On Sunday the Climate Commission released their draft advice and supporting evidence to the government on how to meet our domestic 2030 and 2050 emissions targets. In their words:

It includes advice on the first three emissions budgets and on policy direction for the Government’s first emissions reduction plan. Together, these lay out the course for reducing emissions in Aotearoa and set the direction of policy that Aotearoa takes to get there.

Of most interest to us is the section on Transport, buildings and urban form.

As we know, transport makes up an increasingly large share of our overall emissions and is the single highest contributor in Auckland.

Transport emissions have been a major and growing contributor to our total greenhouse gas emissions. Between 1990 and 2018, domestic transport emissions have increased by 90%. Transport currently contributes about 37% of long-lived gases. Transport has been the most rapidly increasing source of emissions. Out of the 35.1 megatonnes (Mt) of gross carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions Aotearoa produced in 2018, approximately 16 Mt were from transport

Road transport is the main source of emissions from transport. Cars, utes, vans and SUVs are the predominant cause of these emissions, though emissions from trucks have doubled in the last 20 years.

Road transport is further broken down by type of vehicle and light vehicles make up 53% of the total.

Notably international aviation and shipping are omitted from this report, which is quite significant given we rely on both of those methods heavily in our trade with the rest of the world.

The commission have highlighted that this is in large part the result of increasing our auto-dependency.

Rates of vehicle ownership have also increased. There were 2.7 million vehicles in Aotearoa in 2001, by 2018 there were 4.3 million and the fleet size increased faster than the population over the same period. In addition, Aotearoa has a predominance of used imports and slow fleet turn over. The average vehicle is driven until it’s about 19 years old and this average is gradually increasing.

There has been a modest increase in vehicle distance travelled per person for all vehicles: from about 9,400km per person in 2001 to about 10,000km per person in 2018.

One consequence of our heavy dependence on private vehicles is traffic congestion. Aucklanders’ travel time increased by 31% due to traffic congestion according to the TomTom Traffic Index. Extra fuel use and increased emissions often come with congestion.


While 85% of our population live in urban areas, Aotearoa is a sparsely populated country. A household’s transport choices often depend on where in the country they live, their proximity to economic and social activities and the services available. Some communities have a high dependence on vehicles for transport. For many rural communities public transport is often not practical and private transport is relied on, including for to access public transport.

Other groups, for example low income households and people with disabilities or limited mobility, children and older people often also have limited transport options. Public transport could be insufficient and low emissions cars too expensive. Policies which increase vehicle costs or driving costs may fall disproportionately on low income households, who may also not be able to afford fast broadband, also limiting virtual access allowing remote working or learning. Complimentary policies will be required to mitigate this inequality.

Understandably the commission sees the single biggest thing to reduce transport emissions is the electrification of the vehicle fleet, and is calling for the import of fossil fuelled vehicles to be banned from 2030-35 – which is roughly in line with what many other countries are also proposing. They also say that to achieve our targets, 40% of the light vehicle fleet will need to be electric by 2035.

However, they also note the need for other options

Electric vehicles are an important piece of the puzzle, but that does not take away how important it is to reduce emissions from other areas of transport and to give New Zealanders choices to reduce transport emissions.

Our transport system is dominated by private vehicles. Reducing the number of cars on the road and developing a more accessible transport system is an effective way to reduce emissions that has many co-benefits.

A successful outcome would be that transport emissions are reduced by cities and towns that are designed for liveability and ease of getting around. Active transport, such as walking or cycling are simple ways to reduce emissions. Where walking, cycling or working from home is not possible, public or shared transport are an attractive choice. A very important part of the move to a zero emissions transport system is to enable policies that work together well.

However, urban form and planning is a long term and evolving process and public transport systems take time to build up. Behaviour change also takes time. People will continue to rely on private transport until public transport services and infrastructure is provided so people find public transport, walking and cycling convenient, safe and enjoyable. There are also areas where using public transport is not practical and ultimately some people want and need to use their own cars. We see electric vehicles as an important part of the solution but they are not to be seen as a ‘silver bullet’.

It is important to address the real or perceived inequality associated with electric vehicles. Policies that support the transition to a low emissions future should operate by reducing social inequities rather than exacerbating them. Additional benefits of improved air quality and ongoing savings from the lower fuel and maintenance costs that electric vehicles provide can benefit low income households most.

They give these specific policy actions as a response to that.

