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Snail Like Progress On Government Vehicle Emissions Targets

First published in Energy and Environment on June 2, 2020.

The latest data on the Government’s attempts to reduce the emissions of its transport fleet show no discernible progress.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s data on reducing vehicle emissions has been released for the 2019/20 financial year for the fourth quarter. Total estimated emissions are now 2,688,453 CO2 (g/km) from 2,689,439 in FY-19/20 Q3. This is above where they were at the end of the 2018/19 financial year and just a bit below where they were when the data started being recorded part way through the 2018/19 financial year.

The average emissions per vehicle were very slightly down to 162.13 CO2 (g/km) from the last quarter’s 162.49. The percentage of electric vehicles is now 0.68% compared to 0.64% in the previous quarter, while the overall fleet size grew slightly from 15,834 to 15,870.

There was no analysis or press statement released with the data.

When announced the goal was that, where practicable, the government's fleet should be emissions free by 2025/26. This aligns with the government’s priority to transition to a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

The tracking graphs show to meet that target, fleet emissions should be now near 2.1m CO2 (g/km) not stuck near the 2.7m CO2 (g/km) where they started.

In the early months departments said they faced similar problems to others in taking up electric vehicles in that they were more expensive, the models available did not match needs and there were concerns about range.

Ministers wrote a series of letters and requirements without seeming effect and then adjusted the procurement rules. This now means when agencies come to purchase replacement vehicles from the All-of-Government motor vehicles contract, they must target the purchase of vehicles with carbon dioxide (CO2) emission profiles 20% below their agency’s current fleet average.

“Where practicable” means any vehicle that can be replaced with a low emissions alternative whilst meeting operational requirements.

It may also be covid-19 has had an impact of plans, but within the agencies there was progress both forward and backwards. TVNZ cuts it fleet size and average emissions per vehicle, while NIWA increased its average emissions.

First published in Energy and Environment on June 2, 2020.

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