Climate Change: What New Zealanders have to change and when

Like it or not, climate change is going to drive significant changes with energy use, transport, travel and food. In other words, to the way we live.

Newshub – Climate Change: What New Zealanders have to change and when

Newshub Nation explores what will be different about how we get our energy, how we get around, how we shop, how we travel and what we eat.

Energy:

The Government has set a target of being 100 percent renewable by 2035. Currently, 82 percent of our energy comes from renewable sources – mainly hydropower.

“We’ve obviously got lots of wood lying around and the problems we had in Tolaga Bay – you can imagine that would have been much better used as a source of energy if we’d had the supply chain set up,” says James Shaw, Minister for Climate Change.

Another potential solution to the storage problem is using renewable sources to produce hydrogen gas, which acts a bit like a battery.

“Hydrogen plants can make a lot of energy at short notice, and that’s a really key capability that we need to push the last bit of coal and gas off the grid and get to 100 percent renewable,” says Katherine Errington, Helen Clark Foundation executive director.

Transport:

Transport accounts for 19 percent of the country’s emissions, mainly because New Zealanders love their cars.

We imported 319,662 light vehicles in 2018. Of that total, just 5,542 or 1.7 percent were electric or hybrid cars according to the Ministry of Transport.

This needs to change and fast. By 2030, the Productivity Commission says 80 percent of NZ vehicle imports need to be electric and by 2050, nearly every vehicle will need to be electric. As at March 2019, electric vehicles (EVs) made up just 0.3 percent of our fleet.

Drive Electric’s Mark Gilbert says the quickest way to get more EVs into the market would be through adjusting the fringe benefit tax, to incentivise businesses to transition their company fleets.

For trucks, trains, ships and planes, green hydrogen offers a potential climate-friendly solution.

Air Travel:

Aviation is one of the trickiest areas to reduce emissions. It currently produces about 859 million tonnes of carbon each year or around two percent of global emissions. However, by 2050 it is expected to emit more than any other sector.

solution put forward by the UK Climate Commission is having industries like aviation pay to remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere. It estimates the cost of this at $20b-$40b in the year 2050, with that cost likely passed on to consumers. This means the price of flights will start to increase from 2035 as emission removals are predicted to scale up.

Shopping:

Online shopping can actually be better for the environment than traditional shopping, because it means people aren’t driving their cars to and from the store.

However, US research found online shopping is only better when consumers choose regular delivery rather than express shipping, which creates nearly 30 percent more emissions.

Food:

This is probably the most controversial area to make changes, but with the world’s food system accounting for nearly a quarter of all emissions it is one of the areas we need to adapt.

In New Zealand, agriculture makes up half of our emissions – mainly from livestock burping methane. This gas breaks down in the atmosphere after 12 years, unlike carbon, which can hang around for hundreds of years. However while it is shorter lived, methane is 25 times stronger than carbon when it comes to warming.

“There are ways to try and reduce methane which are being researched – what you feed the animal on, how you breed the animals to produce less methane,” says Ralph Sims.

“But if we can increase the productivity [e.g. more milk from each cow] then that’s a better alternative than having to reduce stock numbers.”

Sims also says that the potential of vegetable protein is something that New Zealand’s agricultural sector should keep an eye on.

The world may change significantly as a result of climate change.

I think there is no doubt how people live will change significantly regardless. Climate change as well as population, resource depletion and pollution will all at least need to be adapted to, one way or another.

Look, another petition

Petitions used to be an important tool in the democratic process, but now they are so overused they are easily ignored but politicians (unless they want to use them as justification for something they want to do).

Petitions are becoming so common, and it is so easy to get online ‘signatures’, most of them are a waste of time apart from being a means of harvesting contact details from those who sign up to them.

 

Auckland transport plan announced

Labour Minister Phil Twyford and mayor Phil Goff have announced a ten year transport plan for Auckland.

While it will bolster rail, cycleways and walkways, it includes major spending on new roads and motorway improvements links, and will rely in part on Public Partnerships and toll roads as well as a regional fuel tax.

RNZ: New $30b plan to tackle Auckland transport woes unveiled

The government and Auckland Council have announced the new Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) at Newmarket train station today.

Billed as New Zealand’s largest ever civil construction programme, $28 billion will be poured into light rail and roading projects at Penlink and Mill Rd.

Heavy rail and bus upgrades, safety improvements and more dedicated cycle lanes are also part of the plan.

The projects will be funded by $4.4 billion raised from the new Auckland fuel tax, increased revenue the National Land Transport Fund and Crown Infrastructure Partners contributions.

