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Government must use rail for climate change mitigation

CEAC political press release 9th August 2019.

The latest political polls suggest that Labour are losing support for a second term Government.

We at CEAC have been for 19 years fighting to restore the regional rail services on the East Coast from Gisborne to the ‘main trunk line’ at the Palmerston North rail hub, so we can use rail to export-import/distribute our 35% of all NZ’s export products that we in Gisborne/HB collectively produce every year.

Rail is a far more fuel efficient mode of transport to move every tonne each km than truck freight is, while rail emits far less GHG (greenhouse gases) to help fight climate change, and produces no tyre dust air pollution which causes cancer and nervous system damage as tyres are made from petroleum and is a form of plastic synthetic nylon, while trains have ‘steel wheels on a steel track’ = no wheel air pollution being emitted.

Today on the news we see that the Local Government (LGNZ National Council) is calling on the Central Government to put into place a “National climate policy” and give financial support for the regions to use to combat the effects and causes of climate change.

We searched for a Government financial policy for regional local Governments to request assistance from and only found this older (mfe) ‘Ministry for the Environment’ document.

https://www.mfe.govt.nz/climate-change/climate-change-guidance/guidance-local-government-preparing-climate-change

This Local Government (LGNZ National Council) call to Government to produce a clear National Climate Change policy fits exactly what our CEAC Environment Centre has been requesting of successive governments for all those last 19 years and we commend local Government for making the call today.

We recall;

PM Jacinda Ardern stood on the Auckland Town Hall Podium in that memorable first pre-election speech in September 2017 saying “Climate Change is our generations nuclear moment” and said “lets do this” but so far we have not seen any real “National climate policy” even in the Governments ‘year of delivery’ before the 2020 election which is fast approaching, so we are reinforcing the local Government (LGNZ National Council) call to Central Government to get a ‘National Climate change policy’ in place now.

Firstly Government now needs to heed the recommendations in the ‘Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’ (PCE) 2005 report to Governmenthttps://www.pce.parliament.nz/media/pdfs/Hawkes-Bay-Expressway-Noise-and-air
-quality-issues-June-2005.pdf

The (PCE) report (link above) calls for a more integrated approach that promotes alternatives such as buses, cycles, and trains and a greater co-ordination between land use and transport planning.

So as history shows; that when the last Labour Government in 2005 under PM Helen Clark received the PCE report above from the PCE in 2005 with those recommendations to make more use of rail then on ‘HB export transport activities to Napier Port’ recommending to use rail to reduce the increase of the national truck fleet inventory, Labour did respond then, as PM Helen Clark and Michael Cullen as Finance Minister moved to buy back our former NZ Rail infrastructure in 2007/8 which was a great start for restoring our regional rail infrastructure again after years of languishing in a dysfunctional privatisation model that did nothing but “defer all maintenance” on the rail infrastructure and sell parts of it off slowly until the whole network was at risk of collapsing. - During the National Government nine years rail was left to die a slow death with most of the regional rail funding redistricted to the Auckland/Wellington passenger rail services only.

So finally Winston Peters our Deputy PM, and Leader of NZ First is now with his Minister of Regional Development the Firebrand MP Shane Jones actually the only part of Government who are actually promoting rail by using the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) to lower our carbon footprint from overuse of truck freight still today expanding unchecked today.

Government should instead restore all adequate funding for our restoration of all regional rail to all our regions that produce all of NZ’s exports such as Gisborne/HB does, to increase our economic wealth, while lowering the GHG emissions from transport that is still not being reduced since Labour took over in 2017.

“Lets do this”


ends

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