Climate First

The pathway to a post-carbon world

Transport Policies

Emissions from transport have risen more since 1990 than any other sector, yet compared to Agriculture, where emissions are hard to reduce, the solutions for transport are well known, and patently possible if there is the will to achieve them. New Zealand with nearly 80% renewable electricity is well placed to replace its petrol/diesel car fleet with electric vehicles. Electric public transport and cycling should be replacing cars in cities where 3/4 of NZ's population lives. The main barrier to reducing transport emissions is the lack of understanding of the huge magnitude of emission cuts which will be required. This is where Climate First’s Required Emission Reduction Pathway (RERP) comes in. Transport emissions which were 16.72% in 2013 must be reduced by 0.47 tonnes year on year until 2039. That means that starting in 2018 when transport emissions are projected to be 13.86 Million Tonnes of CO2, they must be reduced down to 3.52 Mtns in 2039 and kept constant at that level until 2050. To do its fair share of achieving this, the light vehicle fleet, for example, as outlined our the paper The small car fleet meets the RERP must have 120,000 of the 3.2 million petrol/diesel vehicles removed from the roads each year. This means a huge reversal of the current addition of more than 50,000 per year.

The current Government's transport plans are disastrous, being designed for the past, not the future. The focus on road and motorway building is setting us up for having a vast network of stranded assets. We believe the future belongs with cycling over shorter distances, heavy rail between cities and light rail within cities for shorter distances. The fundamental principle in making this change is that space must be taken away from cars and given to bikes and rail.

The government has promised to double the number of electric cars on the road every year until 2021. This is a trick because at the moment there are 5,000 elctric cars in NZ. If this doubles there will be 10,000. This is a tiny number compared to the 3.5 million cars on our roads, and a drop in the bucket compared to the 120,000 petrol and diesel cars we calculate need to be removed from our roads if we are to meet our emission reduction pathway. Last year 150,000 petrol cars were imported. These need to be all electric vehicles, but not enough are being manufactured internationally to achieve this, and we cant just throw away perfectly good petrol cars that are only a few years old. The solution has to be converting cars that currently run on petrol to be fully electric. That way, although the motor will be thrown away, the body will not have to be scrapped and replaced. there is a company in australia converting trucks to electric and many amateurs have converted cars, so it can be done. Climate First would immediately investigate doing this on a lagre scale.

The move from petrol to electric would be encouraged by the $100 carbon tax, however this would cost the average motorist only $250 per year, so would not be enough incentive in itself, therefore other encouragement would be needed. These include: 

stopping building new roads so that congestion increases, making public transport more attractive. 

Encoraging smaller cars and reversing the recent trend towards SUVs.

Encouraging car sharing so that car owners had a small car for city use, but had access to a bigger car for long trips. This in instead of having one car for all uses, which inevitably means a big car for the few long jounies taken.

Basing registration charges on engine size with larger cars costing more to register.

Changing the definition of "safety" for ACC levy purposes, to account for the danger a large car poses to other smaller car drivers, rather than  the safelty of the larger car driver in a accident with a smaller car.

removing parking from the inner city


The NZ light passenger vehicle fleet meets its pathway

19th August 2017

There were 3.2 Million cars in NZ in 2015 and the light passenger fleet emitted 64.8% of the total transport fleet emissions, which were in turn 44%3 of total ...more