Friday, August 09, 2019

Climate Change: Chickening out on a fossil-fuel vehicle cutoff

When the government announced its timid and unambitious vehicle "feebate" policy, my first question was why they hadn't coupled it with announcing a cutoff date for fossil fuel vehicle imports. Such a policy would turn off the tap of transport emissions, while providing lead time for us to electrify the vehicle fleet within the normal upgrade cycle. The feebate advice noted this had been proposed and rejected, and someone used FYI, the public OIA request site, to ask for the advice about it. The advice shows that Associate Transport Minister Julie-Anne Genter proposed a 2035 cutoff last year, but that it did not make it to Cabinet. Sadly, its completely silent on why not, but I think we can all guess.

The released advice (such as it is) also includes a cost-benefit analysis. This straps the chicken every way it can, with lowball carbon prices, arbitrary costs for "welfare impact" of people not buying the car they want (which end up making up the majority of "costs"), and most astoundingly, a "business-as-usual" emissions case which assumes that a 50% by 2050 target will be met (quite how is unclear, and assuming targets will be met when assessing policy designed to meet those targets seems to be getting things arse-backwards). But even then, it shows a BCR of 1.26, and NPV net benefits of $2.25 billion - which is hugely better than most of National's roads. So, this policy would have been beneficial, and it would have been effective at turning off the carbon tap. It is a disgrace that it was not implemented.