One area I think they’ve missed is around the encouragement of e-bikes. While they call for measures and incentives (including monetary) to increase the uptake of electric cars, and they call for more cycling, they’ve missed an opportunity combine these suggestions with incentives towards e-bikes – which can be a gateway drug towards cycling more and for many existing owners they often end up replace a car.

One thing I think is positive is that they’ve linked together transport and urban form. They note how our cities have sprawled out which has made alternatives to driving increasingly difficult and that shifting towards more compact urban design could be a key long-term goal of urban planning – which will come as no surprise to readers of this blog.

According to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Urban planning that decreases the need for carbon-intensive transportation in the long term – such as compact, pedestrianised cities and towns – plays an important role in limiting future emissions. Such planning, coupled with policies that encourage improve fuel efficiency; zero emission vehicles; and model shifts toward walking, cycling, public transport, and shorter commute distances, is key to decarbonisation.

As the quotation highlights, higher density is not the only aspect of urban planning that influences emissions. Density needs to be coupled with quality infrastructure for walking, cycling, and public transport, as well as street designs that make walking and cycling safe and pleasant.

It’s also good that then linked this to other positive outcomes – this first quote from the Public Health Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Health in 2010

If designed appropriately, urban form and transport can increase physical activity, improve air quality, reduce road traffic injuries, increase social cohesion, and achieve maximum health benefits  from services and facilities. Urban form can also help create a sense of place. This is important for the health and wellbeing of all populations living in urban areas, especially Maori

Many parts of Tāmaki Makaurau and other major urban centres, where largely lower socioeconomic groups live, have been under invested in for decades in terms of transport amenity. To prioritise investment into public transport in areas of high social deprivation would benefit low emission economy targets. Prioritising areas such as South Auckland and West Auckland would reduce carbon and be beneficial for social and health purposes.

In short, a shift toward compact urban design can offer both lower emissions and a higher quality of life.

They give these actions as a result.

Overall I think the Climate Commission have made a good start. Even just sticking to this topic there is a heap of good quotes and I could have included a lot more.

In saying that, in some senses the advice is almost not ambitious enough, relying too much on business as usual. We think with the right focus, priority and investment in walking, cycling and public transport we could see mode-share increase further and pick up a larger share of transport task, thereby reducing the amount of vehicle fleet we need to convert.

At the same time let’s quickly consider what their suggestions actually mean. For example, holding household vehicle travel levels steady, resulting in a per capita decrease over time, means other than safety and smaller improvement projects, we’re not going to need spend money on big new 4-lane state highways. That alone will free up significant amounts of money to reinvest in alternative modes to help make them more useful and attractive. When it comes to urban form it also means the council needs to reassess it’s plans for significant and expensive greenfield growth.

The advice is currently out for consultation until 14 March.

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  1. Agree that electric bikes were overlooked. Especially for smaller urban centres. I wonder how many cyclists are to be found within the CCC? Submissions back to the CCC will not doubt highlight that contribution they can make.

    1. A good companion piece to the Climate Commission advice is ‘Turning the Tide – from Cars to Active Transport’ published by the University of Otago in 2019.

      “This report considers what it would take to move from an incoming tide of cars to an outgoing tide of cars in New Zealand: the current car tide replaced with the healthier and more sustainable active and shared forms
      of transport.”


      1. Thanks for that reference, it looks like an excellent report. They recommend 45% car, 25% walking, 15% cycling, 15% public transport trips by 2050. They don’t seem to mention price as a mechanism to bring about less car use. I see that this report has been cited by the CCC.

  2. The advice is provided on the basis of a reduction in the number of cows. Nowhere to they state the number of humans in NZ that this plan is based on. This is probably the most important factor to the magnitude of emmissions. Is our population also to reduce, or stay the same, or continue with the record growth we’ve seen over the last few years?

    1. It’s simple: we require any new applicant for citizenship to engage a cow in mortal combat. This will thin the herd and ensure that only the strongest applicants are successful.

        1. Our very own running of the bulls? Maybe AT could close Queen Street for that, or maybe they need to dodge cars too to prove they are really capable of living here.

    2. Personally, I’d like to see our population double over a short period, on the back of and aligned with supporting investment in our urban centres to support it without increasing driving.
      Perhaps put another way, let’s invest in comprehensive PT and active mode systems in our major urban areas and then increase the population in them to a level needed to make them successful.

