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Govt. attacks vehicle emissions problem

24 January 2006

Govt. attacks vehicle emissions problem with a feather duster

Unwilling to impose a robust in-service emission testing regime like other OECD countries, the New Zealand Government has chosen to monitor the exhaust emissions of our third-world vehicle fleet in the most simplistic way possible, says the Motor Industry Association.

“A simple visual test for smoke emissions might be better than nothing at all, but it cannot possibly address the whole cocktail of emissions, many of which are invisible,” said Perry Kerr, CEO of the MIA. “We’re killing 400 people a year through vehicle emissions, the same number that die due to road crashes, yet the Government refuses to adopt a responsible approach to the situation.”

New Zealand’s vehicle emissions problem is exacerbated by the fact that our vehicle fleet is ageing due to the huge number of older used imports crossing the wharves. Less than 15% of recent used imports were under five years old, nullifying the rapid progress that the new vehicle industry has been making in minimising exhaust emissions.

This in itself should be justification to have a particularly stringent emissions testing regime, yet the Government continues to avoid its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol by paying lip service to the problem. “Recent comments would suggest that there is more interest at Ministerial level regarding saving whales than there is in minimising human loss of life through exhaust pollution,” said Mr. Kerr.

Interestingly, the city of Tokyo is now banning diesel vehicles over seven years old unless it can be proven that they can meet the emission standards currently demanded of new vehicles. “This will be yet another opportunity for used importers to make money from vehicles with no value in Japan by unloading them on the New Zealand market,” Mr. Kerr said.

“We are truly naive in our continuing role as the dumping ground for other countries’ environmental problems, but we also have to question the morality of the Japanese Government in allowing the export of vehicles which are illegal to use in Japan.”

The MIA is running out of patience with the current Government on this issue. “We’ve had a Labour-led Government for nearly seven years now, and despite their rhetoric about caring for the environment, all they’ve managed to come up with in that time is a highly-suspect visual smoke test to determine which vehicles are emitting harmful pollutants and which aren’t,” said Mr. Kerr.

“Not only is this up to the eyesight (under widely varying light conditions) and opinion of hundreds of individual garage mechanics, but it’s clearly going to be easier to identify offending diesel vehicles instead of equally harmful petrol vehicles. The whole thing is a nonsense.”

According to the MIA, the problem could be largely eliminated at source by a rolling age ban on used imported vehicles. “Without this protection, New Zealand will continue to be the destination of choice for the world’s most environmentally-unsound old vehicles.

The ‘feather duster’ approach to in-service emissions testing will only serve to cause grief for those of limited means who’ve been suckered into buying vehicles which should never have been allowed into the country in the first place,” said Mr. Kerr.


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