Today, children are striking, and demanding of us, “If you won’t act like adults, we will.”

Their letter says poignantly:

Soon we will inherit the consequences of this inaction, and we are scared. Will we have a planet worth passing on to our children? Will we face global conflicts because of resource scarcity?…

A worthy petition, indeed, and I hope readers will step up to sign it.

At the other end of the age spectrum, we have also seen this week:

NZ First is slowing progress on the Government’s proposed climate change legislation… NZ First MPs were not keen to see a non-political Climate Change Commission given Reserve Bank-like powers to independently set carbon budgets. The party’s MPs … want to make the law credible but not set agricultural emissions targets to the level preferred by the Green Party. The source described NZ First as essentially to the right of the National Party on the issue.

What a juxtaposition.

If steps we need to take now mean the economy will take a hit, let’s take that hit like adults, instead of leaving it to our children to try to direct change later, when they’re also having to cope with more consequences of climate change, and their costs. In the process, we’ll be setting them up for the most economic success, because:

  • innovators of low-carbon solutions will have the best chance of success if they are not having to compete with subsidised polluters offering a cheaper product, and
  • places such as Europe will increasingly (where it suits them) be favouring trade partners who have taken the same sort of commitment to combating climate change that they have.

The students ask for transparency, and I second that: Adults are more likely to change their behaviour, and vote responsibly for our children’s future, if we are given good data about the carbon emissions trends due to our behaviour, uncomplicated by sector exemptions, forestry harvests, cross-sector mitigation, and carbon credit purchases.

To cut through the complexity, I believe we should present the data for each sector in turn, while simultaneously understanding the relative contribution of each sector. And this is because in a couple of decades’ time, success would look like this:

  • we will be living low carbon lifestyles, made easier by
  • built infrastructure that supports low carbon lifestyles, and
  • low-carbon business, farming, industrial, municipal and transport practices.

There’s no place in that vision for sluggishness. Any sector whose emissions are hidden needs exposure. Policies need to be altered now to get those emissions on track, and the necessary changes in behaviour, infrastructure and planning happening. There’s plenty that can be said of agriculture and land-use in general, but for now I’d like to hone in on transport. Where does it sit in the overall emissions picture?

The next three graphs are from the New Zealands Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990 – 2016. New figures for 2017 will be released in April 2019. Excluding the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF), the inventory shows that the absolute change in emissions for the broad categories since 1990 are:


(IPPU = Industrial Processes and Product Use.)

Clearly the energy sector is a huge contributor. Put as gross emissions, this is:


How does it compare with our commitments? The 2017 briefing to the incoming Minister for the Environment, James Shaw said:

New Zealand ratified the Paris Agreement in October 2016 and it is now in force. The Agreement requires New Zealand to take on progressively more ambitious targets as milestones on a transition to a low emissions economy. New Zealand has communicated its first target under the Agreement, to reduce emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 (corresponding to approximately 11 per cent reduction on 1990 levels). New Zealand also has a target, set in 2011, to reduce emissions to 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

If energy was to take its share of this reduction, this means:

By 2030, our energy sector emissions will need to be down to about 21000 kt CO2-e

By 2050, our energy sector emissions will need to be down to about 12000 kt CO2-e.

Have a look at where those figures sit on the graph above. Is this possible simply with conversion to sustainable energy production? To understand if we could get on track, we need to understand the contribution from each sector within energy. The inventory says:

Emissions from road transport, which are included in the Energy sector, make up 17.3 per cent of gross emissions.

Yet look at how transport’s emissions have grown:

This growth in emissions is primarily from Road transportation, which increased by 6,137.3 kt CO 2 -e (82.1 per cent), Chemicals, which increased by 1,416.1 kt CO 2 -e (256.0 per cent), and Food processing, beverages and tobacco, which increased by 1,126.8 kt CO 2 -e (67.9 per cent). Emissions from the categories. Manufacture of solid fuels and other energy industries and Public electricity and heat production both decreased appreciably below their 1990 levels, by 1,446.1 kt CO 2 -e (−84.0 per cent) and 463.6 kt CO 2 -e (−13.2 per cent) respectively.

One glaring omission from the inventory is a graph showing the road transport emissions since 1990. In case you think the increases happened early on, and have stabilised now that we have more fuel efficient cars, think again. The jump in road transport carbon emissions between the 2014/15 year and the 2015/16 year was 2.5%. That’s not heading in the right direction, and it’s larger than population increase, too.

What the inventory does give is this chart:


So transport emissions are increasing, and compromising the results of both the overall energy sector and the fuel combustion categories . And with other industry sectors also needing to drop their emissions, it doesn’t seem possible that electrification of the fleet is getting to the core of the problem here – all these sectors will also be trying to reduce their carbon emissions through electrification.

So why is transport performing so poorly? (These emissions aren’t even including our international air travel!)

The next few graphs are from the Ministry of Transport. Here’s a chart of how our driving has increased as a country:


I don’t have these figures back to 1990, but the 2030 target is 30 per cent below 2005 levels.

If road transport was taking its share of the reductions required, and we did this by reducing our travel, we’d need to reduce our vehicle km travelled to 28 billion km by 2030. From the above graph, it appears that instead of reducing, we’re not levelling off, and the rate of increase in our vkt is increasing.

Note that our carbon commitments are not per capita, so we have to solve this on a total vkt and total emissions basis. That requires extra focus.

In future posts I’ll look at solutions for transport in different regions. But just briefly, for Auckland:

The Auckland Plan 2050 has sufficient policy around reducing our greenhouse gas emissions from transport.

Can we act like adults and make this happen?

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88 comments

  1. Yeah, nah! We should take action when the UK, the US and western Europe take steps to remove as much carbon as they have polluted for the last 200 years. They did it. they can fix it.

        1. GA time to permaban this lunatic he’s been talking shit in comments for 10 years undermining this blogs whole concept of promoting better.

          He’s predictably going to come back with some Jordan Peterson fear itself shtick, but today; we can’t appease and tolerate this sort of thing from anonymous cowards.