      1. Well you would want that now wouldn’t you Matt. Nevermind the increased emissions in this country (and globally), negative environmental impacts all while reducing the quality of life for New Zealanders…

        1. Well I just said I wanted it.
          But increased emissions, not so much if it means we can justify building our cities in a way that supports existing and new residents using non-driving modes e.g. an Auckland with a far more extensive rapid transit system.
          As for quality of life, it would improve. More people means more events, better spaces, improved services etc.
          It also means more job opportunities. And on that, I’d certainly prefer that we used the food we produce to feed our local population and turned into higher value exports than shipping it off overseas to feed someone else’s economy

        2. Brendon the Climate commission isn’t about reducing global emissions, it is focused on reducing New Zealand’s emissions. This is why they have assumed the aluminium smelter should close with aluminium made somewhere else, presumably using fossil fuels for energy rather than Manapouri. The renewable energy in NZ can then be used to allow NZ to claim reductions despite the fact the world emissions will increase.

        3. We can’t do anything about global emissions we can only do something about our own.
          Every new family needs a new home. More energy. More transport capacity. More of everything and it all needs to be built. It all produces carbon.
          You cannot build your way out of climate change.

          As for quality of life, doubling the population will do the exact opposite of what you think Matt.

        4. Exactly Miffy. I have wondered too about the wisdom of closing an Aluminium smelter powered by 100% renewable-energy, just in order to redirect that energy into electric cars. Does the world not still need aluminium? Of course it does and Tiwai Point’s contribution in producing it without CO2 emission should be globally praised.
          Reducing transport emissions should be achieved partly by electrification but also significantly by reducing the amount of road-vehicle-use in absolute terms. We have fostered a society which is addicted to road-vehicle use, and for many decades we have resisted any alternative strategies. This needs to change. Striving to prop-up the status-quo while making it appear ‘guilt-free’ with millions of electric vehicles and forfeiting Tiwai Point in the process, is not the way to go.

      2. That could only happen via truly massive levels of immigration, do you think this would just occur without any negative reaction?

        1. Population density is falling in Japan. And they’re not keen on new immigrants to do the dirty work, preferring robots instead. Over time, if we all lower our rates of breeding, populations will fall.

          NZ, foolishly, is still trying to grow.

    3. By “our population” do you mean NZ or the world? And do you mean population increase by immigration or by birth or by extended longevity?
      There seems to be a weird theory that of NZ didn’t have any immigration that we wouldn’t need to worry about the climate. I’m not sure that would really pan out: if every country stopped immigration the world would still have roughly the same global warming problem.
      As for decreasing the population by controlling birth rates I would actually prefer we control the death rate. It seems a bit unfair for us to be living until 100 in a rest home completely incapacitated just because we are afraid to die and then enforcing people to not have kids.

      1. Most countries now have negative population growth or stable populations. It is generally only in certain developing nations that we are still seeing large population growth (Nigeria in particular being the worst culprit, even India is finally slowing down).
        Migration does increase emissions because most migration is from developing countries to developed countries. When that happens people adopt the higher emissions lifestyles of their new country while freeing up resources in their home country for increased emissions their too.

        1. In most cases we bring in people that already have a similar lifestyle to us; they already own a car, big house, etc in their own country as they are educated and relatively well off.
          Also developing countries will eventually develop to have a similar level of emissions to us (or even more if they try and adopt a similar lifestyle to us but on a lower budget). That could happen very quickly.

        2. Can you explain why many immigrants work under the most exploitative and illegal conditions in NZ when they could be living in the big house with the big car in their own country? Sorry, but that is completely out of touch nonsense.

        3. A lot of the immigrants I’ve talked to had to learn to drive/cook/clean when they came to NZ because they had other people doing it for them. Yet they still wanted to come here, I guess because of our schools / democracy / lack of corruption / environment / lifestyle / etc.
          Not all are in that position of course. But I do think overall our immigrants come from an above average lifestyle in their own country, otherwise they wouldn’t be educated enough to get a visa.

        4. Educate women and give them control over their own bodies and birth rates plummet.
          It’s that simple. And it’s a win for everybody.

    4. I worked out from some of the graphs that their models are assuming 1% population growth to 2035. At least that’s less than the 2% we’ve seen in recent years. As natural increase is around 0.6% it would mean a big reduction in immigration.

        1. If house prices keep going up then Treasury will probably be right. Why struggle to rent in NZ when you can make more money in Australia, the opportunities are greater, and the house prices are lower?

