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On Friday Transport Minister Michael Wood released a Ministry of Transport ‘green paper’, which outlines “potential policies and pathways to a net zero emissions by 2050 – called Hīkina te Kohupara – Kia mauri ora ai te iwi: Transport Emissions: Pathways to Net Zero by 2050.
“Reducing emissions across the transport sector is an enormous undertaking, but it is achievable and will help support our economic recovery,” Michael Wood said.
“The transport sector currently produces 47 per cent of New Zealand’s CO2 emissions and between 1990 and 2018, domestic transport emissions increased by 90 per cent.
“We’ve already taken steps to reduce emissions but Hīkina te Kohupara shows we have to go much further.
“The pathways laid out in the report show it’s possible to meet our emission reduction targets, but big changes will be needed in the coming decades. There will be some hard choices to make, but it’s obvious we can’t continue with business as usual.”
Both the Minister and Ministry make it clear that this green paper, or discussion document if you will, is not government policy but given the work behind it, as well as the work being done by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and local government, it’s hard to see how much of it wouldn’t eventually form part of their policy. I think it also highlights the value in letting officials say what they really think rather than trying to fit to the ideology of the government of the day.
The report shows that based on current projections, including a increasing rate of electric vehicle uptake, that if we don’t do anything different then by 2050 we’ll still be nowhere near our needed net zero emissions.
The key reasons our emissions are so high is nothing new, and laid out below.
Our per capita transport emissions are high in comparison to other countries
Our per capita transport emissions are high in comparison to other countries Aotearoa has the fifth highest per capita rates of CO2 emissions from road transport in the 43 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries with data for road transport emissions. The top four countries were Luxembourg, the United States, Canada and Australia. Our high per capita transport emissions are a result of several factors, including:
The Ministry have used an Avoid-Shift-Improve (ASI) framework to come up with their recommendations.
Transport emissions are driven by transport activity (number of trips and kilometres travelled), mode share (percentage share of different modes), energy intensity (quantity of fuel used per kilometre) and carbon intensity (emissions from quantity of fuel per kilometre)
The ASI framework addresses each of these four elements:
From these they’ve come up with three key themes for how we address emissions. Themes 2 (Improving our passenger vehicles) and 3 (Supporting a more efficient freight system) are largely what we’ve seen before, with things like improving the uptake of electric vehicles, improving the efficiency of non-electric vehicles etc.
Theme 1 is where the Ministry differs from previous reports, such as the draft recommendations from the CCC, is it sees a much greater role for changing our urban form and mode shift in reducing our emissions. We think the Climate Change Commission was extremely unambitious on this and placed far too much reliance on electrifying the vehicle fleet. As a later part of the Ministry report states “Avoiding activities that produce emissions is, on balance, a more effective strategy than minimising the emissions from those activities“.
The Ministry’s suggestions on how we change the way we travel are summarised below (from page 35) and picks up on many of the things we talk about on a regular basis. It’s music to our ears seeing the Ministry pick up on these points and the detail behind them, which is discussed on subsequent pages.
I also quite like this little graphic showing the progression from movement focused streets to people focused ones, though it should perhaps also show some trains/buses and off-road cycleways on those sections on the left.
There’s so much of the detail behind all this I’d like to cover here but if I did this post would be way way longer than it already is.
The Ministry have taken the themes and applied different weightings to come up with four potential pathways for reducing emissions, with the fourth developed after the release of the CCC’s draft recommendations. These are described below:
Pathway 4 is the only one that meets the 2035 target set out by the CCC.
What’s more, from an infrastructure point of view, Pathway 4 is also the cheapest.
While there are four pathways, there will obviously be bits taken from all of them in the policy changes that we will eventually see. But it seems that through this work the Ministry, or at least one part of it, have come to the realisation that we’ve ultimately got two choices:
If you want to provide feedback, submissions close 5pm on Friday 25 June. There is not feedback form so you need to send any submissions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to them.
This article first appeared on www.greaterauckland.org.nz
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