        2. You can’t ban someone because they don’t agree with you though. He might come out with with nonsense, especially when it comes to Climate Change and cutting his trees down (the irony of saving yourself by cutting down the one thing we need) and living on a hill. You need to see conflicting views sometimes to reassure yourself you’re right about things!

        3. Felix, thanks for asking for high standards. Without having ever met miffy, I imagine he was trying to point out that ageism and racism are both forms of prejudice. I’ve certainly seen him argue against racism here as well. The intergenerational aspects of climate change make it tricky to discuss without reference to possible prejudices stemming from experience and age. Maybe, in a spirit of love and compassion following yesterday’s hate tragedy, we should all try harder to avoid trying to pigeon hole people or use terms that could be seen as abusive or prejudiced. I’ll certainly be trying harder.

    1. If everybody takes the attitude that they don’t want to be the first to take the steps, nothing will happen. Someone has to lead.
      Besides, if we can actually innovate instead of trailing behind the world like NZ is wont to do, it could actually mean a boost to our economy.

      1. There is no boost. We live in a country funded by ruminants and long distance air travel. We can be wealthy and make no difference to global warming or we can impoverish ourselves and make no difference to global warming. Just find a home higher than sea level and cut down any big trees so that don’t fall on your home. That is really all we can do that makes a difference.

        1. Unfortunately ‘taking action’ usually becomes ‘Let’s punish people trying to fill a tank to get to work where they can barely make ends meet as it is; but still gear our entire country towards tourism which requires a simply massive amount of carbon emissions directly into the atmosphere’.

        2. “There is no boost.”

          I think you need to justify that now.

          Instead, there is no benefit from continuing to ruin our ecosystems with poor agricultural practice. There is no benefit to remaining car dependent when so many people have limited access, poor health from limited physical activity, and our safety stats are so bad as a result.

        3. I reckon the $14 to $36 billion we will be paying for carbon credits in the next ten years is a good example of a ‘dead weight’.

        4. Ah Miffy, or Mike, or Donald or whatever. What do YOU want to see, after all ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’. Out of interest, where do you actually stand on Climate Change? Not what money an economy can make or lose, or what some condescending picture you have of anyone that is trying, as small as it may be to reduce their footrpint about wearing straw shirts. What do you want to see when it comes to climate change?

        5. Joe that is like asking me where i stand on evolution or erosion through glaciation or tectonic drift. I accept it occurs, I believe there is nothing meaningful I could do to stop it. I could do something people might think is meaningful but that won’t stop it or make any difference at all. I live in a country where kids go to school hungry, where there is never sufficient tax to do the things that are needed, where the cost of living is high and where the main source of external income comes from exporting cholesterol and encouraging people to fly very long distances to come here. I don’t see any point in making life harder or more expensive just to make a few enthusiasts feel good about themselves. Even if we went totally carbon free and stopped exporting and stopped tourism the planet will probably still warm. So learn to live with it. I am ready. I don’t live by the sea and I have cut down three large trees that could blow over and I will get rid of two more this year.

        6. I understand Miffy, however you’re wrong about enthusiasts and feeling good about yourself and I’m quite positive the next generation will very much prove you wrong. I do hope you still enjoy life though and aren’t hiding away in some tree less bunker…and I mean that with sincerity! 🙂

        7. Miffy, you might not have noted the point that the EU will be more and more likely to require its trading partners to be carbon neutral, If you want to stay rich and be supported by ruminants you might have to live in a car-free neighbourhood.

    2. Even if our kids will be better off economically by taking action now, miffy? And it’s hard to argue that they wouldn’t be… driving is the most expensive transport mode. Setting them up for more transport options now will benefit our kids economically. Ditto in agriculture. Far cheaper to avoid losing all that soil carbon and ruining all those ecosystems by adopting sustainable mixed use practices. Same thing for industry…

    3. Completely agree, it really makes no difference what NZ does in the general scheme of things, we aren’t even a drop in the bucket.

    4. I used to think something a bit like this. Among the problems is that it still leaves us exposed to the really very bad effects if they do nothing, or not enough. Which seems increasingly likely.

      Now I think we need to take an adaptation first approach. How do we rebuild our transport infrastructure now, so that we still have reliable resilient transport infrastructure when we can’t afford to put another single kilogram of CO2 in the atmosphere? How do we rebuild our electricity infrastructure in the same way? What will we generate electricity from once there isn’t enough snow-melt to fill our hydro lakes?

      How do we adapt our stormwater and waterways for when Auckland is no longer a subtropical climate, and gets regular tropical rainstorms? How can we adapt city streets to allow the water to drain through the soil, instead of trying to manage run-off? Can we plant enough climate-resilient trees in our cities to provide shade and reduce the heat-island effect?

      And so on…

      1. And that is what I am talking about when I said innovate. We can force our bright minds to think about this, force the oh-so-powerful car lobby to think about this… Whatever we think up could be the answer that can be applied globally…

    5. So, miffy, essentially you are saying that because we can’t do much we might as well do nothing.

      I find that attitude to be profoundly and depressingly defeatist.

  2. I’d like o see these targets baked into the legislation governing both Auckland Transport and NZTA.

  3. I’d like to see these targets baked into the legislation that governs NZTA and Auckland Transport. And from there, into KPIs for executives, and on down through the ranks.

    Want to build a new harbour crossing? Demonstrate how it contributes to reducing carbon emissions by 30% below 2005 levels. Want to do, well, anything else? Same question.

    And they need annual targets as well, so it’s not just “nothing..nothing…nothing…magic electric vehicles!”

    1. Yes, and ATAP needs rewriting, because the road building in that is causing Auckland’s vkt increases. This needs to be tackled. First strategy for AT and AC must be pressing government to get ATAP changed. There are some radical moves internationally along these lines which I hope to blog about at some stage. Auckland doesn’t need to be a dinosaur – it has the chance to gain an international reputation for turning things from dangerous, unsustainable and inequitable to safe, sustainable and equitable.

    1. and just 10 minutes ago in the drop off area just outside the oncology entrance at Auckland hospital a diesel minibus sat engine idling for over 15 minutes, the driver had a fag while waiting on some patients. The fumes filled the entrance lobby.

