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Vehicle Emission Deaths A Public Health Disaster

21 March 2002

Vehicle Emission Deaths A Public Health Disaster - Greens

Green Transport Spokesperson Sue Kedgley today called on Government to introduce mandatory emission tests in warrant of fitness vehicle checks as part of an urgent strategy to clean up vehicle emissions which are killing as many people as the road toll each year.

A new report issued by Transport Minister Mark Gosche estimates that 399 people aged over 30 die prematurely each year due to exposure to microscopic particles contained in vehicle emissions.

"This is a major public health disaster, and we need a national strategy to urgently reduce our exposure to harmful vehicle emissions," Ms Kedgley said.

"As a first logical step, we need to make vehicles pass an emissions test as part of the warrant of fitness. We call on the Government to make this happen as soon as possible."

Ms Kedgley said the new findings demonstrate that diesel needs to be cleaned up much faster than the Government's timetable proposes.

"New Zealand diesel is filthy by international standards and Government plans to reduce the sulphur content from 3000 parts per million to between 1000 and 1400 ppm in Auckland and an average of 2200 ppm for the rest of the country is too slow.

"We want to see the Government regulate to have diesel with 50 ppm - as is common in Europe - within two years time."

Ms Kedgley said this study showed the true cost of car dependence and highlighted the need for public transport and alternatives to cars.

"We hope this study galvanises the Government into speeding up action to clean up our roads, our vehicles and our fuels. We acknowledge the Government transport package has begun to take action on these issues but with emissions killing nearly as many people as the road toll we need urgent action not words.

"The best way to address the findings of this report is to make vehicle emission tests mandatory as part of warrant of fitness checks."

Ends

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