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New Zealand's dirty diesel international disgrace


20 June 2001

New Zealand's dirty diesel an international disgrace

New Zealand diesel is filthy by international standards and the Government needs to take urgent action to clean it up, Green Party Transport Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.

Ms Kedgley said the sulphur levels in New Zealand diesel - which are up to 300 times higher than levels in some European diesel - was an international embarrassment that posed serious health and environmental risks.

Currently Sweden has sulphur levels in its diesel of just 10 parts per million and the UK, Finland and Denmark have levels of 50 ppm. Australia has sulphur levels of 350 ppm while New Zealand has a much higher 3000 ppm.

"The Government must change the rules to bring our fuel specifications into line with the rest of the developed world - reducing our sulphur levels from 3000 ppm to 350 ppm and commiting to a further reduction to 50 ppm by 2005," said Ms Kedgley.

"We strongly support the Auckland Regional Council attempt to get sulphur levels in Auckland's diesel down to 1000 ppm, but the bottom line is that even with sulphur levels at 1000 ppm they will still significantly exceed European levels by at least 20 times.

"Reducing sulphur in fuel cuts emissions of particulate matter which are dangerous for people with respiratory problems and can corrode buildings," she said.

"Our diesel is filthy by international standards and today I have written to Associate Energy Minister Paul Swain urging the Government to take some much-needed leadership through:

* fast-tracking moves requiring reductions of the sulphur in New Zealand diesel down to 350 ppm;

* introducing tax differentials to encourage sulphur reductions below the 350 ppm level;

* commiting to achieving a 50 ppm, or lower, goal by 2005.

"As of March last year the EU commenced discussions on how to further reduce their sulphur levels to 10 ppm - a move driven by a desire for cleaner air and a commitment to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

"New Zealand has been well and truly left behind and it is high time we caught up on this issue."

ENDS

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