      1. Now that is a problem that we can actually do something about. We need to address particulates. I suggest a law requiring anyone who imports a diesel engine carries the cost replacing the rings as needed. It would increase the upfront cost but it would avoid having so many shitty old diesels in NZ. The irony is the EU encouraged diesels as a means to reduce carbon. Bring on Brexit and I hope a bunch of other countries follow the Brits out.

        1. Ah I remember that. For a short while buying a car with a diesel engine was cheaper than buying a similar car with a petrol engine (due to tax incentives), and diesel was also much cheaper at the pump. Then they announced some other tax will be proportional to CO₂ emissions.

          Times changed rather quickly. Diesel prices have caught up with petrol prices. Cities are figuring out there are other pollutants beyond CO₂.

          As a mere citizen you can’t win this game.

        1. Your true colours come out when you start to say that its mainly immigrants from non-developed Countries. So are you suggesting I’m ok as an immigrant from the UK who used to commute to work in a car 60km every day but now I walk in NZ? But if you came from Syria for instance and now you are an Uber driver, you’re not welcome? Or are you suggesting I’m not welcome too?

        2. Joe, as an immigrant from the UK you would likely be using a similar amount of resources/emissions there as you would do here.
          So you used to commute 60km to work in the UK? Well guess what people who commute from places like Warkworth or Pukekohe etc are doing? Nevermind those in Hamilton or those commuting to Wellington from the Kapiti Coast etc. you might personally have chosen to set up close to the city centre, but a lot of the appeal to immigrants from places like the UK are our semi-rural areas or suburbia.
          [rest of comment deleted]

  4. We seem to have a world of two types of principals, don’t we? Some respect the need for action, and see the positive educational experiences being part of a strike brings.

    Others have disciplined students found organising groups to strike, and are scare-mongering amongst students and parents alike to try to prevent kids going to the rally today.

    With parents’ approval, kids taking time off is just like parents taking their kids on holidays during term time. It’s an ‘Explained Absence” and shouldn’t provide any justification for disciplinary action unless it becomes common (as an example, a young friend of mine took most of two terms off due to depression before Truancy got involved.)

    Once upon a time we had regressive, too-powerful employers trying to stop the workers’ union movement, too.

    Overbearing and conservative principals: Act like you’re educated adults, please, aware of the issues, and of the history of repression.

  5. So the graph fig 3.1.1 says energy is 30,000 kt co2-e and then you say we need to reduce to 21,000 kt co2-e by 2030. And it looks like from graph 3.3.1 that we have increased emissions for transport by 6000 kt co2-e since 1990. It makes my head spin a bit. Is there a better way to sell this no wonder the general public is ignoring it.
    Could we just come up with a figure like at the moment the average vehicle kilometers traveled per year is 10,000 kms we would like you to reduce that 7000 kms per year or maybe better still we want people to reduce there travel by x percent. Most people would have some idea of how many kms they travel per year it is written down when you get an oil change for instance.
    I see you have stated that overall vehicle kms need to reduce from 42 billion to 2.8 billion is that right. Seems pretty savage and unobtainable.

    1. Thanks, Royce. Will fix that… just trying to scale back in proportion to the general targets… Will change to 28 billion! (Currently functioning sub-par due to having lost my glasses…)

  6. Many many years ago NZ was visited by US Secretary of State, (Dean Rusk?) trying to persuade New Zealand to send more soldiers to Vietnam. Many years later in his memoirs he said that the size of the protest outside his accommodation and Parliament opened his eyes that in spite of his own government’s assessment that New Zealanders were strongly with the US on the Vietnam war this was at best questionable. He later credited this with his starting his own turn around towards eventually favouring US withdrawal.
    The only thing that achieves nothing, is nothing.
    Go to it youngsters, it is going to be your world a lot longer then those who are trying to persuade you not to protest.

  7. Okay so that’s a reduction of 14 billion km or 33 percent. So if your doing 10,000 kms you need to reduce to 6,666 kms is that right. Actually looking at the graph more closely its more like 45 billion kilometers but anyway is this an approach we could take. I can see carless days being an option it actually worked back in the 1970’s.

    1. I went for 30% less than the 2005 level, which I took as roughly 40 billion.

      Carless days may have a place, but the best thing AT could do is reallocate funding from unsustainable modes to sustainable modes. We get what we invest in. If we build roads, vkt and carbon emissions rise. If we stop building roads, narrow what we already have, and reallocate that space to walking, cycling, scootering… then those modes will grow instead.

      What AT and NZTA are currently doing – inducing more vkt with widening roads, intersections and building more roads – is undermining all four priorities of the GPS:
      – Environment (because of the carbon emissions along with many other factors)
      – Safety (because all this extra vkt is making it less safe everywhere in the city)
      – Access – because the car dependency from this rising vkt limits what people can do. Sitting in congestion isn’t access. Feeling the roads are too unsafe to let your kids cycle to school is not access.
      – Value-for-money because the road projects are costing billions, while undermining every safety and cycling project, and requiring more such projects just to keep safety level.

      1. Our transport spending is governed by the modal allocations in the RLTP, so AT really has no say in how much can be spent on the different modes. I would say the RLTP does not go nearly far enough in the direction we need to go and still the majority of spending is on roads, even with the current government. This needs to change, and I feel we really need emergency climate change legislation to change it. All motorway and road widening projects could be immediately halted or on hold to ensure they are not adding new private car capacity. Unfortunately my understanding is that business cases for large projects are still evaluated using a BCR which uses private vehicle travel time savings as a key ‘benefit’. Therefore any street improvement that doesn’t at least keep the current level of vehicle flow will be unlikely to make it past the business case stage.

    2. Royce, or we could build travel around public transport. Vienna has a target of car mode share of 20% by 2025. Auckland seems to have a car mode share of about 80% and static, at best.
      Some may find this enormously disruptive, but so might they find adverse weather events causing NZ 2% of its GDP, or more.