ATAP major investments include:

  • Committed projects like the City Rail Link and northern motorway improvements.
  • Light rail
  • Eastern busway (Panmure-Botany)
  • Airport-Puhinui State highway upgrade, including a high quality public transport link to an upgraded Puhinui rail station
  • Bus priority programme, to more rapidly grow Auckland’s bus lane network and support faster, more reliable and more efficient bus services
  • Albany-Silverdale bus improvements
  • Lower cost East West Link to address key freight issues in the area
  • Papakura-Drury motorway widening
  • First phase of the Mill Road corridor
  • Penlink (tolled)
  • Walking and cycling programme to expand the network and complete key connections (e.g. SkyPath)
  • Significant programme of safety improvements
  • New transport infrastructure to enable greenfield growth
  • Network optimisation and technology programme to make the best use of our existing network
  • Rail network improvements including electrification to Pukekohe, additional trains and other track upgrades

Read the full plan here

And of course there are critics (apart from National). RNZ: Transport plan ‘too little, too late’ for south Auckland

It’s been billed as New Zealand’s largest ever civil construction project – but South Aucklanders say a government transport plan doesn’t go far enough.

But Jatin Khurana, who travels from Papakura to Ellerslie every day for work, said waiting 10 years for just the first section to be upgraded wasn’t going to make much of an impact.

“The first phase – those few kilometres – that’s going to have a bottleneck effect so it will not really improve the situation,” he said.

“I think it’s too little, too late.”

Mr Khurana said the heavy congestion on the Southern Motorway and the increasing traffic on Mill Road had driven him to take the train.

Stuff: Auckland transport fix: Key facts

Memo to Phil Twyford – you don’t speak on behalf of ‘New Zealanders’

Ex National MP Wayne Mapp via Twitter: Ardern and Twyford are betting their futures on voters backing their zealotry

In reality the government has largely continued the broad economic settings of the Key/English government. The CPTPP was signed, and in a pretty much unchanged form to the TPP. Basic tax rates are unchanged, and as a consequence so is the overall level of government.

But the government is Labour led, and the prime minister is youth adjacent. She is closely identified with younger urban professionals living in inner city suburbs. For her, climate change is her generation’s anti-nuclear moment. This must signify some sort of fundamental change, not just in the language of virtue signaling that is so familiar to the left, but also in actual policy.

The first real indications of these changes have been in the recently announced transport policy and in the Kiwibuild project on the 29 hectares of land where 4,000 dwellings are proposed, presumably mostly apartments. In these announcements the government, particularly Phil Twyford who is the key minister for both, has spent a great deal of political capital in telling New Zealanders what is good for them. In both cases the prime minister led the announcements, so these are things dear to her heart. She intends that her government will be identified by them, and that it is a government with very different priorities to National.

The Spinoff has had articles praising both, by Matt Lowrie of Greater Auckland on the transport plan, and urban designer Matthew Prasad, one of the advisers to Unitec to transfer its land for intensive development. Both of them are within the core cohort of Ardern’s support base. Naturally they like what they see. In fact they have each had a hand in the basic philosophy of the proposals. Both initiatives represent their vision of what New Zealand should be like, rather than what it is.

But neither of the proposals have much appeal to typical National party supporters, who, after all, are nearly half of the population.

Phil Twyford has responded (via The Spinoff): Memo to Wayne Mapp: New Zealanders want more rapid transit, fewer new roads

In one of the more baffling attacks on KiwiBuild, former National MP Wayne Mapp this week claimed the government is “telling people how they should live” by building affordable houses and bringing our transport system into the 21st Century.

In his column for The Spinoff, he also attacked the Labour-led government for being part of a new “internationalist urban elite”.

These criticisms say more about Dr Mapp’s antiquated thinking than they do about the government’s plans.

I’m not sure how building affordable homes in Mt Albert for desperate first homebuyers is telling people how they should live.

I’m also not sure how wanting to ease Auckland’s congestion makes the government part of an internationalist urban elite.

We’ve listened to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch who have all asked us to support rapid transit (rail, light rail and busways) in our cities, rather than building more, or wider, motorways. It is part of our commitment to build liveable cities.

Of course people in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch would like better public transport options via rail or bus. And better cycling and walking options.

But I’m fairly sure quite a few of them don’t want that at the expense of motorways and roads.

Same for many people who don’t live in or near one of the three main cities – over half of New Zealanders would no doubt like better public transport, but won’t get it, so will still quite like to be catered for be new roads.

Young people today no longer believe they have to own a car.

Another sweeping unsubstantiated statement. I’m fairly sure some young people want to own cars, I see young people driving cars all the time.

Twyford would argue his transport policy case better if he didn’t resort to claims that are obviously inaccurate.

