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Higher standards for imports welcome

Higher standards for imports welcome but incentives still needed to accelerate major car fleet clean up

Business leaders are welcoming a Government policy option to impose tighter emission controls on imported vehicles, but say cash incentives will be needed to make sure the country quickly cleans up one of the world's oldest and dirtiest car fleets.

The Business Council for Sustainable Development says it backs the call for a move to make sure all vehicles imported from 2008 meet the 2000 Japanese exhaust emissions standards at a minimum.

Business Council Chief Executive Mr Peter Neilson says a strong package of measures is needed, to make sure the fleet upgrade is achieved quickly, delivering big gains in clean-air, health, fuel efficiency and safety.

"It's good news the Government has recognised we're in a hole on vehicle fleet pollution and is going to stop digging.

"Tighter emission controls on all imported vehicles will help reduce petrol particulate pollution, which is causing 970 people over the age of 30 to die here prematurely each year.

"They will also see a move to a cleaner fleet: One 2005 petrol driven vehicle produces 40 times less pollution than a 1990 technology one. We have thousands of vehicles on the road based on 1980's and1990s technology, many having nothing at all to deal with pollutants going straight from the engine to the exhaust.

It will also help cut greenhouse gas emissions and help the country meet its Kyoto protocol emissions reduction targets.

"What we recommend, is the Government give any emission control rules some real power, by encouraging buyers to buy the most fuel efficient, low emission cars available. That means a cash grant of up to $3000 to buyers doing the right thing. We believe that will result in more than 420,000 climate friendly cars entering the fleet over five years."

A policy to pay cash incentives to climate friendly car buyers is firmly supported in a recent report to Europe's transport ministers. Prepared by the leading London-based economic consultancy NERA, with support from the world's leading automobile organisation, the FIA, it says improving vehicle fuel efficiency through fiscal incentives ranks third among the most effective ways of cutting CO2 emissions after steep rises in petrol prices and changing driver behaviour.

"There is considerable potential for differentiating vehicle taxes in more countries, improving the basis for differentiation, increasing the range of vehicles subject to incentives and increasing the size of the incentives created," the report says.

It also says there are huge gains to be made from teaching people to drive in fuel efficient ways, and vehicle taxes could be effectively based on fuel and emission efficiency, rather than engine displacement or power or weight.

"Incentives to choose fuel efficient, low emission cars are about to be introduced federally in the United States. Lower taxes or other incentives for these vehicles are in place in the some US states, the United Kingdom and throughout Europe.

"While higher fuel prices are also an incentive to buy more fuel efficient cars, as we are seeing in the latest New Zealand small car sales figures, they're not enough on their own. And we need an incentive to encourage corporate and other buyers to look at alternatives to their most popular choice – larger vehicles with questionable fuel efficiency. They still top the new car sales numbers.

"There is also an opportunity for the Government when it looks at its vehicle quality rule is to ensure it requires the importation of vehicles which can run on either B5 or E10 climate friendly bio fuels."


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