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The National Party has today announced a pledge to have 80,000 electric vehicles in the national fleet by 2023, and to make the Government’s fleet one-third electric by the same date.
National would allow businesses who pay for employer-provided electric cars to be exempt from paying fringe-benefit tax, and would exclude EVs from road user charges. Electric cars would also be able to drive in bus lanes. The Government would lead on increasing New Zealand’s electric car fleet by mandating that all new cars in the state-owned fleet are electric.
Notably the policy doesn’t include commitments to introduce anything like the electric vehicle “feebate” scheme, recommended by the Productivity Commission. The “feebate” would provide grants for people to buy low-emissions vehicles alongside an additional charge on gas guzzlers.
“National’s electric vehicles policy is a very cautious step in the right direction, but really underwhelming in the context of the climate crisis,” says Greenpeace climate & energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson.
“Just as we saw with Labour’s energy policy announcement yesterday, National are slowly tip-toeing forward when they should be taking the big, bold strides that we need to address the climate crisis.
“Right now, the world is quite literally on fire with unprecedented wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest, California and Siberia. The apocalyptic scenes from San Francisco are coming through less than a year after the devastating Australian bushfires covered New Zealand in a red haze.
“The climate crisis knows no borders. Every nation and every government must act with urgency. After these two announcements, New Zealanders will be left wondering whether either of the two big parties is actually committed to taking climate change seriously.”
Larsson says that what’s needed is a commitment to banning imports of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. This is consistent with moves by more than 14 countries and over 20 cities around the world.
She says more needs to be done to also incentivise people to make their next car electric, so that we can bend the curve away from purchasing gas guzzling double-cab utes and SUVs.
“In 2018, New Zealanders bought more than 60 times as many gas guzzlers as electric cars. Transport is our fastest growing source of carbon emissions and it’s easy to see why.
“Any political party that’s serious about tackling climate change needs to discourage the import of gas guzzlers and instead encourage low emissions options. With billions of dollars of Covid Recovery Funds being made available to stimulate the economy, providing grants for people to purchase electric cars is just common sense.”
Larsson says that today’s electric vehicles policy is another sign that National is not taking the climate crisis seriously.
“National have told New Zealanders that they want to overturn the ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration, and have indicated they would weaken the Zero Carbon Act. Both moves would be disastrous for the climate.
“This is out of step with New Zealanders who, overwhelmingly, want to see a green recovery from Covid-19. According to Ipsos polling, 79 percent of New Zealanders are concerned about climate change. Sixty-three percent feel that if the government does not act now to combat climate change, it will be failing the people of this country.”