      1. All good stuff but maybe we can ask people very nicely to drive less as well then they won’t think they are being herded into public transport. I expect you will find there are an awful lot of unnecessary journeys being made out there people need to be more mindful around the use of their cars. We have had public campaigns before for example when hydro levels are low, water restrictions etc. That said I fully support the use of public transport and I use it nearly every day. And yes weather events are the big worry. Ask people in Golden Bay about Gita and now they have a drought its frightening. And Hedi less car carnage is another benefit that driving less will bring.

  8. Ahhh, nothing like a positive morning ruined by Climate Change deniers disguised as ‘its not as bad as we think, its just scare mongering’ and people that say we can’t make a difference her in little old New Zealand. Just be honest guys, you don’t want it to hit your pocket and your way of life, you simply do not want to change. Life is easier when you are honest…Hell, maybe I just want to be seen as a do-gooder, a virtue signaler or a green washer, to be on my high horse…but at least it’s for something positive.

    Stop thinking of yourself as a Country, its just a makeup term for somewhere we live. You are a person and most importantly, you are a consumer. Change the way you consume and you don’t need Carbon Bills and political targets, consumer demand takes care of that.

    Eat less meat, consumeless Dairy, use a combustion engine less, waste less. All really easy steps that aren’t going to affect your lives that much, some of it will even save you money..you just have to be willing to change, and if Children see us changing our habits, they will take on those habits and the way we consume will be passed down to them as the ‘norm’. Doesn’t need a country to do this, just needs education of people. Nobody is saying be a vegan and sell your car, so stop pretending that is what is going to happen.

    Last but not least, stop labelling people who are mindful of their Carbon Footprint as ‘Greenies’, labels stop normalization. Our children need to see this as the norm and not some alternative way of life.

  9. How many of those young adults will give up:
    travelling by car
    travelling by plane
    consumer electronics
    branded clothing
    consuming any animal products
    Using anything made of plastic or comes in plastic packaging
    Living in a first world country

    Very few I’d wager.

    “Children” expect the government to solve their problems for them at no cost to themselves, instead of doing something about their own situation.

    I know there are a few people out there who stand on their principles , take responsibility for their actions and don’t own a car and really do everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint. They are probably the only people whose opinion I respect because they walk the talk.

    Everyone else trying to get the government to do something while they themselves do nothing, they can go get stuffed. Unless they are giving up all those things I listed, then it’s a bit rich asking the government to do something about it.

    With transport emissions if we phased in by law to 100% biodiesel, bioethanol and incentivised electric cars, our net transport emissions would be practically wiped out and keep our money in the country instead of going to Saudi Arabia.

    1. I have some respect for this view, Ari. However, I’ve also spent over a decade in the Transition Town movement, walking the talk and trying to get community endeavours up and running. We have the scales tipped against us.

      For example, many of us cycle. But in our group alone, many have broken bones and ongoing issues from being doored and hit by cars. We need government – local and national – to make cycling safe again.

      At our community garden, the local supermarket’s food waste has been diverted for 9 months now, combined with arborists’ mulch and made into fantastic compost, keeping that carbon in organic matter instead of creating a waste carbon emission problem. By doing this, 7 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent has been kept kept in the biosphere. An approach to the supermarket to see if they could assist financially to enable this to continue long term was declined, even though they have had their waste fees reduced substantially.

      Our group needs the playing field levelled; some regulation to provide assistance is needed here.

      We are running workshops on many of those subjects you’ve listed, mostly with volunteer time, and are managing to inspire others. But our reach is very small while it’s cheaper for people to follow business as usual practices.

      1. Thank you Heidi; we need to hear more of that and replications of it an many more communities. The efforts that your group are showing needs to be rewarded.

  10. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, black or white. You don’t have to give up anything. The comment above yours by Joe already said it: “eat less meat, consumeless Dairy, use a combustion engine less, waste less. All really easy steps that aren’t going to affect your lives that much”.

    You don’t have to give up meat, driving the car, taking the plane, giving up power and go back to the times of the caves. But at the very least be conscious of the decisions you make and moderate the uses. This protest is about raising awareness as anything else, and considering the amount of deniers and the attitude that ‘we’re too small and our actions are insignificant’, it is needed desperately

    1. Exactly, I’m a 35 year old male, 5 years ago I didn’t even think of those sort of steps to reduce my foot print, but now it is the norm. If we educate Children now, and enable them to make life changes, by the time they are adults it will be the norm to live a Carbon reduced life. As they change, the market changes..no more demand for petrol cars, ok we will produce more EV. No more demand for oil, shame..lets produce renewable energy. Nobody is buying beef anymore, shame..lets convert this farm land to sustainable farming.

      Coal Power stations, Combustion engine, they all only exist because a consumer market required it. If we educate and demonstrate that there are alternatives we won’t need targets, they will be met by our way of life. Of course, its not going to be easy, but if you take the black and white approach it will never work. Think of how society has changed in 20 years, masssively! But we didn’t take a black and white approach, same sex marriage etc as an exmaple. What was once different is now the norm and it’s through education of the generation below us. Apply this to Climate Change and the world looks a little different.

      Governments of course can come to the party and enable us to live this way, but again its about a consumer market, in this case your vote. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that a party which wants to build more roads and less public transport probably won’t be able to sustain those policies in 20 years time because our Children will have been educated and they won’t have the demand for it. They will have to change to environmental policies which reflect the current normality of society.

      Will it be too late by then for this change, I’m not sure.

  11. Responding to a few of the points raised in the comments:
    1. The growth in transport emissions is only in part due to immigration or population growth. Population is up 23% since 2000, number of vehicles is up 57%. The rest of the growth is mostly due to the increase in trucking and probably tracks GDP. Basically the country has been flooded with cheap cars and isn’t going to give that up easily.

    https://planetaryecology859820530.wordpress.com/2019/02/08/lets-talk-about-cars/

    2. In addition the average fuel efficiency has scarcely improved in that time and (for new vehicles) is now about 50% worse than the EU. We remain one of very few developed countries without fuel efficiency standards (Australia is another).

