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Carless days not the solution to Peak Oil problem

16 August 2005

Carless days not the solution to Peak Oil problem

Proposals made public today for responding to a sudden oil crisis are not the mechanisms for dealing with the end of cheap oil, Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

The Ministry of Economic Development report says legislative preparation is required if measures such as carless days, speed limit reductions and petrol rationing are to be called upon in an oil crisis. The report will contribute to the drafting of an Oil Emergency Response Manual for the Energy Minister.

"The Greens believe we need to have the mechanisms in place to deal with both a short-term emergency, such as this report envisions, and Peak Oil, where we are facing steadily rising prices over the long term and eventual shortages no matter what the price," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"We are heartened to see that the Government has opted for a fairer petrol rationing plan than that developed for the 1979 oil shortage. Then we would have seen coupons issued to cars rather than people, which would have led to people buying up old wrecks to get the oil ration and those without cars getting no ration to swap for help with shopping and other essential trips.

"Petrol rationing should be an absolute last resort, but if it becomes really scarce, rationing is fairer than just letting it all go to those on the highest incomes. Everyone should have the same issue of coupons and be free to trade them.

"A plan to prepare for the permanent end of cheap oil and perpetually escalating prices is much more complex, but we should start today to have the maximum time to prepare," Ms Fitzsimons says.

The Greens will be releasing their plan to prepare for the end of cheap oil next week.

ENDS

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