Russel Norman

Government opts for big cars while cutting health spending

by Russel Norman

Why does the National Government continue to put the squeeze on essential Government spending in health and education while refusing to save money by ensuring that govt vehicles are fuel efficient?

Yesterday, National and Act voted down my Government Vehicle Procurement Bill in Parliament — a Bill which sought to introduce minimum fuel efficiency standards for the Government’s fleet of 21,000 vehicles.

My Bill was a reasonable, practical, rather modest way for our Government to show climate change leadership by driving an efficient fleet of vehicles. The Current Government Fleet and Procurement Practice Report (2006) found that, “except for the district health boards, there is significant potential to reduce vehicle size across the fleet”. The current average emissions performance is 210g/km of CO2 (9.2 l/100km).

Earlier this year, Transport Minister Steven Joyce ruled out any kind of across-the-board vehicle fuel efficiency standards, judging them to be heavy-handed and expensive. However, visiting International Energy Agency (IEA), Dr Nigel Jollands, disagrees.

On Morning Report (7.19 mins into the clip) today, Dr Jollands cited New Zealand for lagging behind the rest of the OECD with vehicle fuel efficiency. He said, “There is definitely a role for the government to mandate and regulate fuel efficiency standards of vehicles coming in.”

Why is the world going the way of energy efficiency standards? Because energy efficiency is the most affordable way to confront the challenges of economic development, climate change, and energy security at the same time. Additional up-front costs of applying the standards are more than recouped later with fuel and carbon savings over the working life of the vehicle.

Energy efficiency standards are the low-hanging fruit for longer-term cost savings and energy security. We’ve set out our plan for vehicle fuel efficiency standards in Getting There. We’d set average fuel economy standards for light vehicles coming into NZ and progressively raise them from 2013 to 2019. Importers would be free to meet the average with any mix of vehicles they choose and could trade unders and overs among themselves. Vehicles imported in 2020 would use half the fuel per 100 km compared with current imports. That would save the country 3 Mt of CO2 emissions.

Published in Environment & Resource Management by Russel Norman on Thu, November 19th, 2009   

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