    3. It’s not true that our economy is uniquely reliant on air travel or tourism. Our aviations emissions are not much bigger per capita than the UK (0.8tCO2/person vs 0.6tCO2/person)

    On the other hand I have some sympathy with the difficult spot the government is in as the public really isn’t ready for the kind of changes that are needed – look at the regional fuel tax for instance. Taxes on new ICE vehicles are 36% in Ireland, 100% in Norway, 150% in Denmark – how would that go over here?

    I still hope we are going to get some kind of feebate, and much bigger support for electric buses and trucks, it’s not going to be enough though to cut emissions in the short term.

    It would be interesting to know what measures there are that would get widespread support and would cut transport emissions quickly. Electric buses would be top of my list.

    1. “3. It’s not true that our economy is uniquely reliant on air travel or tourism. Our aviations emissions are not much bigger per capita than the UK (0.8tCO2/person vs 0.6tCO2/person)”

      It’s over 5% of our GDP directly and closer to 10% once you include indirect spending. It’s also much higher as a proportion of local activity in regions where tourism makes up a higher portion of commercial activity; e.g. CNI, Queenstown Lakes, etc.

      So yea, we can give tourism the old Thanos snap based on our aviation emissions being ‘not that much more than the UK’ but you’ve just made the country hugely poorer and rendered a bunch of people unemployed in places where there isn’t much else going on.

      1. Sorry if I gave the impression that the tourist industry should be shrunk here or elsewhere, rather that aviation emissions are an moderate but important component of emissions here and in all other developed countries that will have to be addressed sooner or later, probably first by bringing them into the national carbon accounts. This is one of the hardest areas to tackle and won’t be our initial focus, but that doesn’t mean we or others should do nothing about international transport emissions.

  12. “I still hope we are going to get some kind of feebate”. But why? The Productivity Commissions figures show it hasn’t worked in France. Why would it work here?
    I can’t imagine that there will be any appetite for the many to subsidise the purchasing of low emission vehicles by the wealthy and the corporates.

    1. The Productivity Commission discusses feebates at length, and adopting one was one of the recommendations. They also say (p352 of the final report) “France introduced their Bonus-Malus system in 2008 for new vehicles entering the fleet to reduce CO2 emissions… The scheme has been largely successful.”

      1. Yes the Productivity Commission does discuss the feebate at length. Respectfully their conclusion is wrong and my conclusion comes from all the material that they present. First, the French model has reduced the amount of emissions from new vehicles by 3% per year. But this takes no account of whether that may have occurred anyway. A study of the Hyundai website shows their plan is to reduce emissions by 50% without a feebate. The French study makes no mention of whether more new cars have been bought because they are cheaper – have vkts increased.
        What about the fact that the Commission said that we can’t replace every fossil fueled vehicle with an ev – that won’t solve congestion. Or that we don’t have enough power for evs. Or if we had enough powerthen we don’t have the networks to shift it. For me the feebate scheme is a rort, but research it and tell me I am wrong.

    2. If Feebates (or Bonus/Malus scheme as its called in France) didn’t/doesn’t work in France why did ProdCom recommend the Government bring such a system in then?

      Secondly, the feebate system will just as equally apply to imported second hand EVs from Japan as it does to newly minted high-end brand new EVs from elsewhere.

      And the calculation is on (remaining) lifetime CO2 emissions, so the feebate for low/no emission cars like second hand Jap or UK EVs will make such low end Nissan Leafs and such a lot cheaper here than a lot of the fossil fuelled rubbish currently being imported that continue to pollute our fleet and the environment for another 12+ years before they are scrapped. The result will be fewer of those emission spewing ICE mobiles in our fleet.

      So there won’t be any “losers” either – except those who continue to buy vehicles with huge life time CO2e emission spewing profiles because they look or sound cooler or used to be cheaper to buy than cleaner options based on the “Sticker price” alone.

      And once someone has an EV, their savings will only mount relative to any fossil fuelled vehicle – generally no matter how efficient the fossil fuelled vehicle claims to be.

      And if there are any Fossil fuelled cars that are truly that efficient then they too can claim a [smaller] feebate – just like an EV can.

      1. Why indeed did the ProdCom support it? Why did NZTA think for years that the RONS were a marvellous idea?
        And where are all these second hand Leafs going to come from. Japan isn’t producing many electric cars.
        Why does the MTA (30 Nov, 2018) say that their research shows evs to be the preserve of the more well off?
        This is a scheme that the car companies must love. I suspect Toyota will be able to sell the Yaris at about $15k rather than the current price of $20k. They will probably fly out the door and produce emissions for another 20 years.
        Or will the car companies keep the price of evs up knowing that a feebate will make them more affordable.
        Lastly, if feebates are so great then why have so few countries adopted them?

        1. These are all irrelevant “arguments” you raise to justify your arguments.

          NZTA drank the RONS Koolaid because the National Government said its either accept our RONS as “got to be good for you” – or no new road money or big projects for you. Guess what happened next? They drank a shit load of Koolaid. Shame the roading budget got constipated though. And now we’re all suffering the results.

          The Leaf is the most sold EV model in the planet. It is very popular in Japan. Second hand vehicles in Japan (Leafs included) are available relatively cheaply now the 5 year “window” for second hand Japanese cars is now happening to EVs. UK has similar cheap Leafs available and they aren’t much more expensive to buy than Japanese ones. Both come here because they are right hand drive vehicles. Cars like the Renault Zoe which is month on month one of the most popular cars in France, aren’t suitable here because they’re LHD. Shame or you’d see a tonne of them here too.

          One point ProdCom made was that by priming the pump with new EVs, by Government and corporate Fleet buyers, the local second hand EV market will get a huge leg up in 3-5 years as those EVs age out of the lease/corporate fleet into private buyers. Displacing an equivalent number of fossil fuelled cars. Repeat contuously for 20 years and you got a lot of EVs and a lot fewer fossil fuelled cars.

          Nissan, Toyota [who don’t actually make a true EV BTW, the closest they have is the Corolla Hybrid and the Prius hybrids who are ice mobiles with a small battery on the side. Not a true BEV] and other Japanese car making companies don’t benefit much from the second hand markets into NZ and elsewhere. I don’t see how they can hike a Yaris by $5K just because they feel like it. If anything, they’ll have to drop the Yaris and all the other fossil fuelled cars by at least $5K to offset the feebate they get whacked with when first brought into NZ or they will find their fossil fuelled cars can’t compete.

