NZ petrol car ban expected by 2032 as commission reveals advice

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Words: Matthew Hansen
9 Jun 2021

The New Zealand Climate Change Commission has unveiled its full advice to the government, following over 15,000 submissions spurred on by its initial report late last year, as New Zealand aims for its 2050 environmental targets.

Among the key recommendations is the legislation of a ban on the import of internal combustion vehicles — ideally by 2030 but more likely by 2032. This is a deadline that the commission had already laid out in its earlier draft. It adds that it expects road transport to be almost completely ‘decarbonised’ by 2050, thanks to more low-emissions vehicle options and more Kiwis working from home.

The report also says that a ‘feebate’ of some form is to be introduced by 2029, designed to make low-emission vehicles cheaper to buy by lumping an added charge on high-emission ‘gas guzzlers’. The details of what this feebate look like are yet to be revealed.

It isn't just about cars, either. The report also endorses the use of electric planes for domestic flight services, stating that it hoped local journeys could be made with electric planes by 2030. Electric ships are also on the wishlist; the commission hoping they will be in service locally by 2025. 

On top of this, the commission’s final report also recommends that national livestock numbers be cut down by 15 per cent and that 380,000ha of new ‘exotic’ forestry is planted by 2035. The commission adds that not acting immediately will cost the Kiwi economy 2.3 per cent of GDP by 2050.

The commission’s report says that the country’s current course and policies are not enough for it to meet its 2050 hopes of net zero carbon emissions.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern described the need to act on climate change concerns as a “life or death” matter, adding that the move will also create jobs, reduce energy bills, and pack health benefits for New Zealanders.

“The transition to a low emissions future for Aotearoa New Zealand will create jobs and new opportunities for Kiwi businesses, help reduce household energy bills, and secure our recovery from Covid-19,” she said.

“There will also be benefits to health because of warmer, drier homes, more walking and cycling, and less air pollution. It is smarter and cheaper to act now, and that's why we've spent the last three and a half years laying the foundations for a prosperous, low-emissions economy. But we can see from the commission's advice there is more to do.

“We need to ensure the way we get around, how we grow our food, and where we get energy from to keep our homes, schools, and hospitals warm is consistent with our climate targets. How we'll do this will be set out in an Emissions Reduction Plan that will be published before the end of the year.”

In a subsequent press release, Motor Industry Association CEO David Crawford says that he supports some of the commission’s tweaks since its initial draft, but adds that the bans on internal combustion engine vehicles are “overly ambitious”.

“The Commission has altered its views on the rate of electric vehicle uptake from that contained in its draft report. However, the MIA is worried the report it still too reliant on the uptake of electric vehicles,” said Crawford.

“Bulk procurement of electric vehicles is a welcomed recommendation. However, as the world scrambles to buy electric vehicles, the Government’s ability to buy in bulk is likely to remain constrained for some years to come.

“The Commission’s proposal to ban internal combustion engines as soon as 2030 and no later than 2035 is also in our view overly ambitious. The MIA supports their recommendation to develop a low carbon fuel market such as hydrogen, synthetic fuels and biofuels. This will be more effective in quickly reducing the transport sector’s CO2 emissions.”

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