Readers interested in climate change will know that transport emissions are a key part of our current Kyoto problem. Transport is responsible for around 18% of total CO2 emissions - and emissions from the sector are growing at around 4% a year. Last week, when browsing the Ministry of Economic Development's Energy Data File, I was wondering whether the current sustained high petrol prices would have any effect on this trend. The answer, it seems, is "yes". With petrol hitting $1.70.9 a liter, consumption growth has basically disappeared:
Despite the soaring prices, Kiwis have yet to desert their cars in droves. An oil industry insider said industry-wide sales figures for the year to March showed little change from the previous 12-month period.
This represents a slight decline as overall consumption usually rises 1 per cent to 2 per cent a year.
We'll have to wait a couple of years for people to do the figures to see if this is reflected in CO2 emissions, but it looks good - and the longer prices remain high, the more effect it will have. While petrol usage is notoriously "sticky" - short-term rises have little effect - in the longer term high prices do encourage people to buy more efficient cars or shift to public transport. Which is exactly what needs to happen if we are to get our emissions under control.