  3. When does the consultation close? The advice document says, “We are seeking your feedback on this draft advice before providing our final advice to the Government and public by 31 May 2021.” The Consultation Hub says 14 March!
    Seems about as well thought through as the bit that says, “We assume the average household travel distance per person can be reduced by around 7% by 2030, for example through more compact urban form and encouraging remote working. We also assume that the share of this distance travelled by walking, cycling and public transport can be increased by 25%, 95% and 120% respectively by 2030.” Given the very low current levels, no more than 120% seems a very modest ambition.

    1. Go with the March date, John. I think the later one is for their final advice to government.

      While I welcome the advice because it’s a step in the process, everything will need to ramp up fast because the actual NDC’s aren’t in line with 1.5 degrees. I suspect the process, of having the CCC advise on action before the government has corrected the NDC’s will cause damage to New Zealand’s reputation. The budgets they’ve worked to actually involve about half the cuts to our emissions that are required.

      The modeshift targets are laughable. I’ll be blogging more later but we need to remember that the transport sector has many dinosaurs in it, and it is from this pool that the transport experts were selected.

      The CCC says we need to be careful of going too fast, too soon. In transport, at least, that is a false economy. There are only benefits in going faster.

      1. I’m very glad that commission has advised to increase the NDC, and Ardern said she would do that. However, the carbon budgets miss even the present NDC (page 157) and the way it’s discussed suggests that any extra cuts needed would be met overseas.

  4. I’ll believe the government are taking climate change seriously when they cease all investment in new roads and road upgrades. There would be exceptions of course such as new housing areas (although we shouldn’t be building sprawl either) and safety improvements.
    Sadly I’m sure we will see a token increase in PT and cycling investment but still the bulk of transport spend going on roads that we are meant to be using less of.

    1. Surely increasing the capacity of a road is as stupid as building a new coal power station. Both would be an absolute waste of money if you intend to reduce CO2 emissions.

      1. A road is more than fossil fuelled vehicles. You can have electric cars and bikes plus buses and trams or even trains. Plus people can walk scooter or skate board. Roads have being around forever there used to be lots of horses now they are a rare event previously chariots became obsolete more than a millennium ago. Someday a fossil fuelled vehicle will be just as rare. Major car companies are pledging to cease production of them in the next 2 decades but the need for roads will continue. When we put in a cycle lane or a bus lane we are increasing road capacity.

        1. OK I meant a road that is primarily used for cars. So excluding spending on bus lanes, busways, bike lanes, cycleways, footpaths, etc. Yes buses and bikes can share a road with a car, but that really doesn’t work very well.
          Personally I think that 100% of our transport emissions can be gone just by moving to electric vehicles and adding more renewable power generation, but that is not what this report says.

        2. Agree about the 100 percent renewable electricity. What is the point in having electric cars then use gas fired power stations to charge them. Same goes for electric boilers in dairy factory and then use gas fired power stations to run them which are about 50 percent efficient. Better to have gas fired boilers.

        3. Won’t need gas or coal to go to EV if they build Lake Onslow and corresponding increases to Wind/solar that Onslow enables (along with eventual closure of Tiwai).

  5. Doubling cycling is almost a laughably low target. They should be aiming for 10% mode share and start dumping serious central government money into arterial cycle lanes ffs, stop wasting time while AT takes 7 years to finish a simple path like the Glen Innes one

  6. I am very glad to see that international emissions haven’t been ignored entirely. The budgets allow for net zero 2050 including them, you can even see that in the figure on page 35. Plus, they call for an immediate start to production of sustainable fuels. Rod Carr on the radio compared these to the importance of refrigeration in the 1880s for us.

  7. The Climate Commissions’ assessment and recommendations are an indictment of NZTA’s performance… “Decades of underinvestment in infrastructure and services for public transport, walking and cycling have often made these travel choices slower, less reliable and ultimately less attractive than travelling by private vehicle. Transport planning and funding is largely centered around private vehicle use.”

    NZTA needs a hell of a wake-up call and that’s why the Commission is recommending to “link [NZTA’s] funding with achieving our emissions budgets”. Otherwise NZTA will continue to use its out-dated and flawed Cost-Benefit Appraisals to justify business as usual.

    1. “link [NZTA’s] funding with achieving our emissions budgets”: wow that would be a change. NZTA would probably start to subsidise electric cars.
      I guess another option is that any business case by NZTA must assume a decrease of driving to levels suggested in the report. Not many new roads would stack up with projected travel time decreases.

