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Time to clear the air on exhausts

30 June 2005

Time to clear the air on exhausts

Exhaust pollution from vehicles kills as many New Zealanders each year as car crashes do and the Government's latest plan to deal with this problem is just not enough, the Green Party says.

The Government today announced a series of measures to reduce the harmful effects of vehicle emissions. These include a visual smoke test and banning the removal of or tampering with a vehicle's emissions control systems. The smoke test, part of the warrant of fitness check, will be in place by the end of 2006.

"Those who die from the effects of exhaust pollution are the most vulnerable - the very old and the very young and they deserve the best protection the Government can afford them, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"While we support two measures the Government has announced - they were both part of the Greens' policy on vehicle emissions released last week - the Government has wimped out on the most effective way to reduce deaths from air pollution in future. It has known for a long time that imported vehicles older than seven years are significantly dirtier than those less than seven. Yet the best it can do is 'look into' controls for vehicles entering the country, and assess their social impact.

"People do not have a right to kill others from air pollution just to get cheap vehicles. While it's true that not everyone can afford newer vehicles, there is no shortage of cheap old cars in New Zealand already without bringing in more. We should be adding to the fleet at the top end, not the bottom end.

"The visible smoke test is a start, but it will not show the most toxic pollutants, such as invisible fine particulates and carbon monoxide. A more stringent and precise test is needed."

As well as the smoke test, the Green Party advises the govt to:

Step one - set emissions standards for each class and age of vehicle

Step two - prevent the import of vehicles older than 7 years unless they can demonstrate they can meet high standards.

Step three - check all cars with computerised engine control systems to certify at WOF that they are working optimally

Step 4 - instigate random roadside tests using infrared technology with follow up of the most polluting vehicles on a dynamometer

"We look forward to the Government adopting the rest of our policy too, just as they have done with the two measures in this announcement, and with our policies on negotiated public access and our call for the boycott of the Zimbabwe cricket tour," Ms Fitzsimons says.


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