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Action Needed To Cut Deaths From Vehicle Emissions

“Urgent action needed to cut deaths from vehicle emissions”

March 21, 2002

Auckland Regional Council Chair Gwen Bull is calling for urgent action to reduce the deaths of Aucklanders as a result of vehicle related air pollution.

A Ministry of Transport commissioned report released today revealed that 253 Aucklanders are dying as a result of exposure to vehicle emissions every year.

“We are not surprised by the findings of the health effects report. We have been concerned about the potential health effects of vehicle emissions for some time. This report has confirmed our worst fears,” says Cr Bull.

“This report indicates that many more people die prematurely from vehicle related pollution than die from crashes on Auckland’s roads – and many of those deaths are preventable.”

“The ARC has always considered air quality a serious human health issue and now the evidence is plain for all to see,” she says.

Cr Bull says the danger to human health from vehicle emissions was what prompted the ARC to launch its hugely successful 0800 SMOKEY campaign in 2000 and to fight for cleaner diesel in the region last year.

“The ARC has made progress on this issue. We have made Aucklanders aware of the air quality issue. We’ve successfully campaigned for the introduction of the 10 second rule. We have worked with fuel suppliers and the Government to reduce the sulphur content in Auckland’s diesel to less than half what it was a year ago. These are significant achievements but there is much more to be done,” she says.

“We have worked closely with Central Government on a number of issues including transport and we look forward to working closely with them on this.

“There are a number of things that we need Government to take the lead on to bring New Zealand’s vehicle emissions down significantly to acceptable levels over the next few years.”

The actions needed are:

1. Resource ways of strictly enforcing the “10 second rule” immediately;

2. Put in place other measures to eliminate “gross emitters” (for example emissions testing as part of WOF checks)

3. Urgently align New Zealand’s fuel specifications to the standards of other western countries

4. Place stringent emissions limits on used imported vehicles (this includes a requirement to meet strict emission standards upon entry into the country)
5. Pull all agencies involved into a co-ordinated approach and confirm a timeline for the required actions.

“I hope this health effects report will act as a catalyst for Government and others to work with us to provide solutions,” says Cr Bull.

“These actions will take a few years to fully come into effect, so progress on them is needed urgently.

“While the ARC will be keeping the Government honest on these actions, everybody needs to do their bit to clear the air.

“The single best thing motorists can do to reduce vehicle emissions is to tune their vehicles every six months.”

Ends

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