    2. NZTA did what it was told by politicians over the last 60 years, that is build roads for motor vehicle traffic and nothing else. Cars are an addiction in many ways and NZ politicians have completely pandered to the public’s desire for easy car based travel, all the associated negatives totally ignored, all alternative land transport options removed or degraded to the point of irrelevancy.

  8. “Prioritising areas such as South Auckland and West Auckland would reduce carbon and be beneficial for social and health purposes.”

    Meanwhile, a candidate for the Māngere-Otahuhu Local Board promises to destroy the existing cyclelanes because they’re “gentrification” and “elitist bordering on racism”. https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/02-02-2021/meet-the-fascinating-bunch-running-to-represent-a-south-auckland-community/

    This kind of Right-wing populism will kill building a constituency for urbanism, unless it is countered by an explicit outreach to working-class/outer suburbs.

    1. The old classic, zero numbers, just emotive. “Council is wasting our money” language. If they actually dig in a little deeper they’d see we’re spending fuck all of their money on cycleways and exorbitant amounts on greenfields road projects.

      Plus cycling offers a cheaper mode of transport than cars, isn’t that ideal for a low income family. Get rid of one of the cars so you can get to work or school cheaper.

  9. >They also say that to achieve our targets, 40% of the light vehicle fleet will need to be electric by 2035.

    To be honest this is probably not feasible without a significant increase in new car sales in NZ,

    The light passenger fleet is around 3.3 million vehicles… 40% is ~1.5 million, 2035 is 15 years away, …. that’s 100K EVs per year….. ( on average)

    in 2019 (pre covid) 250K passenger cars entered the fleet, and 170K left..
    BUT … only 100K of the new entrants are new cars ,,,, 140K are used,
    Also Japan only sells 25000 New EVS domestically each year,

    So to get anywhere near adding 100K EVs a year ( on average) will require a big shift from used to new vehicles… and every year that misses the target at the front end will require more vehicle sales at the back end of the target..

    1. A big shift from used to new cars will just push the gdp spend on transport even higher, because of the car only transport model pushed for decades we already spend vast sums collectively on transport. Gdp per capita is already low for compared to other western countries. EVs will have a part to play but cycling and PT is far more import imo. And actually affordable.
      There’s a reason we buy second hand cars, we’re a relatively poor nation and used cars give more bang for buck.

        1. I honestly think that money would be better spent ($spend vs long term warming impact reduction) on alternative modes, bike lanes, bus and rail projects. I don’t know for sure, it would require an actual study, not back of the envelope math but that’s my heavy suspicion.

        2. How about replacing every petrol/diesel vehicle for free on a like for like basis. My 2012 Barina for an electric vehicle of the same size and range and rewire my 40 year old Manurewa house to accommodate the fast charger.

          But wait – that’s not going to work because the disposal of the Barina is likely to cause more greenhouse gas emissions than replacing the car.

        3. Replacing an office worker’s trophy double cab ute with an e-bike. That’s the sort of swap we need.

        4. “I honestly think that money would be better spent ($spend vs long term warming impact reduction) on alternative modes…”

          Some modeshift initiatives will have a better marginal cost of abatement than EVs, some worse.

          The abatement cost for a lot of mode shift projects will depend on which project you do in which situation – the costs vary a lot from case to case. If the project has a positive benefit-cost ratio or close to it, the project will have a competitive or even negative abatement cost. But the cost is terrible for some projects e.g. the city centre to Mangere light rail if it is done as a light metro.

          The cost of abatement will also depend on how many people use the new facilities, and what proportion of them are shifting modes (as opposed to new travel) and how much induced demand there is as a result of other people shifting modes.

          According to figures put out by the Ministry for the Environment, the abatement cost for many EVs is already zero or negative because people would actually be better off with electric cars – because the running costs are so low. I am not sure I fully trust their figures though – I’d like to see a breakdown of how they calculated it.

    2. That works perfectly for the Government – they implement minor tinkering at the front end, the bigger part of the problem is pushed out until they’re retired or out of Parliament.

    3. Yes, it’s one of those statistical lies. 100,000 fewer cars is vastly more beneficial than 100,000 electric cars, but does nothing to pretty up the stats. And that new car smell is just so much better than new bike smell, mmmmm….