          Don’t know why you quote the MTA “research” as evidence for anything. After all they and all their members have a clear conflict as they have vested interests in preserving the status quo of fossil fuelled cars with continual maintenance requirements which make their members a lot of money off NZ Inc in the process. So of course they will say that EVs are not ready for the mass market. They’ll be saying that until the last fossil fuelled car in NZ is scrapped sometime in 2060 or whenever it is. Which is about the time their members will have long since ceased to trade.

          Some EV makers might attempt jack up the EV price in NZ because they assume the feebate will reduce the higher cost the buyers face. I suspect that will mainly be legacy ICE manufacturer who have a fossil fuelled ICE Mobile business to protect.

          Other EV makers, especially those with no fossil fuelled models in their product range will sell their EV products for their actual cost – i.e. less money, with the feebate making them cheaper still and this even more popular than those higher priced price-gouging “legacy” makes will be.

          To me it all sounds like a recipe for a ICE maker to kill its business in NZ as the high priced ICEs that they make will be hit with the feebate costs making them more expensive than EVs, while their “high priced” EVs can’t sell either as the competition is eating their lunch.

          Feebates are actually used quite a lot elsewhere, they are just dressed up differently and not called that as such. France has called it a Bonus-Malus.

          Norway and many other EU countries have huge taxes on imported cars of all types. The governments then waive or massively reduce the taxes on EVs only, making the EVs much cheaper than the fossil fuelled vehicles in comparison (just as the feebate does).

          Of course its not technically a feebate, its a tax break i.e. the government forgoes tax revenue to encourage a better result. Sometimes thats also called a subsidy.

          The effect is the same.

          The difference with the feebate proposed here is that the system will be cost neutral to the government tax revenue wise. Because its fully funded by the buyers of the fossil fuelled vehicles collectively paying the subsidies paid to the buyers of EVs – based on the relative lifetime CO2 emission profiles of each vehicle and numbers of each being imported.

          This means that the early buyers of EVS under a feebate will have a HUGE pool of “feebate $” available to subsidise their relatively more expensive EVs so the feebate per EV will be even bigger, making expensive EVs very cost effective from day one.

          Over time the feebate $ per vehicle will drop as less and less buyers of fossil fuelled vehicles decide to keep willingly paying through the nose for the “privilege” of driving on dead dino juice. And the buyers of EVs which become more and more numerous as the overall EV prices drop [whether new or second hand] and the overall benefits of EVs become clearer. So they will end up getting less of the feebate $ for each EV.

          So eventually the system basically does itself out of business (no ICEs bought and all EVs bought then get $0 in feebates). However long that takes the government forgoes $0 in tax revenue. And nearly everyone including the CO2 levels in the atmosphere wins.

          The smart money will be found going to those who buy these “expensive” EVs early in the scheme. Getting massive feebate discounts off the sticker price thanks to the dumb as a bag of hammers ICE buying masses who haven’t woken up and smelt the EV [or feebate sledgehammer] coffee yet. So the early EV buyers will bank the massive price difference the feebate gives them, and also have years of banking the considerable running cost and maintenance savings of the EV.

          And if they’re even smarter they’ll keep repeating the process every couple of years for a while to cream even more feebate $ off the dumb ass “still buying ICE” masses – who are buying these more expensive ICEs and making the feebate $ go round.

          Those late starters who jump on the EV band wagon later will find that they don’t save quite as much money. And they will have spend a bucket load more in the meantime keeping their crappy ICE car running. And if their crappy ICE car breaks and they decide to buy a new ICE, well they’re throwing good money after bad money.
          Basically – A lose/lose/lose – loser situation for them.

          All up I don’t see what you’re so afraid off here. Its basic market forces at work, with the externalities factored in. No one with any sense can argue for a second that its not a fairer system.

          Thats why ProdCom supported it.

        2. ‘” Its basic market forces at work, with the externalities factored in. No one with any sense can argue for a second that its not a fairer system.”
          What have subsidies, and that is what they are, have to do with market forces? We have a rental housing market that is partly in disarray because of accommodation supplements. Landlords can rack up rent knowing that the government will pay.
          I think you ignore the big aspect of my argument and that is that emissions have only go down by 3% per year in France for new cars. The French scheme is low emission vehicles and not just evs, so a Yaris is indeed cheaper. Read on the net how Toyota is embracing the scheme. Read the example of the feebate that they see will apply to a Corolla. Tell me how that will be in any way helpful to heading to carbon zero.
          Tell me also where all our new Leafs are coming from.https://insideevs.com/nissan-leaf-sales-japan-increased-2018/
          And tell me also about fairness. Why should every car buyer subsidise the corporates who can offset the purchase price against tax anyway?
          I have written about a scheme where a fee on all non ev purchases goes to subsidise public transport with the aim within three years of having a pricing structure like Vienna – about $2 per day. The great thing about public transport is that on the trains there are no emissions; and on buses way less emissions than an SUV. And this scheme is tax neutral.
          Most of all this scheme will have way more effect on reducing carbon than a ProdCom feebate. Look at Vienna with a 27% car mode share at the extreme. But also look back to Matt’s article about the sprawling US city that has twice the PT ridership of Auckland with a population of 1.2 million people.
          I can understand how the ProdCom may have endorsed the feebate because it may have been the best alternative they have found. I will continue to debate that it isn’t the best alternative for NZ. I will suggest again to Matt that he publish my post so that you can read it in its entirety.

        3. ProdCom recommended scheme is like Frances, works on all vehicles not just EVs.

          So low[er]-emission vehicles will qualify for something. Not as much as a proper EV. Which is as it should be. Just be aware that the efficiency of a combustion engine cannot be improved much more than it already has. The easy wins have all been made with CO2 emissions from petrol powered vehicles. Further flogging that dead horse expecting radical improvements won’t happen. So you need to ditch ICE for powering vehicles and look elsewhere. Hydrogen is not even in the park, let alone the starting line. Leaving us with EVs and Hybrids as the only ways forward.
          Hybrids are a stepping stone technology, that won’t get us very much further. Which means EVs have to do the heavy lifting here.

