Magazine article New Zealand Management

SUSTAINABILITY : How a Cleaner Air Policy Can Make It Dirtier

Magazine article New Zealand Management

SUSTAINABILITY : How a Cleaner Air Policy Can Make It Dirtier

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Neilson

For most New Zealand businesses their carbon footprint is mainly about vehicle use and air travel.

During the past 20 years the distance travelled by vehicles in New Zealand each year has more than doubled to 39.2 billion kilometres. Cars account for 84 percent of the travelling, and in the past six years the average age of our light vehicles (mainly our cars) has gone up from 11.9 to 12.4 years. The average engine size has also increased: 2.0 litres in 2000, 2.2 litres in 2006.

Oh dear.

Vehicle pollution is thought to be causing 500 premature deaths and costing taxpayers $800 million a year in hospital bills and asthma treatment.

So the Government has decided to phase in new emissions standards for newly imported new and used petrol and diesel cars, starting this year. For example, this year the emissions standards for light petrol vehicles, which Japan applied in 2000-2002, will come into force.

Higher standards imposed since in Japan will apply here in 2013.

But ironically this bid to clear the air may in fact keep it dirtier for longer.

While used vehicle importers campaigned against the new controls, most Kiwis and business people don't believe their claims that prices could go up by about $4000 on some vehicles as a result.

In a weighted ShapeNZ nationwide poll covering 1308 respondents (410 of them business decision makers), Kiwis say they are worried about air quality, think it is getting worse, believe claims that vehicle emissions are causing premature deaths and asthma, and support the new controls.

While car dealers' views on the size of likely price rises are not believed, the most selected price rise figure resulting from new emissions standards was $1000 (chosen by 26 percent of all respondents and 19 percent of business people).

However, there is huge agreement that new emissions standards will put up the prices of newly imported and used vehicles and as a result people with older high-emission vehicles will keep them longer.

Some 41 percent of business people mainly drive a car 10 years old or older (Seven percent mainly drive cars 15 years old or older). Overall, 56 percent of Kiwis responding to ShapeNZ drive a vehicle 10 years old or older.

So do they suspect or know their 10-year-old or older vehicle might be a high-emission one?

Some 14 percent of business people say yes (18 percent of Kiwis overall). …

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