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Consequences dire if fuel use not checked - study

15 January 2013

Consequences dire if fuel use not checked - study

How would New Zealand fare if oil was not available in the future at the rate we use it today, or it was unaffordable?

That is the question posed in a report commissioned by the Palmerston North City Council, which found that cities and towns could still prosper in a post cheap oil world.

Lead author Steve Abley, of specialist transportation engineering and planning firm Abley Transportation Consultants, said that by far the biggest use of oil is petrol and diesel for private travel and freight.

“All towns and cities in New Zealand are oil dependent, but we know very little about how they plan for life when oil becomes much more expensive.

“This study is unique because it takes the oil resource debate from a theoretical position, and applies engineering and economic analytics to forecast what might happen in a post cheap oil environment.”

Abley said the study found that Palmerston North could be well placed to withstand an oil shock if it took steps now to reduce fuel use.

“With the right adaption techniques, Palmerston North has the opportunity to change while also maintaining economic momentum and resident lifestyles. There are other benefits too, such as improved health, community and lifestyle outcomes.

“In contrast, without lessening the demand for oil, Palmerston North would suffer severe economic impacts. Like a lot of cities and towns, it has never had to be energy resilient,” Abley said.

“The dominant conclusion is New Zealand can still be prosperous in a post cheap oil world, but there is increasing risk if the commitment to reduce transport fuel demand is deferred. “

Study co-author Dr Garry McDonald, a director of Market Economics Ltd, said that the number of people employed in Palmerston North could decline sharply if measures were not put in place to respond to a post cheap oil environment.

“Where one of the key inputs for an economy is removed, such as oil, there are effects on the supply of goods, and also on the demand for goods; the result is the economy slows down significantly.”

The report authors, including well know transition engineering advocate and University of Canterbury Associate Professor Dr Susan Krumdieck, believed the research was successful because it demonstrated prosperous ways to developing cities that are more energy efficient, resilient and viable.

The study also has application for other towns and cities in New Zealand and where some suburbs are particularly vulnerable to mortgage, petrol and inflation risks and expenditure increases. As part of the project, the authors undertook a vulnerability assessment of every suburb in New Zealand and ranked the vulnerability of those suburbs to each other. Some suburbsaround Rotorua were particularly vulnerable to price increases while others in Wellington were less susceptible. The results of the suburb vulnerability research are available at www.vampire.org.nz.

The best suburbs (or the least vulnerable) are:

RankArea Unit (suburb)City/District
1stRoseneathWellington City
2ndOriental BayWellington City
3rdOhakeaManawatu District
4thKelburnWellington City
5thThorndon-Tinakori RoadWellington City
6thWhangarei CentralWhangarei District
7thWoburn NorthLower Hutt City
8thTakapuna CentralNorth Shore City
9thHutt CentralLower Hutt City
10thMt Victoria WestWellington City

The worst suburbs (or the most vulnerable) are:

RankArea Unit (suburb)City/District
1739thPukehangi NorthRotorua District
1740thFordlandsRotorua District
1741stOroua BridgeManawatu District
1742ndKingsley-ChathamHastings District
1743rdTakapauCentral Hawke's Bay District
1744thWairakei-AratiatiaTaupo District
1745thOtaneCentral Hawke's Bay District
1746thMamakuRotorua District
1747thHikurangiWhangarei District
1748thAwanuiFar North District

ENDS

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