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Policy to tackle pollution from vehicle emissions

New policy to tackle growing air pollution from vehicle emissions

The Labour-Progressive Government, with the support of the Greens, will introduce a range of initiatives under a new policy to reduce growing air pollution from motor vehicle emissions in New Zealand, Associate Transport Minister Judith Tizard announced today.

"Air pollution from motor vehicles contributes to serious health problems, including asthma, heart disease and bronchitis", said Judith Tizard. "A NIWA report commissioned by the Ministry of Transport and released last year estimates that around 400 people die prematurely each year due to exposure to vehicle emissions.

"We are committed to tackling the environmental and health impacts associated with vehicle emissions in New Zealand. The health of New Zealanders and our clean, green and sustainable environment depend upon it."

In May this year, Judith Tizard announced that the government, in partnership with the Greens, local authorities and other stakeholders, was looking at a number of short-term and long-term proposals to bring down New Zealand's vehicle emissions levels as part of its commitment to achieving the vision of the New Zealand Transport Strategy. Judith Tizard said today that as a result of that work, she was pleased to announce the government's decision to introduce the following initiatives:

- Emissions screening of pre-used imported vehicles - at the New Zealand border to ensure minimum emissions performance at entry as part of pre-registration;

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- Emissions screening of in-service vehicles - regularly during their life on the road as part of warrant of fitness or certificate of fitness inspections; and

- Education - of vehicle users on the need for, and benefits of, regular vehicle maintenance and repair

The emissions screening initiatives will require the development of Land Transport rules. Further consultation will now be undertaken as part of the rule development process. It is expected that emissions screening of in-service vehicles will come into force in mid-to-late 2006.

"While we will be introducing an education campaign as part of this policy, from my perspective the education component of these initiatives starts today with this announcement," said Judith Tizard.

"It is vital that all vehicle owners and operators take responsibility to fix and regularly tune their vehicles and that they have the necessary information to do so. The benefits of regular maintenance include savings in the long-term on fuel and maintenance costs, and knowing that they and their neighbours will breathe easier."

Judith Tizard said the government would examine all relevant evidence and consider the viewpoints of interested parties before deciding on the details of the emissions screening initiatives.

"We have been encouraged by the feedback from those consulted in policy preparation to date and moving forward we will be listening to local authorities, political partners and others who are concerned about improving local air quality."

Judith Tizard said these new initiatives build on earlier initiatives that the government has already introduced to tackle vehicle pollution. They include:

- Changing fuel standards to reduce the sulphur content of diesel and petrol fuels, which are being phased in over the next three years and will help reduce vehicle emissions - Introducing a new Land Transport Rule, effective from 1 January 2004, that will ensure that vehicles entering New Zealand have been built to a recognised emissions standard - Increasing transport funding to tackle severe traffic congestion in key areas including key roading developments, public transport initiatives and walking and cycling promotion - Undertaking further research on the health impacts of vehicle emissions.

"Reducing air pollution from vehicle emissions is a complex issue, which requires an integrated package of solutions to fix it. The initiatives announced today will form a fundamental component of this package," said Judith Tizard.

Judith Tizard said the government would take a leading role on the vehicle emissions issue, by instigating a leadership programme.

"Officials from agencies including the Ministry for the Environment, Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority and Ministry of Transport are currently investigating options to demonstrate government leadership whereby central Government agencies would preferentially purchase low emissions and fuel efficient vehicles where this is reasonably practical and within operational requirements. Options being investigated would build on the current Energy Wise Government programme.

"I hope that fleet operators around New Zealand similarly look at ways that they can lead by example, and I invite all New Zealand vehicle owners to work with us on reducing vehicle emissions for the benefit of the country."

Further background information follows below, and can also be found at the website of the Ministry of Transport.


What are vehicle emissions?

Vehicles produce different types of emissions. These include noise, exhaust tailpipe emissions from the combustion of fuel in the engine after any subsequent exhaust system treatment, vapour emissions from the fuel and oil, oil from leaks, and dust particles from the wear of brakes, clutches and tyres.

These new vehicle emissions policy initiatives are designed to address the air quality related vehicle exhaust emissions such as carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, hydrocarbons and particulates, and the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

Why are vehicle emissions a problem?

Vehicle exhaust emissions are a significant contributor to local air pollution. Other contributors include domestic fires and industry. Exceedances of the New Zealand ambient air quality guidelines and international standards are regular in many urban areas, including regional centres.

