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News of attacks on Saudi oil facilities and the resulting global oil price shocks had many drivers feeling anxious this week.
And it’s not like it’s the first time high petrol prices have dominated the headlines this year, with the Prime Minister recently calling out fuel retailers for ripping off customers.
As New Zealanders once again approach the petrol pump with trepidation, many will be sharing the same thought: what if I didn’t have to keep doing this?
Last year, New Zealand spent $11.2 billion importing petroleum, largely to fill up our growing fleet of thirsty cars at the fuel pump. That same fleet is driving up household carbon emissions while Kiwis grow ever more anxious about climate change.
What if, instead of dishing out billions to overseas oil companies while polluting the atmosphere we depend on to survive, we could run our cars on clean, homegrown energy made right here in New Zealand from our boundless supply of sunshine, wind and water?
Imagine being able to charge up your car at home, using power you made yourself from the sun beating down on your roof. Or harnessing cheap overnight power prices from the wind that keeps blowing and the water that keeps flowing in our hydro lakes.
Better still, imagine being able to safely walk or bike to work and not have to breathe polluted air on the way. Or being able to shortcut through traffic on reliable and accessible electric buses and trains that take us where we need to go.
The Government’s recently-proposed Clean Car Scheme is a good step in the right direction towards cutting our dependence on dirty, outdated fuels, if only a modest start. In this world of increasing storms, droughts and floods, alongside unpredictable oil prices, what could be more sensible than making it less attractive to import gas guzzling SUVs and double cab utes, while providing an incentive to make your next car electric or fuel efficient?
This week’s attack on Saudi oil facilities is an important reminder of why we’d be better off ditching our dependence on dirty oil. It’s just the latest example of how oil is bound up in the geopolitics of war. Not to mention the fact that oil is a major driver of our growing climate emergency.
Nobody likes feeling locked in to inefficient and outdated ways of doing things. We can power our homes and transport systems with clean energy made right here in New Zealand. And we must, for the sake of our children and theirs.
It’s time for New Zealand to embark on an ambitious clean energy programme, building the homegrown solar and wind energy we need to power our commutes without needing to worry about the cost of oil – financial or otherwise.