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Government working to improve vehicle emissions

Government working to improve vehicle emissions

The Labour-Progressive Government, with the support of the Greens, is developing a number of programmes to address vehicle emissions and their social, environmental and economic effects, Associate Transport Minister Judith Tizard announced today.

“We know the transport sector contributes a major proportion of the air pollution in Auckland and other parts of New Zealand. Air pollution from vehicle emissions is a significant cause of health effects ranging from illness to premature death.

“We want to improve health outcomes by improving the overall emissions performance of vehicles in the New Zealand fleet. This work needs to be developed carefully as cars and trucks are major forms of transport, but we want to move as quickly as possible on the issue in order to reduce the invisible road toll from the health effects of vehicle emissions.”

Judith Tizard said the government was looking at a number of short-term and long-term proposals to bring down New Zealand’s vehicle emissions levels as part of its commitment to achieving the vision of the New Zealand Transport Strategy. Those proposals include:

Education – of vehicle users in the need for and benefits of vehicle maintenance and repair Emissions screening – a first stage of emissions screening of pre-used, imported vehicles at the New Zealand border to ensure minimum emissions performance at entry; and, if necessary, a second stage of emissions screening of vehicles regularly during their life on the road in New Zealand.

"We have also taken steps to achieve reduced emissions by changing our fuel standards. These are being phased in over the next three years and will reduce problem emissions. There are restrictions on how quickly we can do this because it’s important that we link in with other countries such as Australia.”

Judith Tizard said she expects to take a paper with all of these proposals to Cabinet in the middle of the year. This paper will identify the costs and benefits of the proposals, including resourcing issues, and discuss the timing for the introduction of the various measures.

“In terms of the government’s proposed programme to reduce vehicle emissions, part of the short-term solution will be good public education and encouraging individual vehicle owners to take responsibility for having their vehicles regularly checked and tuned. The extent to which proposals for emissions screening are implemented will be influenced by the public’s response to that campaign.

“We are also aware that an increasing number of New Zealanders are choosing vehicles with diesel engines. The maintenance of diesel vehicles is quite different to petrol vehicles. Both the government and the motor industry need to play their part in explaining the management needs of diesel vehicles to ensure they don’t emit excessive pollution.

“Ultimately it’s important that all vehicle owners and operators take responsibility to fix and regularly tune their vehicles. Not only will they and their neighbours breathe easier, they will save in the long-term on fuel and maintenance costs.”

Judith Tizard said the government would fully examine all relevant evidence and consider the viewpoints of interested parties before deciding on a course of action.

“We will be listening to local authorities, political partners and other stakeholders who are concerned about improving local air quality. “The Auckland Regional Council’s successful “0800 Smokey” campaign indicated that New Zealanders don’t like vehicles belching exhaust into their environments, and its new ‘Drive-By Emissions Tests’ programme with NIWA shows that local government is an important partner in reducing vehicle emissions.

“I have had initial discussions on the possibility of pilot programmes with Auckland Regional Council, Waitakere and Christchurch City Councils, and I will also be talking with councils in other parts of New Zealand in the coming months.

“We all want to see something done quickly and we will do what we can within the constraints that we have. We have done the first lot of research which indicates there is a major problem and we are undertaking further research on a number of levels.”

Judith Tizard said the Labour-Progressive Government had already introduced several initiatives to tackle vehicle pollution including: Increasing transport funding to tackle severe traffic congestion in key areas such as Auckland, including key roading developments, public transport initiatives and walking and cycling promotion; Lowering the sulphur content of diesel fuel, initially in Auckland and Northland; Improving the quality of New Zealand’s petrol and diesel fuels over the next few years Improving the emissions quality of imported new and used vehicles Undertaking further research on the health impacts of vehicle emissions.

Further background information is attached, and available on http:// http://www.transport.govt.nz and http:// http://www.beehive.govt.nz.

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