Local air pollution from motor vehicles are a significant source of health problems, including asthma, heart disease and bronchitis and hospitalisations for respiratory problems. Recent research estimates that about 400 premature deaths occur each year as a result of motor vehicle emissions. This problem is nationwide but worse in urban centres with high traffic rates and congestion where a large segment of the population are exposed to air pollution.

Local air pollution also results in poor visibility, including smog and haze and erosion of building surfaces.

Vehicle exhaust emissions are also a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The domestic transport sector accounts for 45% of all CO2 emissions. Road transport is responsible for 89% of these total transport emissions and has increased an average of 4% per annum since 1990.

What are the vehicle emissions policy initiatives announced?

The Associate Minister of Transport, Hon Judith Tizard has announced initiatives to address the environmental and health impacts of vehicle exhaust emissions.

The vehicle emissions policy package includes: - Emissions screening of pre-used imported vehicles at the New Zealand border to ensure minimum emissions performance at entry as part of pre-registration; - Emissions screening of in-service vehicles regularly during their life on the road as part of Warrant of Fitness or Certificate of Fitness; - Education of vehicle users on the need for, and benefits of, vehicle maintenance.

Minimum emission performance standards will be established for all vehicles based on the vehicle age and class and reflecting the original emissions standard they were built to meet.

An evaluation programme is planned for 2004 that will provide detailed information that will contribute to development of emission performance standards and determine appropriate screening test processes. It will also assess the potential for social impacts of the inservice emissions screening initiative.

How does this vehicle emissions policy fit with the Government's broader objectives?

These vehicle emissions initiatives are consistent with the objectives of the New Zealand Transport Strategy in particular giving effect to the objectives of protecting and promoting public health and ensuring environmental sustainability. They also contribute to the Government's Climate Change Programme and the Sustainable Development Programme of Action.

What is the timeframe for implementing the vehicle emissions policy initiatives?

A three-year period is required for implementation of these policy initiatives.

Land Transport Rules need to be developed to enable emissions screening of imported used vehicles, and of the in-service fleet. This will take at least 18 months to 2 years, primarily due to public consultation requirements. Following this a 6 to 12 month period will be necessary to allow industry to set-up equipment and undertake training.

Public education campaigns will occur in the period before emission screening becomes compulsory. Compulsory emissions screening at the border and as part of the Warrant or Certificate of Fitness are expected to be implemented from mid to late 2006.

Does New Zealand have existing vehicle emissions legislation?

Until very recently there were no specific legal requirements setting out vehicle emissions standards in New Zealand transport law.

The Minister of Transport recently signed the Land Transport Vehicle Exhaust Emission Rule 2003 (33001), and it was gazetted in September 2003. The Rule will come into force from 1 January 2004 for light vehicles and from 2006 for heavy vehicles. It requires all vehicles entering New Zealand to be manufactured to an approved emissions standard from the United States, Europe, Japan or Australia. The new rule provides a foundation for further measures, such as emissions screening and public education, to reduce vehicle emissions and the associated impact on air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and adverse health impacts.

More information on this is available and can be found at this Beehive webpage.

If there is a new rule for vehicle emissions why are these further initiatives needed?

Despite the majority of vehicles entering the New Zealand fleet being built to an accepted international emissions standard, and this becoming a compliance condition of entry to the fleet from 1 January 2004, there is no certainty that used imported vehicles have not deteriorated to such an extent that they are entering New Zealand as 'gross' polluting vehicles, or that originally required emission control equipment, such as catalytic converters, has not been removed.

Vehicles already in the New Zealand fleet may also deteriorate due to a lack of maintenance or due to tampering with fuel systems or emission control equipment. This can also result in vehicles becoming gross polluters. The average age of the New Zealand vehicle fleet is 12 years, therefore there is significant scope to improve the emissions performance of vehicles throughout their service life by identifying those vehicles that are gross polluters and ensuring they are repaired. A recent study the Auckland Regional Council and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) demonstrated this. The remote sensing methods used identified that the most polluting 10% of vehicles were responsible for between 40 to 50% of the vehicle pollutants. High emission levels were associated with greater vehicle age and kilometres travelled. Addressing this 10% will bring about c

Who should be interested in the vehicle emissions policy?

Anyone who: - imports vehicles into New Zealand; - owns and/or operates a vehicle, or is planning to purchase a vehicle; - repairs, tunes or maintains a vehicle, such as mechanics and "do-it-yourself" mechanics; - is concerned about the environment, particularly air quality, greenhouse gases and health impacts from air pollution.

What are the benefits from the vehicle emissions policy?

The benefits of reduced vehicle emissions will include improvements to local air quality, a reduction in premature deaths and morbidity due to air pollution, reduced fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions.