Government proposes more fuel tax, more spending on walking, cycling and trains

The Green influence seems obvious in changes to funding and expenditure on transport, with a possible increase in  fuel tax (for Aucklanders that would be a double hit), and substantially more funding to go towards public transport, and cycle and walking infrastructure.

Stuff:  Government to invest in road safety and rapid rail at expense of state highway upgrades

The Government has unveiled its 10-year plans for land transport, which includes huge investment in road safety and rapid rail at the expense of state highway upgrades.

The annual $4 billion a year National Land Transport Fund is a work programme carried out by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), which is guided by the priorities set by the Government in the Government Policy Statement (GPS).

  • Proposing a fuel tax increase of between nine and 12 cents a litre to fund a raft of new land transport plans that focus on investing in road safety and rapid rail.

The tax would be a double whammy for Aucklanders who can also expect Auckland Council to introduce about ten cents a litre in regional fuel taxes to pay for major transport projects.

  • Walking and cycling infrastructure is getting a 248 per cent boost in funding over three years and a whole new area is being set up to deal with funding for rapid transit.
  • The other big investment areas in the GPS are regional roading improvements, public transport – which is receiving a 46 per cent hike in funding – and new investment in rapid transit and rail.

So a major shift being tried from private car use to public transport and Shanks’ pony.

But National’s transport spokesman Jami-Lee Ross says the Government’s proposal will be met with “anger and disappointment right around New Zealand”.

Cutting $5 billion out of the state highway construction programme over ten years is an “extraordinary blow for regional New Zealand from a Government which has claimed to stand behind it”.

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter:

Today marks our first huge win for the Greens in government.  Alongside Labour, we’ve just announced an exciting, transformative transport strategy for Aotearoa.

The National government were stuck in neutral, taking money from the regions to spend 40% of the transport budget on just a few stretches of motorway. Instead, we’re putting that money into projects with high total returns and focussing on public transport, cycling and road safety upgrades, especially in regional areas where we have seen far too many accidents and roads in disrepair.

What does it mean? We’ll more than double expenditure on public transport and cycleways in cities, but we know that half of all travel occurs on local and regional roads. New investment of $800 million will focus on desperately needed safety improvements – more median barriers and passing lanes on the open road, and safer streets in our towns. We’re also investing in regional rail to reduce big trucks on your roads.

And we’re tackling climate change. For the first time ever, we’re making the environment a major priority in transport. From now on, transport spending must focus on how it can reduce climate pollution as well as other negative impacts on public health such as water quality.

I’m so proud of these wins. They wouldn’t have happened without the Greens in government.

Some good will come of this, but not everyone will be happy.

You may be best to hope for subsidised walking shows and bicycle clips, and hope you live c lose enough to a railway line but not too close to be annoyed by the noise.

English announces National’s transport policy

Bill English is in Auckland announcing National’s transport policy.

Today we have announced that we will invest $267m to accelerate the construction of key commuter rail projects in Auckland & Wellington.

We will electrify the Southern Rail line to Pukekohe ($130m), and accelerate the delivery of the Third Main Rail Line in Auckland ($100m).

Electrification is a key element of the National led government’s focus on supporting a cohesive, efficient transport system for Auckland.

We’ve worked with Council to come up with a long-term, fully costed plan to deliver the transport system Auckland needs over the next 30 yrs.

In Wellington, we will deliver a package of projects worth $37m to support the increased use of commuter rail.

$267 million investment in commuter rail 

National is committing up to $267 million of investment over the next three years in the Auckland and Wellington commuter rail networks to support future passenger growth, National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says.

The package includes the electrification of the Papakura to Pukekohe rail line, adding a Third Main Line from Wiri to Westfield and double-tracking the Wellington commuter network between Trentham and Upper Hutt.

“Commuter rail has experienced strong growth in Auckland and Wellington. The National-led Government is continuing its already considerable investment in public transport with a further $267 million investment in commuter rail,” Mr Bridges says.

“In Auckland we will invest $130 million to electrifythe track between Papakura and Pukekohe to support these important growth areas in the south and provide a more reliable and efficient services for commuters.

“Electrification is a key element of the National led government’s focus on supporting a cohesive, efficient transport system for Auckland.

“Auckland’s population growth has meant more commuter trains using the rail network around Auckland and competing with the growing number of freight trains using this important corridor.

“We’re committing to invest $100 million for a Third Main Line from Wiri to Westfield providing a dedicated freight line. This will increase the efficiency of this important corridor, allow for greater frequency, improve travel times and provide more reliability for commuters.

“We’ve worked closed with Council to come up with a long-term, fully costed plan to deliver the transport system Auckland needs over the next 30 years.

