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Rail The Answer To CO2 Emissions

The government has missed the train by relying on road transport in the face of rising CO2 emissions, Green Party MP and co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said.

She has asked the government in an Oral Question today why there is no mention at all of rail in 13 pages on transport in the Climate change Cabinet papers released yesterday.

The CO2 emissions from the road transport sector are likely to increase by 50 per cent over the next 30 years, according to the papers, which show that transport generates 42.2 per cent of total CO2 emissions in New Zealand, with road transport generating all but two per cent of it.

Rail is four times more fuel efficient for freight than road transport, Ms Fitzsimons said, which means only a quarter of the emissions.

"Opting for rail over road transport is the obvious answer," Ms Fitzsimons said. "But the papers don't even mention it. They do mention everything from carpooling, school walking buses, and the promotion of walking and cycling to issuing brochures on energy efficiency driving tips, changing vehicle standards and making road transport more directly priced."

"Rail has spare capacity to carry more freight, but has been neglected for years, and so far government has no proposals to invest in upgrading the track. Enhanced rail passenger services offer an obvious alternative to new motorways in Auckland and Wellington. .

Government will spend $884m on new motorways in Auckland between 2000 and 2004 - and there is no sign of any recognition that this will lead to increased CO2 emissions.. Money on new roads means more traffic and more CO2 emissions while money on new rail means less of both.

This same amount of money invested in rail across the whole country could help create a modern, efficient rail network to deal with the massive growth in forestry production over the next decade. The alternative is a big increase in the number of trucks on the road, which means not only more CO2 but more crashes and much higher roading costs.

Jeanette Fitzsimons 04 470 6661, 025 586 068 Jane Tolerton (press secretary) 04 470 6679, 021 262 3120


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