Earlier this month the New Zealand Government unveiled its ‘Te hau marohi ki anamata – Transitioning to a low-emissions and climate-resilient future’ consultation document; a plan of sorts designed to reduce national emissions via a series of proposed ideas.
As previously reported, these ideas include ensuring 30 per cent of the national light vehicle fleet is electric by 2030, reducing the amount of kilometres travelled by 20 per cent by 2035, reduction of the emissions created by freight transport by 25 per cent by 2035, and to reduce the emissions intensity of transport fuel by 15 per cent by 2035.
The government is taking submissions on its ideas up until November 24.
Off the back of the announcement, the Ministry of Transport (MoT) and the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) held a webinar event earlier today, in an attempt to flesh out some of the document’s plans and to answer questions.
Quizzed about internal combustion engine vehicles, representatives from both groups pointed to the likelihood of a ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles, including hybrids.
“Hybrid vehicles will play an important role in reducing emissions in the early part of the transition as EV technology and supply improves,” said MfE climate change senior analyst Ainsley Smith. “But in the longer term, hybrids will likely also need to be phased out sometime after non-hybrid ICE vehicles to meet our emissions targets.”
Many have suspected that a ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles is on the cards in New Zealand, particularly given the support for the idea by the Greens and the recommendation of a ban by the Climate Commission.
During the webinar, MoT principal advisor Joanna Pohatu said that while the MoT would be keen for a ban on ICE vehicles, the government needs to find out whether there’s an “appetite” for such a ban amongst Kiwis.
“Many countries have put in place policies that ban ICE vehicles, and we’re proposing we follow that so we do not become a dumping ground for those vehicles,” she said.
“We need to find out New Zealanders’ appetite for an ICE ban and are they keen to have an ICE ban in place. Our preference is to get it in as soon as possible, because that influences the policies we go forward with. But we need buy-in to push that through.”
One of the biggest issues with New Zealand’s ability to implement such a ban is supply. Almost every mainstream manufacturer that offers a plug-in vehicle in New Zealand has noted the difficulty of acquiring a stable supply of these vehicles, since Europe and the US typically score priority over regions like Oceania.
And, while it’s true that the likes of the UK and wider Europe are bringing in bans and emissions targets that are more ambitious than those we have locally, those markets also have their own vehicle production lines and, therefore, their own dedicated supply of plug-in vehicles.
On the flipside, demand for plug-in vehicles in New Zealand has never been stronger. Last month saw an electric vehicle, the Tesla Model 3, top the passenger vehicle sales charts for the first time ever. The EV finished second only in the month’s outright registration figures to the Ford Ranger.