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New Zealanders Worried About Air Quality

New Zealanders Worried About Air Quality

New Zealanders are worried about air quality and back the Government's new moves to bring in tougher emissions controls on imported vehicles.

However, they also believe the new emissions standards will put up the prices of new and imported vehicles. Some 48% say this is likely to result in them delaying replacing vehicles and they would strongly support a policy to bring in a cash incentive to get the worst polluting cars, aged 10 or older, out of the national fleet.

The first national polling on the vehicle emissions issue, undertaken by ShapeNZ for the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, shows:

- 93% believe vehicle emissions in New Zealand are a problem

- 78% are personally concerned about the quality of air where they live, with 45% believing it has become worse in the past five years

Some 74% agree with the policy to ensure vehicles imported to New Zealand meet the emissions standards of the countries in which they are produced, and 44% think the Government is acting at about the right pace, 15% think it is acting too quickly, 36% too slowly.

Controversy swirls around claims the policy will increase prices and result in people holding onto older high-emission vehicles for longer.

The public agrees with this view.

- 68% expect the policy will lead to vehicle prices rising, and 53% expect rises will be between $1000 and $5000 per vehicle

- 69% agree that, as a result, people with older high-emission vehicles will keep them longer.

When asked about the vehicle they personally use, 48% say they are less likely to replace if prices go up, while 40% say it will make no difference.

Some 18% say yes when asked if they suspect or know their 10-year old plus vehicle is a high emission one.

Asked if the Government should offer owners of high emission vehicles, aged between 10 and 15 years, money to scrap their vehicles and help them replace them with more fuel efficient ones, 58% say yes, 31% no and 11% don't know.

They want this policy to start in centres where air quality is a significant issue.

The Business Council, whose 61 members' annual sales of $44 billion equate to about 34% of gross domestic product, has been advocating for two years for incentives to clean up the vehicle fleet, one of the oldest and dirtiest in the world.

Business Council Chief Executive, Peter Neilson, says his organisation, which includes Toyota, Honda and BMW as members, strongly supports the new emissions standards.

"When you're in a hole you stop digging. The Government is going to start doing that with newly imported new and used vehicles. Now we've also got to deal with the poor quality older vehicle stock that's already here. Kiwis will back an extra new policy to do that.

"The research shows they believe vehicle emissions are causing earlier deaths and aggravating the asthma problem. And they'd like assistance to do the right thing and help fix it.

"The public clearly agree with the arguments about the potential impacts of higher emissions standards, flowing to higher prices and slowing replacement of dirty vehicles. But they're very concerned about air quality, health and doing the right thing. They will back a scrappage fee solution," Mr Neilson says.

The full results of the ShapeNZ poll, covering 1061 respondents, representative of the national population, conducted between noon last Friday November 23 and 2.30pm November 27, are available at www.nzbcsd.org.nz.

The results are weighted by age, gender, personal income, employment status and party vote at the 2005 general election. At a confidence level of 95% the margin of error is plus or minus 3.5%.

The survey continues online at www.shapenz.org.nz.

Ends


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