          The issue with any such scheme is you have to start somewhere. Its not intended to live forever. And over time as the total and average fleet emissions drop, even as Vkt increases – as it will. We will still reduce our fastest growing source of emissions.

          The idea is not to ban driving, but to reduce or eliminate the disbenefits.

          “What have subsidies, and that is what they are, have to do with market forces? ”

          Short answer: Everything.

          We got into this present situation due to implicit and explicit subsidies on fossil fuel based transport systems. The housing market issues you mention are just one tiny facet of this larger issue. Encouraging urban sprawl for 70 years as we and most Western countries have done has set us up for this problem. We see housing crisis like we do because people don’t want to spend half their days commuting. Or spend a large chunk of their income on fuel to do so. We also have a housing stock and a current urban land usage regime that is not fit for purpose in the 21st century. Coupled with other changes that are coming together in a perfect storm of issues. Also note that our 21st century low-wage economy is not fit for purpose either. This is why we need massive government rent subsidy and working for families tax credit schemes.

          Understand France is not a good example for everything transport emission related. The Bonus-Malus scheme is designed there to tip buyers into buying [relatively more up-front expensive] EVs over fossil fuelled based transport options – solely paid for by those who chose not to buy EVs. Mostly its intended for private vehicle owners. In that aspect it has been quite a success.

          But most of the emissions and vkt growth story worldwide is in heavy vehicles (buses,trucks etc), so it is likely that France has seen vkt and emissions rise, just as it has elsewhere. But not as much in France. But that rise doesn’t mean the scheme has failed. Because the counter case is that you don’t know what the “business as usual” scenario would have been if they hadn’t introduced the scheme in France. But you can be sure it would be a hell of a lot worse if they hadn’t done something.

          Here, in NZ our emissions growth story is mainly in Diesel powered vehicles, this covers a wide range of vehicle types from diesel powered Utes right up to buses and massive heavy trucks. Diesel utes are popular because the full emissions costs of diesel is not captured currently, so they are not “paying their way”. There is also the perverse tax benefits that the IRD has, which allows double cab Utes to avoid Fringe Benefit Tax on the basis that they are “work vehicles”. So we have two tax incentives in place already that are tilting the playing field.

          For heavy trucks and buses, there is not such an incentive, and except some free RUCs on offer no real benefits to the sticker price to the buyers of such vehicles.
          But while that might make the operational costs lower, it won’t improve the purchase price of a low or no emission heavy truck or bus. And as that sector is the largest emitter and fastest growing sector of the overall transport emissions profile in NZ, even though they only make up 5% of the total fleet by vehicle.

          Giving everyone in Auckland capped PT would achieve something of a emissions reduction, but at what emissions and other opportunity costs?
          Yes electricity based PT is low emission. But trains are only 15% of our PT system right now.

          Most of our current PT fleet is (about 80%, with 5% ferries) based on diesel powered buses. Where would the incentive be for the likes of NZ Bus, Go Bus etc to invest in capital intensive electric or buses currently or with your capped PT offer – they’d just run the current ones into the ground for the next 15+ years, adding even more emissions and doing nothing except arguing about why they can’t do anything?

          And not everyone in NZ has PT that they could/would catch to do what they need to do even at $2 a day capped. While Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington may represent a chunk of emissions. They don’t represent all. And we will still need trucks and such to move the goods around the country. So your solution doesn’t provide a better solution, just a slight improvement.

          The whole point of ProdComs recommendation and urgency for doing so is that vehicles entering the NZ fleet as new today and over the next decade, will only just be being phased out in 2050 when we have committed to be carbon (and carbon equivalent) emissions neutral. This lock in effect is why we have to act NOW not in a decade – when everything is likely going to be cheaper – for most things, except lowering our emissions.

          By 2029 it will be too late to “turn this tanker around” for EVs and a lot of other Environmental issues.

  13. I’ve swallowed the Zeigeist pill and I’m a fairly solid believer that until the socio-economic system fundamentally changes, ie; money controls everything, I doubt we are going to see radical change. Toying around the edges yes, but only if it doesn’t cost money, or potentially loose the country money etc etc.

  14. Are you seriously suggesting expending energy recycling carbon is going to be less wasteful than just taking that electricity and putting it in a battery in an EV?

    Seems you don’t know much about developments in solid-state and polymer electrolytes that pretty much render any secondary ‘refining’ process to be a total waste of time and energy.

    I’d also like to see some verification of your claim that EVs are worse than ICEs in terms of manufacturing. Last time I checked, the engine bays of most cars weren’t filled with compost bins.

  15. Re: your question about Heidi – are you asking how a person becomes educated in an area? There are many ways, but reading, thinking, testing your ideas out on others, and putting them into practice and learning from feedback are important parts. Heidi seems to have done a great job on all of these.

    Re: Your comment about IMO2020 marine fuels, I think you are referring to MARPOL Annex VI on low-sulphur fuels, you have it completely backwards. The previous government refused to sign, preferring to freeload on other’s efforts. The current government has just finished consulting on signing Annex VI, I expect we will go ahead. All the information is on the mfe website.

    1. I think Heidi has a realistic view about cars. Auckland has huge problems with congestion. We can not afford to build vehicle based solutions. e’.g. an AWHC is estimated to cost 10 billion. Their is no money. Just transitions to carbon zero will require billions of dollars. Heidi is saying, let’s spend the money on PT transport where we get more bang for our buck, solve congestion, emission and pollution problems? Sure it’s threatening if you think your future is to drive everywhere. And it might be? But it might also be that you have to pay the carbon cost of driving.
      I struggle to see how her views are anti car, rather a realisation that there are better ways of moving around. Many cities, particularly European cities worked this out years ago. Just because we have not seen it, or our friends have not seen it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

  16. And on the emissions used to make cars, there are several comprehensive studies out there, e.g. one by UCS which put the CO2 emissions for making a small car at 6 tonnes, and a small EV like a Leaf at 7 tonnes. So the extra emissions are recouped in a few months. Most of these emissions are incurred in metals processing, a lot of which people are now working out how to electrify.