    4. Greenwelly
      I think you identify major issues and I agree with your numbers. At the time of the Clean Car initial report the MOT said there was a real risk that we would undershoot with EV targets. Nothing has changed.
      Look at the figures for Norway. The govt there has added huge amounts of tax to fossil fueled cars to make the price equal to EVs. The ratio is hovering at between 60 and 70% despite significant other incentives offered to EV purchasers.
      The rest of Europe is at about 8%.
      So what is the plan if NZ undershoots? There have been just a few generalities about lifting PT usage by 120%.
      It seems that currently the plan is deficient.

      1. The difference is that the plan here is to ban ICE vehicles outright, while Norway so far has relied on taxes and incentives.

    5. That’s a 2016 figure for EVs sold in Japan. 2019 was 38.900 – see https://www.statista.com/statistics/1129942/japan-new-electric-cars-sales-volume/#:~:text=Almost%2039%20thousand%20new%20electric,within%20the%20Japanese%20automotive%20market.

      Also Tokyo is considering 2030 for EV only sales, though the rest of Japan the mid 2030s – see https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Automobiles/Tokyo-one-ups-rest-of-Japan-with-2030-electric-vehicle-goal, so Japanese EV sales will rise.

      The average uptake of EVs to get to 40% by 2035 would be 96,080 a year. In 2019 we imported 104,715 new cars and 139,815 used, so it should be possible. It depends whether the incentives are put in place by government. There’s a long way to go from the 1,888 EVs we imported in 2019.

  10. Here is a thought, not well thought through but I will throw it out there.
    Why can’t we increase fuel taxes to punitive levels? I am sure if petrol was $3 a litre that would change behaviour.
    To mitigate the financial impact benefits could be increased and income and business taxes lowered.
    Any thoughts?

    1. Political suicide, need better alternative modes first (normally a bad argument but I think not in this case), flat tax, doesn’t tax the rich enough, taxes the poor more. Certainly it could be done a bit, say we remove or raise the upper price limit of the ets carbon credits.

      1. First 30k tax free. Poor and rich will have more in their hands. Will sufficiently compensate for the much higher fuel costs.
        Increase benefit payments for those not in a job.
        If the extra fuel tax costs are balanced out with tax compensation, and it Is well pitched, I don’t think it’s too hard a sell.

        1. The electric car will have lower fuel costs and maintaince costs than the fossil fuel one but will cost more to buy. Maybe leasing would be a better option for a lot of people and it will get around having to worry about battery degradation. Could have dockless ones lying around on the street just like the scooters and electric bikes.

    2. As usual a petrol price increase impacts the poor people of South Auckland or Porirua much more than the rich s*bs in Remmers or Karori

      1. Did you actually read what I wrote?
        If the first 30k of income is tax free then that will make up the difference in terms of higher fuel costs.
        For example someone earning 30k now pays about $80 per week to the taxman. They would keep that if the first 30k was tax free.
        I also said that those on benefits should get more benefits to compensate.
        If people are able to use PT, cycling and walking more then they will be better off financially.

        1. They just spend the $80 on higher priced fuel?
          Can’t see how it would have anything but a very minor effect?
          Maybe if they put that money into an EV I guess.
          Thing is, can’t just replace ICs with EVs without creating a cloud of carbon and other impacts.

        2. If the first $30k of income was tax-free, wouldn’t that also apply to people on benefits? So they wouldn’t need additional benefits – they will have the same additional cash from the higher-tax free income as everyone else.

    3. Rather than “increase fuel taxes” I think it would need to be some form of carbon price (which would apply equally to all carbon fuel forms).

      The broader idea should be real user pays, i.e. the price of an item should reflect the full cost of its production, including negative externalities. At the moment these are usually paid for separately by rate & taxpayers, but it is theoretically more appropriate to use a levy/tax to recover the additional cost from the users of the product. That should be tax-neutral.

      I’m not sure we have the ability to practically implement this, but it is something to aim for.

      1. I think it’s fair to tax fuel for transport higher than other CO2 sources, because of the other externalities it causes. Congestion, health problems from particulate emissions, cost of building and maintaining roads…

      1. For Tis I- yes they can just keep up their status quo driving habits, and won’t be better off. Or…they change habits and get more money in their pocket each week. Incentives….

    4. Raise fuel taxes to cover the full price of roads – as currently local government funds roughly half the cost of building and maintaining non-state highway roads via the council rating system. If this change was made then local government could fund the construction of walking and cycling paths and the better public transport options that are needed.

      Implement congestion charging and manage scarce car parking spaces in the tier-1 growth cities with pricing not regulation ASAP.

      Direct tier-1 growth cities to switch rates onto land-based valuations. This discourages land banking of empty city sites – which is especially perverse as it subsidises city car parking. See this Christchurch example.