All vehicle owners will benefit in the long term from their vehicle being regularly maintained and the resulting savings in fuel consumption and frequency of major repairs.

What class of vehicle will be affected?

Both light and heavy vehicles that operate on petrol or diesel will be screened for emissions. Border screening will focus on used imported vehicles as some of these vehicles may have deteriorated to an unacceptable level since they were manufactured. All vehicles already in the New Zealand fleet will also be screened on a regular basis as part of the existing Warrant/Certificate of Fitness (WoF/CoF) system.

The inclusion of vehicles using alternative fuels such as CNG and LPG will be considered as part of the rule development process.

How will emissions performance be checked?

The intentions of the vehicle emissions screening initiatives are to identify gross polluting vehicles and to ensure they are repaired to meet a minimum acceptable emissions performance limit appropriate for that type of vehicle, based on its age, the engine technology, the fuel used and any emissions standard it was originally built to meet.

The emissions screening will be included as part of the current Warrant of Fitness and Certificate of Fitness system, and the existing vehicle certification required for used imported vehicles. Details of the emissions screening procedures will be investigated as part of the rule development process.

The time required for emissions screening, and the likely cost to motor vehicle owners depends on the type of screening test adopted. It is estimated that the cost of emissions screening per vehicle will be in the order of $4 on top of existing WoF/CoF fees, but no greater than $10. Emissions screening is likely to take an extra 15 minutes per vehicle.

What will happen if a vehicle fails the emissions screening test?

Any vehicle failing the emissions screening test, either at a border certification inspection, or as part of a Warrant or Certificate of Fitness, would need to be repaired and then retested. Indicative vehicle repair costs have been estimated in the range of $50 - $500, but could be more. A small number of vehicles would not be able to be cost-effectively repaired and would need to be removed from the road. The type and cost of repairs likely to be needed by different vehicle classes will be investigated further as part of the development of the screening initiatives.

As a vehicle owner am I required to change anything yet?

You can improve the way you look after your car and save on fuel bills. Get into good vehicle maintenance habits now. If you regularly tune your vehicle and repair it when necessary, you will breathe easier and may save money on fuel and long-term maintenance costs.

It is not too early to reduce vehicle emissions.

Public education campaigns will allow time for vehicle owners to ensure their vehicles are well maintained and operating as cleanly and efficiently as possible before the introduction of compulsory emissions screening.

How can I do my part to reduce vehicle emissions?

You can do a lot just by keeping your vehicle tuned and fixing it when it needs it. You can also do a lot by trying to be a more efficient driver. For example, by not using your vehicle during times of high traffic congestion, you can reduce both the amount of fuel used and the amount of exhaust emissions created.

Exhaust emissions can be decreased by: - Better maintaining your vehicle - Where practical, switching to using cleaner, lower emitting or emission-free fuels - Using low emission engines (built to modern emission standards) and vehicles fitted with efficient emissions control equipment (such as catalytic converters and particulate traps on vehicle exhaust pipes) - Using transport alternatives, especially in urban areas where buses and trains are available. Consider walking or cycling for short journeys. - Using your vehicle at off-peak times.

How are these vehicle emissions screening initiatives different to the smoky vehicle rule?

Many vehicle exhaust emissions are invisible, but affect air quality and have health impacts. Smoky vehicles are only one portion of the gross polluting vehicles.

These vehicle emissions screening initiatives and public education target those vehicles that are gross polluting vehicles, but that are harder to spot because the emissions are not visible to the human eye. The existing smoky vehicle 10-second rule provided by Traffic Regulations will continue to apply.

What will happen now?

Details of the emissions screening initiatives for used imported vehicles and inservice vehicles will be developed further. To do this an evaluation programme is planned that will gather further detailed information of the emissions performance and profile of the New Zealand vehicle fleet. This will initially test vehicles on a voluntary basis at selected sites around New Zealand and will contribute to the development of emissions performance standards.

Land Transport Rules need to be developed to implement the mandatory screening for used imported vehicles as they enter New Zealand and for inservice vehicles as part of the WoF/CoF system.

There are likely to be at least two stages in the rule development process, outlining these initiatives in more detail. A discussion paper and draft rule(s) will be prepared and released for public consultation. Consultation will be publicly notified in major daily newspapers and will be available on the Ministry of Transport website. It is expected that the initial stage of public consultation is likely to occur in early 2004.

Where can I get more information about vehicle emissions?

The following websites have significant amounts of New Zealand information, as well as links to international information. Ministry of Transport EECA Ministry for the Environment NZ Climate Change Programme Ministry of Economic Develoment

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