    Actually I have never heard of anyone proposed to capture carbon from liquid fueled vehicles, that’s a new one to me.

  17. The NZ Electrical Energy Conservation Authority (EECA) conducted a cradle to grave [full lifetime] comparison of a NZ relevant fossil fuelled 4 door sedan car, a Hybrid car and an similarly sized EV in conjunction with respected partners. They published the results some years ago now.

    This study concluded [as had been found elsewhere in the world] that while an EV does take more embedded energy to manufacture.

    The savings in emissions once the vehicles all started being driven soon eliminated any “halo of emissions superiority” you apportion to fossil fuelled cars – hybrid or not. And it does so within a few months.

    Over the full lifetime of the EV they assumed 2 battery were needed (original one, plus a replacement once half way through with limited recycling/energy recovery options for the first battery – a kind of worst case EV scenario), and *still* the EV bested the fossil fuelled car by a long way. And most EVs made today will only ever need 1 battery their whole life. Like most fossil fuelled cars only have 1 engine for their life.

    And in NZ’s case the CO2 emissions reductions overall for EVs were so much higher than most other countries because of the high portion of renewables that our electricity grid uses.

    And furthermore, it has been concluded that because our electrical grid is already so clean of CO2e emissions, that EVs represent one of NZ’s better options to reduce overall CO2 emissions, even compared to solar panels on the roof everywhere.

    In any case EVs may not be the perfect solution, but they are a lot better than what we have now. And we shouldn’t use the “but its not perfect” mantra to delay doing anything until then.

    Relying on carbon capture from the air to save our CO2 bacon is like, pursuing a fully hydrogen powered vehicle fleet – i.e. a fools errand.

    To capture a single tonne of CO2 from the air, requires you to filter an entire Grand Canyons worth of air first. How much energy do you think you are going to need to move that much air through your carbon capture unit?

    Likely more energy [and thus CO2 emissions] than you avoid by capturing that tonne of CO2. And that assumes that there is no additional energy required in turning the CO2 gas into a safe inert form or somehow simply stuffing it down a well in the ground and hoping it stays there.

    Yep – That idea works really well. Not.

    1. To be scientifically literate is to empower yourself to know when someone else is full of bullshit – Niel deGrasse Tyson

      Greg is scientifically literate. Draw your own conclusions.

  18. In the 1960s younger generations were demanding action on the environment.
    In the 1970s younger generations were demanding action on the environment.
    In the 1980s younger generations were demanding action on the environment.
    In the 1990s younger generations were demanding action on the environment.
    In the 2000s younger generations were demanding action on the environment.
    In the 2010s younger generations were demanding action on the environment.

    The current government is now entirely made up of MPs from the above generations. “Yound vs old” is too simplistic. Whatever it is, it’s inter-generational, and I guarantee you the young generation in the 2060s will be criticising the young generation of the 2010s.

    In regards to supporting low carbon lifestyles, I had a yummy meal three days ago of fried tomatoes, fried sliced potatoes and eggs on wholegrain toast. Yes, I bought the toast from the supermarket. But the eggs came from the chickens outside, and the tomatoes and potatoes came from my garden. I have a huge surplus of them, far more than I can eat.

    It’s important that however we live, we have the ability to produce a good portion of our own food, instead of locking ourselves into dependency on transport and having to have our tomatoes, eggs and potatoes driven to our neighbourhood in a diesel truck (or worse, flown in from another country) and then held in a big building consuming massive amounts of energy through airconditioning, refrigeration and lights.

    It’s also important that we live in homes that are capable of capturing solar energy. Plenty of roof space for solar panels.

    Food production and abundant solar energy result in a home that doesn’t externalise environmental cost. The more of your needs that are met at home, the better. This is the future we must change to if we are to let go of the “old ways”.

  19. Christchurch event had Lots of Full buses full of Standing kids arriving at the Bus exchange. Event was quite good even though my youngest didn’t like all the signs. Pity it has been overshadowed by the other event in Christchurch today.

    My bus leaving just after the Square was evacuated was completely filled at least 40 standees and the Bus exchange completely packed as well.

  20. id like to take a sea voyage to Australia but it costs so much more than it does to fly. Sometimes the options are not viable.

    1. I’d like to take a train from Hamilton to Auckland but there is, basically, nothing. Forced to drive which is a feature of NZ land transport.

    1. 55% of New Zealanders who express high level
      of concern around the impact of climate
      change on New Zealand – Colmar Brunton Better Futures Survey.
      Yesterdays march was just the start. The general scientific view is that we can’t do nothing, or do little. Each new adverse weather event and the almost daily reports about decreasing ice at the Poles is going to bring increasing concern.
      Let’s have some positive action now by all political parties to avoid the inevitable social dislocation that will be caused by sitting and waiting.

  21. Our road tax regime is dominated by ACC concerns with no consideration given to carbon emissions or climate change. A Ford Ranger diesel ute, weighing 2000kg+ with maybe one person in it, is charged $183. Meanwhile a Honda PCX scooter, which easily does 2l/100km, weighs 130kg and emits a fraction of the carbon put out by the Ford Ranger, gets charged $405, effectively taxed off the road.

    1. Zippo
      that could be a good starting point. In some states of Australia the bigger the vehicle the more the fee.
      A change here will bring howls of protest no doubt. You are impoverishing further those with large families who need bigger cars. Maybe we think outside the box and give those paying larger licensing fees a monthly PT pass so that they have something in return and options for travel. It’s a win for AT if the extra revenue from licensing fees is transferred to them.
      It seems that NZ is stuck in the phase that is the most common when change is suggested i.e. yes, let’s do things differently; but as close to the way that we do things now; and if they are the same, perfect!

  22. Thank you, I found the writing and presentation a considerable enlightening experience.
    be increasing like the Tobacco tax with the view that it would wean us gradually of the problem.

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