a little known fact that vehicle emissions get worse over time, especially if the vehicle is not regularly serviced and maintained. Little fixes, like replacing worn out oxygen sensors or changing fuel filters can do a lot to improve the performance of a vehicle. Check out how what you can do to reduce emissions >>

Make room for a better future:

At the moment, vehicles are almost 20 years old when they are de-registered (scrapped) from the New Zealand fleet. If the vehicles that come in this year are held for the same period of time, then a large number of vehicles will still be emitting high levels of CO2 in 2041.

Nearly a third of vehicles in New Zealand are already over 15 years old. We need a dedicated and coordinated scrappage scheme that makes it easy for owners to dispose of their old vehicles and incentivise them into newer, cleaner vehicles (or even provide support for alternative transport options).

Find out more about all the vehicle components and waste that need to be disposed of, and why a dedicated scrappage scheme is essential.

MTA asked consumers about this and 80% agreed that a scrappage scheme would be a good idea, with the incentive needing to be at least $2,000.

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