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MTA Calls On Government To Fine-tune Climate Change Commission Final Advice To Avoid Unintended Consequences On The Road

Minister James Shaw today released the Final Advice of the Climate Change Commission on how to address climate change. The Motor Trade Association (MTA) says the Government’s response will need to fine-tune the final advice to avoid unintended consequences on New Zealand’s roads.

Craig Pomare said, “MTA and our members support the Government’s climate change goals. And we welcome the Commission’s recognition that a wide range of low carbon vehicles should be part of the transition and that people need convenient and affordable transport alternatives. However, we are disappointed that the Commission does not specifically address the existing fleet or the removal of old polluting vehicles.”

MTA remains concerned that unless a co-ordinated whole-of-life approach is taken to reducing transport emissions, from import, through in-service to end of life, the Government’s Road to Zero Vision where no one is killed or seriously injured in road crashes, is at risk.

“We need to address climate change and the safety of New Zealanders on the road, and we need to implement initiatives at every stage in the life of a vehicle,” said Pomare. “The logic is simple, import the best available technologies; keep the current fleet clean, and get the vehicles that are at the end of their life out of the fleet. If we do this properly, we can reduce emissions and keep New Zealanders, especially New Zealanders who depend on their cars but can’t afford an EV and don’t have alternative transport options, safe on the road.”

Pomare says, “We estimate that in 2030 the cost of imported vehicles will be around 22% more than today and EVs will remain at a premium. EVs will simply be out of reach for many New Zealanders and as a result they will be obliged to keep their already aging cars longer and face a greater risk of involvement in fatal crashes.”

MTA’s review of Waka Kotahi NZTA data shows that more than 50% of vehicles over 15 years old fail their WOFs. In the past 10 years the average age of a vehicle involved in a fatal crash with a contributing vehicle factor was around 13 years old.

A 2016 Ministry of Transport study looking at fatal crashes concluded that the victims’ vehicles were, on average, significantly older than any other vehicles involved.

MTA is disappointed that its recommendations to introduce emissions testing to vehicle servicing to ensure the existing five million vehicles are running as cleanly as possible, and development of a scrappage scheme to remove the worst vehicles from the fleet have not been included in the Final Advice.

Pomare says, “The Commission acknowledges in one sentence in 419 pages that the existing fleet should be considered at some point but doesn’t make any specific recommendations.”

The Climate Change Commission Final Advice, at section 14.2.2, says “Once the emissions efficiency of vehicles entering the fleet has been addressed, the Government will need to consider actions that address the emissions from the existing ICE vehicle fleet. This will be important because of the slow turnover of vehicles in Aotearoa.”

“If we want to refresh the fleet and keep moving emissions lower, then we need to look at the existing fleet and make room for those newer, cleaner cars by removing the cars that are currently causing the problem,” said Pomare.

At an average of 14 years old, New Zealand’s vehicle fleet is old relative to most OECD countries. The dominance of used imports has reduced the cost of vehicle ownership for low-income households.

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