Where’s the plan?

Today the UK Government released its draft Carbon Plan containing some 130 actions and targets to reduce emissions.

With petrol prices nearing record highs, UK Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, said Britain had no option but to speed up efforts to move away from oil. “Getting off the oil hook is made all the more urgent by the crisis in the Middle East. We cannot afford to go on relying on such a volatile source of energy when we can have clean, green and secure energy from low-carbon sources.”

We’re facing the same pain at the pumps here, yet the focus on what to do about it in the media seems to limited to advising people to ‘pump up their tires, go easy on the brakes and close the windows’ which is simply a Band-Aid covering up our severe dependence on oil for transport.

The UK report is receiving bouquets and brickbats there but for me, it raises the serious question – where’s our plan?

New Zealand is one of very few countries with no modern strategy to deal with oil price shocks and last year turned down a Green Party request for an inquiry. Oil is the lifeblood or our economy and as research I released last week shows that every increase of $US1 in the price of a barrel of oil wipes out $40m to $60m of New Zealand’s annual gross domestic product, and destroys between $22m and $33m in household spending. We’re hooked on oil and in denial about it.

We have comprehensive plans for biosecurity, terrorism, and the Rugby World Cup and I believe it’s irresponsible for our Government not to develop a comprehensive oil price shock plan.

13 Comments Posted

  1. Gareth

    Mass conversion to CNG for a starting act.

    Development of NH3 based engines to handle the long term transport issue, with NH3 being generated from electricity on a local basis. This removes the batteries and the rare-earth issues for motors. It also removes transport/distribution issues for the NH3.

    It leaves rare-earth issues for generators in the wind turbines and other sources, but rare-earth’s are NOT required for those to be built. They are used mostly to make them lighter and more efficient.

    Can this nation build engines? I think perhaps yes, perhaps economically barely yes. Depends a bit on the cost of NOT doing it.


  2. Mike – there are many different types of batteries and you do not know how much raw material there is. Your other lame excuse, that it is already too late is not true either but it will be if people like you continue to come up with feeble excuses to do nothing. On this issue it seems the greens are on the side of big oil because the world on mass is not going to abandon their vehicles and walk, even if you want them to.
    Electric cars were shredded in the US because they were so successful they posed a serious threat to the oil industry (unlike the green party)and the motor trade as they never broke down.
    There you go Gareth, there’s the plan.

  3. Its simple. There can’t be a plan. We the voters wont let there be a plan.

    Anyone who remembers President Carter knows what happens when you tell the people what they need to hear and what they need to do.

    On the other hand, I bet there is a bunch of unelected folks who have no other brief than to figure out what to do when the red alert button is pressed. It wont be enough, it wont be in time, but it will be marginally better than starting from nowhere.

  4. Yes, one of the reasons we have governments is to enable us to do things that are too big for small groups. Ironic when we have mps who think it is all about individual effort as though that could achieve everything a community needs.

  5. I asked the Minister of Finance today and he confirmed there is still no plan.

    We’ll leave it up to the market (but still pour $10 billion into new motorways impacting peoples choices!)


    Hey Janine – I agree, communitites will have to prepare themselves. One of the reasons I’m in Parliament is that it is really hard or sometimes impossible for a community on their own can get a rail link established or a community wind farm without Government support. Transition Towns and community sustainability initiatives could be so amazing with real Government support and a genuine two-way relationship.

  6. No public transport in the country

    You have the bus networks of Intercity, Newmans, et. al.

    Prebble got rid of the railways

    Passenger rail in New Zealand had died long before Prebble was Minister – the process began in the 1920s when New Zealand Government Railways established their Road Services division which saw the end of some passenger rail operations (these included Napier to Hastings).

  7. No public transport in the country and Prebble got rid of the railways. We’re going to have to go the transition town route and look after our own community’s needs as well as work from home.

  8. In 12 months oil could be US$200 per barrel, what will petrol be $4 per liter ?

    That really depends on what happens to the exchange rate in the meantime. We are all waiting for the inevitable hyperinflation to hit the United States, so US$200 per barrel could happen without any change to prices at the pump here.

    then what, we all start using the non existent public transport as no one can afford to run their car

    There is the bus system, which is reasonably extensive in several centres as well as between the various centres.

  9. @Mike – I don’t know of batteries using rare earth metals – they tend to be used for powerful magnets, also required by electric vehicles. However there could be a shortage of lithium for batteries.

    Why are we allowing non-rechargeable lithium batteries to be sold and discarded after use?


  10. My God it is so depressing how thick our govt can be when they can’t acknowledge the risk to the economy of rising oil prices. Their spatial plan for Auckland is reprinted from the 1960s. Check out transportblog.co.nz

  11. The plan is… there is no plan,just build more motorways, don’t bother fast tracking the cycleways or creating better public transport systems, govt gets over 40% of the cost of petrol as revenue by stealth, why the higher it goes the better, all the more to waste conning the public until the next election.

    In 12 months oil could be US$200 per barrel, what will petrol be $4 per liter ?, then what, we all start using the non existent public transport as no one can afford to run their car, motorways will be empty. Electric cars would be nice but unfortunately there isnt enough of the required rare metals on earth to manufacture enough batteries, will be too late by then anyway, the crunch is now upon us.

  12. Weren’t the motorways part of this plan, or is it the lignite mining…or perhaps buying BMWs for everyone? I’m sure they do have a plan, it’s just hard to know what it looks like.

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