  11. Great to see this article posted. I would love to see a deep dive on last mile solutions and intergration with latest EV options. The game changing extension of the 5 minute walk to the 5 minute electric scooter/bike/electric auto vehicle isn’t been looked at enough

  12. If we are serious about EV uptake then we need big discounts and subsidies to get people into them. Even with Clean Car, builders will still buy their Ford Rangers and Hilux’s – if you are in the market for a new car a small levy on top of the cost isn’t going to change your decision – especially when your company is buying it, or with such low interest rates. Similarly private buyers will still be buying Subaru Outbacks or all vintages (including new) since they work for Kiwi’s interests – like the annual ski trip etc.

    Personally I would love an EV – but why would I pay EV prices when I can have a relatively new (newer than 2010) Corolla/Outback/etc for thousands cheaper that costs bugger all to run?

    1. “big discounts and subsidies” – How much is “big”?

      Given drivers aren’t paying for the health, safety, social, land use and local environment costs of driving, nor for the carbon and other environmental costs of manufacturing the vehicle in the first place, isn’t giving discounts for vehicles simply skewing mode choice even further?

      And who pays for it? Clearly it can’t be taxation as that would put costs onto people using other modes who are already bearing the brunt of car dependence. It would need to be drivers via RUC’s or levies on ICE vehicles. Yet RUC’s and levies on ICE vehicles have, time after time, not been raised sufficiently to cover the externalities of driving.

      It would be very ironic if RUC’s and levies on ICE vehicles are finally raised to the sort of level that would put people off ICE vehicle ownership… only because we want to encourage ownership of another sort of vehicle.

      This is simply another form of car dependence. Let’s raise the RUC’s and put on the levies… and sure, put more onto ICE’s than EV’s … and spend the money creating the low carbon active and public transport networks we need.

    2. Problem is Heidi, cars are awesome. And hugely popular. So if you start taxing people out of their cars they’re gonna rebel. And then that’ll vote for whoever promises the opposite. And then you’ll get nowhere.
      You’re going to have to accept that cars are here for a long time to come.

      1. In that case we’re f*cked, sooner later governments are going to have to get real and admit this aint gonna be painless.

        1. Robincole
          you are right. In Norway a fossil fuel car with a base value of $20k euro has $11k in taxes added to it. This is the sort of move that has been necessary to drive EV growth and the same is likely to be true here.
          What about a sales tax starting at 5.0% on every car. The purchaser of the $100k pays more because they can afford it. And the poor tradie? If you can afford to buy a $50k Ranger you aren’t that poor. Or do what everyone else does, put off the purchase for a year, save yourself a further year of depreciation, and then buy the new vehicle when you can afford it. NZ is going to be way better off if replacement doesn’t occur until EVs are available. A 180g Ranger in the fleet until 2041 is decidedly unhelpful.
          And applying the feebate? Surely to lessen the price of 120g Corollas is just madness? Spending money on cycle ways, other green infrastructure, or even subsidising monthly and yearly PT passes would seem to deliver better emission reduction options.

        2. Norway?
          It’s easy for them. They’ve made themselves filthy rich exporting the very product that’s put us in this position.
          They’re no role model for anyone.

      2. Agree cars are great. I don’t agree with some of the excessive anti-car rhetoric on this site.
        At the same time trains, buses and bikes are great too, and the balance between modes DOES need recalibrating….

        1. And I agree with that. There are certainly times places and situations where where private road transport is inappropriate and or a poor choice.

        2. That’s the thing: when you have a system that is so severely imbalanced towards cars, even advocating for a little recalibration looks like ‘excessive anti-car rhetoric’.

  13. With Tiwai point going, we will have plenty of renewable electricity so that’s a good thing.

    But what if we switched to locally source 100% biofuel? If done well our transport emissions could be significantly reduced. Might be carbon neutral with the right crop.

    Plus no more sending money to Saudi Arabia, we just spend it here.

    1. NZ will use locally produced and imported biofuels to meet the targets. This will be needed for aviation, Rail, Heavy trucks and coastal shipping.

  14. One question, what do we do with the fuel driven vehicles? Dump it or take the motor out and retrofit with an electric motor? This would be more carbon friendly rather than building a new EV (which use lot of resource to build a car).

      1. It is vast though, its almost the same size as the Wynyard quarter. Only getting 300 homes out of vast area is the root of the problem (and the fact it’s halfway to Helensville).

