Emissions plan: calls for stronger incentives

A public transport advocacy group called for He would have preferred to see more action on congestion charging in the bigger cities. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi.

The Motor Trade Association is calling for a 'scrap and replace' car scheme to be extended to all New Zealanders.

As part of its plan to drive down emissions, the government has announced it will provide $569 million for a trial scheme for up to 2500 cars.

It will target lower to middle income families giving them a financial incentive to shift to a low emissions vehicle as long as they scrap their old belcher.

Motor Trade Association energy and environment spokesperson Ian Baggott says the scheme could go further.

"If the government's keen on getting 30 per cent of the fleet as EVs by 2035, you know my maths say that's 900,000, so in a fleet population of 3 million it's still leaves about 2.1 million internal combustion engine vehicles, so they're just going to get older so we need to do something about those vehicles in the fleet."

Baggott says the problem is establishing the eligibility criteria for vehicles that should be scrapped.

Factors which could be considered are whether there is an age or mileage limit on vehicles or whether they need to be unwarrantable.

A lot of those problems should be ironed out during the pilot scheme, he says.

He would like to see the scheme open to all New Zealanders, not just those on low to middle incomes as proposed.

Some families will have multiple vehicles and the oldest car is likely to get passed down to the young driver, which is bad from a safety and environmental perspective, he says.

"From an environmental point of view there's very good reason why that vehicle should be scrapped."

Baggott says upper income families can probably afford to buy an EV and a subsidy might just push them over the line to scrapping their old vehicle.

Trying to get vehicles, be they combustion engines or EVs off the road altogether is unrealistic given there is not the public transport available outside the main centres, Baggott says.

Baggott says a significantly bigger investment in infrastructure such as chargers for EVs will be needed if the government wants to achieve its goals.

Transport investment 'underwhelming'

Transport advocacy group Greater Auckland's director Matt Lowrie says he's underwhelmed.

"There's a lot of opportunity that the government has to have really driven change in our transport sector and particularly encouraging alternative modes of travel through things like e-bikes or further investing in walking and cycling and public transport initiatives."

He refers to the Climate Change Commission's findings that petrol vehicle travel will have to reduce by 20 per cent by the year 2035 as part of the climate budget reduction requirements.

"That means that in our bigger cities we probably need to be reducing our travel that's occurring and the amount of people that are driving, way up to 40 to 60 per cent ... so we need much stronger incentives for people to get out of their cars and onto alternative modes."

He says more can be done on improving the public transport services and continuing half-price fares; adding more cycleways and encouraging people to buy more bikes.

"The biggest thing for driving public transport use is improving the quality of the service, so that's better frequency, better reliability, faster speeds of buses and trains.

"There is a part of a $350m package, plans to improve bus priority and other initiatives as well as cycleways and what have you - that's good but that's a drop in the bucket of what's needed."

He would have preferred to see more action on congestion charging in the bigger cities too, especially considering it had broad support from the public and across all political parties.

"There's sort of a very lukewarm announcement on congestion charging and not as strong as we'd like, just kicking the can down the road a bit to like 'maybe we'll do it at some time'.

"A lot of their policies seem to be almost fearful of seeming anti-car or trying to make too much change."

Victoria University Adjunct Professor Ralph Chapman says transport changes announced will take place too slowly.

In a statement to the Science Media Centre, he says it is disappointing the date for "phasing out imports of fossil cars" is not set earlier than 2035.

He says the "scrap-and-replace" vehicle scheme that was announced will have the undesirable effect of maintaining car dependence.

"It's disappointing that the date set for phasing out imports of fossil cars is 2035 and not earlier," Chapman says.

What the experts say

University of Canterbury Professor Bronwyn Hayward says - in comments provided by the Science Media Centre - that it's easy to be cynical, but she feels "quietly optimistic".

Optimistic that "finally this is an emissions plan that starts us as a nation on a new journey of clearly reporting and measuring the difference we are making for our climate and our community.

"Having the Climate Commission regularly assess our progress is a very real difference to anything we've had in the past... Transport also makes up a significant and rapidly growing proportion of our emissions - so Mondays announcement of a range of transport investments from significant spending on public transport to trialling a scheme for trading in old cars owned by middle and low income families is welcome."

Hayward says the government's plan is not a vote grabber, but the country has to take "long term practical steps to fundamentally change our economy, the way we live our lives, build our homes and protect our people".

"We can't afford political magical thinking any more. Today we finally started to take our first steps on a long delayed journey towards a fairer, low emission, and more secure future for everyone."

Massey University Distinguished Professor Robert McLachlan says in comments from the Science Media Centre "The freight emissions target has been strengthened (from 25 per cent to 35 per cent cuts by 2035) which is welcome. The biofuel target has been weakened (from 15 percent to 10 per cent cuts by 2035) which probably reflects the high level of uncertainty and technical difficulty here. The reduction in driving is held at 20 per cent by 2035 and it is good to see that targets for every city will be developed this year, with detailed plans to follow.

"A key step will be to develop the details on the proposal to 'incentivise local government to quickly deliver bike/scooter networks, dedicated bus lanes, and walking improvements by reallocating street space (including during street renewals)'.

"It's also very good to see the initiative to 'establish a high threshold for new investment to expand roads, including new highway projects, if the expansion is inconsistent with emissions-reduction objectives'. Just two new highways could easily cost as much as the entire ERP package and risk increasing car usage.

"Unfortunately there is no date yet for an end to the import of fossil-fuelled cars, and the big emissions reductions in transport are still pushed out to the 2030s."

University of Canterbury Professor Simon Kingham told the Science Media Centre the transport component of the emissions reduction plan included a significant focus on reducing reliance on private cars and encouraging walking, cycling and the use of public transport.

"This is because it has been calculated switching to electric vehicles alone won't deliver the required reductions in carbon emissions. New Zealanders have to change the way they travel and they need to transition to more carbon-friendly modes, specifically reducing light vehicle travel by 20 per cent.

"This will be a challenge as travel behaviour has historically been focused towards private cars. But meeting these targets is not impossible if there is appropriate investment, political will and public buy in."


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1 Comment

More money to waste and kickbacks

Posted on 17-05-2022 09:07 | By an_alias

It will all be consumed by pet project and used for govt PR followed by kickbacks to friends and relatives. They are doing nothing to help low income, its all about punishing by this govt.

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