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Government misses opportunity to reduce vehicle emissions

 

The motor vehicle industry is extremely disappointed that the government has missed a golden opportunity to seriously deal with vehicle emissions and has instead proceeded with a policy that it knows will increase the cost of vehicles, drive up the average age of the fleet, worsen air pollution and potentially cost lives.

“The government has gone ahead with a flawed policy despite there being overwhelming industry, public-health and parliamentary support for the tough new emissions testing regime to reduce air pollution that we have been pushing for,” David Vinsen, chief executive of the Independent Motor Vehicle Dealers’ Association (IMVDA) said today.

“Associate transport minister Judith Tizard has told the Herald on Sunday that her policy will increase the cost of vehicles, and she has told NZPA that it will increase the average age of the fleet.  The policy will therefore inevitably increase air pollution, potentially costing lives.  That is the view of the government’s own economic advisors, Covec, and of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER).

“Even government officials believe the policy will take 16-18 years to reduce air pollution, in which time up to 9,000 New Zealanders will have died prematurely from air pollution, according to the government’s own estimates.”

Mr Vinsen said there were some signs that the government has listened to the research and facts with respect to petrol vehicles.

“We are pleased that the government has accepted independent studies showing that harsh, immediate bans on fresh petrol vehicles would have been counter-productive,” he said.  “Ministers appear to have recognised that only by allowing fresh, reasonably-priced petrol vehicles into New Zealand will people be able to afford to continue replacing old clunkers and reduce air pollution.”

However, Mr Vinsen said there was no rational reason why the same logic had not been applied to imports of fresh diesel vehicles.

“The government’s draconian measures mean the supply of almost all private and commercial diesel vehicles will be stopped and the price of those allowed will be double or triple what people are paying for fresh used vehicles now.  As a result, smoky old diesel trucks will stay on our roads for many years longer, worsening air pollution.  When diesels are eventually replaced at these much higher prices, the extra costs will be passed onto consumers, increasing prices of all goods and services across the economy.

“It is quite clear that the decision on diesels is irrational and unreasonable, and one that no sensible person who had applied their mind to air-pollution issues could have arrived at.”

Mr Vinsen said a better way forward would be for the government to deal seriously with the very real issue of pollution from the vehicles that are currently on our roads.

“It makes no sense that the government has not seriously considered our Clean Air Plan, but we are pleased that officials have indicated in the last week that our ideas are on their work programme for 2008.  We look forward to working constructively with officials, ministers and our colleagues from across the motor-vehicle and related industries to achieve the implementation of a proper plan to reduce vehicle emissions as soon as possible.”

The IMVDA’s Clean Air Plan, detailed at www.crazycar.co.nz, calls for the government to:

1.    Enforce all current rules across the whole vehicle fleet at inspection (WoF and CoF), and at the roadside

2.    Introduce scientific emissions testing for all vehicles in the fleet

3.    Encourage the scrapping of older, unsafe, dirty vehicles with tougher enforcement and economic incentives

4.    Introduce incentives to encourage people to buy cleaner vehicles, as proposed by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development

5.    Do these things NOW

Mr Vinsen said the plan would save lives.  He emphasised that testing would apply both to the existing fleet and to all fresh imports.


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