Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Climate Change: Time to phase out fossil vehicles

Back in February, the UK announced that it was bringing forward its fossil-fuel vehicle phase out from 2040 to 2035. Now, they're about to bring it forward again, to 2030. Which has caused Climate Change Minister James Shaw to suggest that we follow them:

Climate Change Minister James Shaw wants to see a new petrol and diesel car ban, to kick in at the same time as the UK’s ban.

During an interview with Stuff on his second-term priorities, Shaw said he’d recommend the policy to new Transport Minister Michael Wood as an “anti-dumping measure” as well as for environmental reasons.


Shaw, the Green Party co-leader, is concerned about the fate of the UK’s cars after the UK ban, considering most of the world drives on the right. “If we let those into New Zealand, we’re stuffed. We’ll have no chance of being able to reduce our transport emissions, which are the fastest-growing sector,” he said.

Then-Associate transport Minister Julie Anne Genter proposed a 2035 phase out date back in 2018. The government chickened out, preferring a timid and unambitious "clean car standard" (now the centre-piece of Labour's transport policy) and a feebate scheme (which they also then chickened out on). But its worth revisiting that. Because even according to the cost-benefit analysis which strapped the chicken every way it could against EVs, a 2035 cutoff still had a BCR of 1.26, and NPV net benefits of $2.25 billion. Looking at it again with updated figures on EV vs fossil costs would probably push that higher.

Its also worth remembering that, as with a thermal generation ban, this is largely a case of pushing the market in a direction it is already going in anyway, to make it go faster. The Ministry of Transport's Vehicle fleet emissions model already projects that 70% of new and 93% of used car imports will be electric by 2035, with the takeoff point really happening in 2025 and utes lagging by about 5 years. So this is about pushing things faster, ensuring we adopt clean technology as it becomes available, rather than dragging our feet. Fifteen years is plenty of time for that to happen; ten seems ambitious. Though if enough other countries go for 2030 cutoffs, then it probably won't seem so ambitious afterall.