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Price Rises Will Trigger Reduction Of Fuel Use

Price Rises Will Trigger Reduction Of Fuel Use

If petrol and diesel prices break the $2 per litre barrier, it will trigger nearly a quarter of New Zealanders to significantly reduce their fuel use.

If the price escalates to $3 per litre for 91 octane petrol and its diesel equivalent, a 68% of New Zealanders say they will significantly reduce fuel use.

Already 21% say a price of between$1.40 and $1.90 triggers change, and by $2.20 51% are affected enough to make change behaviour.

For nearly one of five New Zealanders the price can go above $5 per litre, and it won't make a difference to their fuel use behaviour, according to a new ShapeNZ national online poll of 2047 respondents, taken between 11.30pm on May 6 and 2pm May 8.

The survey has a maximum margin of error 2.2% on the national sample, and provides a representative sample of the population.

The poll is continuing at www.shapenz.org.nz, the online research service operated by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development.

New Zealanders are also bracing for fuel price rises over the next two years: 91% expect them to go up, only 4% say they will stay the same and just 3% say they will fall.

The survey shows 49% are mainly using vehicles using 10 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres. 9% are in highly fuel efficient vehicles using 6L /100km. 8% mainly use vehicles using 11 to 12L /100km, and 6% 13L /100km or more.

While more New Zealanders agree that putting an emissions price on fuel will discourage fuel use (45% to 2%), 47% say an emissions-related price will make no difference.

When asked if an emission price should be imposed to on them personally to discourage their own fuel use, 75% say no.

Only 29% say they have a public transport alternative for the journey they make most often, 62% have no alternative and 2% don't know.

A majority back a policy suggestion that the Government should offer owners of 10 to 15 year-old high emission, fuel inefficient vehicles with a cash incentive to scrap them and replace them with newer fuel efficient, low-emission ones. 54% support this policy, 31% oppose and 10% don't know.

The survey was launched Tuesday night after major Government announcements to defer including transport fuels in the emissions trading scheme by two years until 2011, citing the resulting price rise at the pumps as not needed because of already lower fuel use.

A breakdown of fuel use, shows 56% of those earning between $30,001 and $50,000 a year are most likely to have vehicles using 6 to 8L /100km. The largest number (47%) of those on incomes $200,000 or more, drive vehicles using 9 to 10L /100km.

The area with the highest number gas guzzlers, using vehicles consuming 13L/100km, is the Hastings district (16% of users), followed by North Shore city (12%) and Hamilton City (11). In vehicle-clogged Auckland City 7% use high fuel consumption vehicles, while the biggest group there(24%) use 6 to 8L / 100km. Caution is needed ,however, is using smaller sample sizes than the national one.

Among party voters, Labour (8%) and Maori Party (13%) top the use of 13L/ 100km vehicles.

Labour voters also top the list of those who don't know how much fuel is used by the vehicle they mainly use (33%). Only 18% of National voters, by contrast, don't know how much fuel their main vehicle uses. 28% of Green voters don't know.

National (70%) and ACT (80%) voters are most likely to say they have no public transport alternative to the journey they make most often.

By income those earning between $30,001 and $50,000, and $50,001 and $70,000 a year are the most likely not to have a public transport alternative (69% in each income group).

While 63% of the country says there's no alternative, among those earning $200,000 plus this falls to 48%.
The people saying they have least alternative live in Whangarei (82%), followed by Hastings (80%), Waikato District (78%, Tauranga City (67%, and Waitakere City (56%).

Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says the research shows the very sensitivity to fuel prices, which persuaded the Government to delay emissions charges on fuel by two years, also shows why such a charge is needed to improve fuel economy and reduce the rapid growth of emissions in transport.

This growth is a direct reflection of increasing incomes and living standards.

The research also shows how unpopular a fuel price would be, and why political parties might try to avoid it. The 8c per litre cost for emissions is currently being swamped by oil price rises, resulting from rapid economic growth in India and China.

"However, taxpayers and fuel users are paying for the emissions anyway, through in their tax bill. The question is whether the fuel emission bill should be shifted to emitters. And when," Mr Neilson says.

"We all know what we need to do to preserve our quality of life and trade and tourism future, but we don't want to face up to the immediate pain of making changes. But there are more painless ways like bringing in highly popular incentives to lower fuel and emissions with incentives to move to greener vehicles. The public will love that. And maybe they'll accept a fuel price incentive to cut emissions, where there is a compensating one to do the right thing and save money. We need both the carrot and the stick. The carrot is always more popular."

Ends

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