  15. “At the same time let’s quickly consider what their suggestions actually mean. For example, holding household vehicle travel levels steady, resulting in a per capita decrease over time, means other than safety and smaller improvement projects, we’re not going to need spend money on big new 4-lane state highways”

    This is not true. Stats NZ still forecasts an increasing population through to 2050 at circa 6m vs 5m now, +20% & +1m higher.
    Even since 2001 population has gone from 3.88 to 5m now (+29% & +1.12m) and (+55% or +2.12m) to 2050.

    This makes the absolute carbon targets very challenging

  16. The NZ Herald ran an article this morning (which was wrong as usual and they have had to change) with the headline

    The End of the Sausage sizzle!

    The planet is burning and they are out there trying to ruffle feathers with click bait. Unfortunately this is what the world is up against and why until the knife is right at our pupils, Governments wont make drastic changes because they are scared of the masses and their false information they are pumped by the media on a daily basis.


    1. The End of the Sausage sizzle!
      It probably is if you want to build an outdoor bbq and reticulate gas to it after 2025.
      The Herald and programmes like Seven Sharp seem rooted somewhere in the 1900’s. The latter is giving away a car. By contrast Stuff recently gave away multiple electric bikes.

    1. And that’s an Australian perspective. The C40 Cities McKinsey Centre report identified many options for carbon reduction such as mass transportation, more use of active modes, demand pricing for parking, congestion pricing etc. This seems a more balanced approach than focusing on a primary solution.
      The major issue for NZ is that most of our cars are bought second hand from Japan and that country simply hasn’t produced many EVs. Our enthusiasm to convert our fleet will be constrained by this.

      1. John if you read the discussion paper it lists many actions needed in transport, both to mitigate the transport contribution to causing climate change, and to adapt to the altered environment we have already caused and are stuck with. For mitigation yes demand management, greater use of PT and active transport and behavioural change and town planning change are all needed.

        However when you look at the reduction in emissions needed and timing required to achieve those changes you are talking decades. Outside of Sydney private car use has a 75%+ mode share. Changing that 75% to EVs makes a large drop in emissions (electric motors are far more efficient than ICEs) even if the electricity generation source is fossil fuels. If the electricity is generated from renewables the CO2 reduction is total. And there are large synergies between EVs and home solar installation.

        So yes we need large changes to town planning, PT provision, active transport provision and EVs. But the EVs will have the biggest impact between now and 2035.

        1. Scott
          I don’t think Sydney can be considered the poster child for PT or active modes, albeit that it is years ahead of Auckland.
          I am thinking of European cities like Vienna that is targeting 1% mode share reduction for cars each year for each of the next seven years. Milan has similar ambitious targets.
          I agree that the discussion paper talks of other measures than EVs, but without much attention to targets. Auckland desperately needs to reduce congestion as much as it needs to reduce emissions, otherwise we will constantly have politicians banging on about the need for extra roads, or car parks that strip much needed money from cycle ways and PT investment.

  17. Johnwood
    I agree re Sydney and mode share. I have done some work on mode share and there are places with population densities like Auckland (e.g. Bordeaux) with much less car use that would bne more worthy of the title “poster child”. I mentioned Sydney though because it has the highest population density and PT mode share in Australasia, so it is in a sense the best case for lowest transport GHG emissions. Hence it illustrates the scale of the challenge. Better performing cities have higher density and much less sprawl, and changing urban density takes decades of consistent policy action, which means it needs bipartisan political support.

    The EA discussion paper did not have targets because it does not represent a national policy; it is advice to engineers on how to practise. Obviously policy targets are needed, and their absence in Australia illustrates the deficiency of Australian politics on this topic.

    1. I think the recent ITF discussion paper’s point that nowhere has applied all policy levers, and that there is therefore much opportunity still untapped, is important here.

      Density is important. What the conventional view is missing, but is in plain sight, is that a change in urban form does change emissions quickly. We can see that in our census results, with the vast difference in vkt/capita between the new outer areas and the older inner areas. Had the new outer areas not been built since the last census, and instead the inner areas had been intensified, our emissions profile would be quite different. Do this over even 10 or 15 years, and we’ll have changed our city.

      The best part is that this can be accompanied by massive uptick in cycling, because by stopping the sprawl, those billions of dollars can be put into repairing our streets so they are suitable for cycling. This way we can return to the higher cycling modeshare we’ve had in Auckland’s history. And then go higher.

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