“This means we’re investing in the right projects, at the right times. Projects like the City Rail Link which will deliver a step change in Auckland’s commuter rail network.

“We are also announcing a $37 million Wellington Commuter Package. This will further enhance the reliability of Wellington’s commuter rail network and builds on Budget 2017’s $98.4 million investment in Wellington’s commuter rail network.

Wellington’s commuter rail package includes:
• A full double track on the Hutt Valley Line between Upper Hutt and Trentham – $22 million
• A third platform for Porirua Station – $3.5 million
• A turn-back facility at Plimmerton – $2.5 million
• Upgrade of bridges and slopes – $9 million
• Upgrade of ‘Park and Ride’ facilities for the Kapiti and Hutt Valley Lines
• A programme to integrate and optimise rail and bus services.

“The Wellington commuter rail package will enable a more reliable, efficient and frequent commuter service in Wellington. These improvements will support the growing the patronage of these services, Mr Bridges says.

“Together these projects represent a $267 million investment in commuter rail in our biggest cities commuter rail networks.

Q&A:  $267 million investment in commuter rail

Q+A: Bridges on transport and economic development

On Q+A this morning:

Political Editor Corin Dann talks transport and economic development with Simon Bridges. With the America’s Cup confirmed, will the Government bring forward spending on Auckland?

Bridges is supposed to be a National up and comer. He is MP for Tauranga and:

  • Minister for Economic Development
  • Minister of Transport
  • Minister for Communications
  • Associate Minister of Finance

“The giant transport money-go-round”

PartisanZ posted a comment yesterday about New Zealand’s “giant transport money-go-round” regarding transport funding and spending. This is worth more exposure here.


In the Winter 2016 edition of ‘AA Directions’ magazine there’s an excellent article “Taxing Truths” by Peter King about “the giant transport money-go-round”, with additional information & stats by Mark Stockdale.

While “the numbers are enormous”, as they say – $10bn allocated from vehicle taxes + $3.9bn from rates revenue June 2015 – June 2018 – an MoT survey shows “79% of trip choices and travelling time is either driving or riding in a motor vehicle.” Walking comprises 17%, public transport 2.8% and cycling 1.2%.

Our spend-up is not extravagant by international standards. Of 48 nations in the international transport forum, NZ’s spend as a proportion of our economy is 46th.

The stats regarding funding sources are fascinating to me. Public Transport Users = $320m, Tax Payers $460m, Rate Payers $1.6bn and Motorists $3bn. Of the Motorists contribution, Rego = $183m, while Petrol Tax – which makes up $1.00 of a litre of petrol costing $2.00 – total = $1.6bn. Around 65% of this goes to the National Land Transport Fund.

As the owner of a ‘Light Diesel’, what strikes me as a possible ‘funding source’ discrepancy is RUC’s at $410m for Light Vehicles and only $790m for Heavy Vehicles? I believe heavy vehicles do more than twice the damage to our roads? If the U.S. data is relevant this is true – “Jun 2, 2009 – Freight trucks cause 99% of wear-and-tear on US roads, but only pay for 35% of the maintenance.”

https://truecostblog.com/2009/06/02/the-hidden-trucking-industry-subsidy/

And an exhaustive NZ study pdf, which seems to support the idea – e.g. axle passes – although I haven’t read it carefully – (80 pages) –

https://www.nzta.govt.nz/assets/resources/research/reports/281/docs/281.pdf

The spend is also interesting – Roads (includes footpaths and bus lanes) = $3.546bn, Public Transport = $1.61bn, Policing and Education = $390m and Walking & Cycling = $27m
So public transport’s spend clearly outweighs its preferred usage, although perhaps it must be offset by whatever reductions are achieved in fuel consumption, congestion and pollution?

The article is spiked with comments from politicians, ranging from National’s Simon Bridges, “We’re focused on enabling economic growth rather than simply responding to it.” through Labour’s Sue Moroney, “… this doesn’t look like a winning strategy to me. NZ needs a smart, integrated transport system to get things moving.” to The Green’s Julie Anne Genter, ” … National … putting up fuel taxes to pay for a few eye wateringly expensive highway projects, which will actually make congestion worse, and lock people into paying higher fuel taxes … if they spent the same amount on public transport and rail and sea for freight, the roads would be safer … and we’d have a world-class transport system.”

Finally, three examples of ‘typical’ annual contributions. A family of 5 in Auckland with 2 vehicles, own home = $2,621.51, a Uni Student in Wellington, renting, who uses PT and owns a scooter = $290.77, and a retired couple in Nelson, own home, with one vehicle + PT = $873.98

King finishes well IMHO, “But this huge money-go-round is going to have to change … the future is electric … any solution will require robust discussion about who pays for what and who gets subsidised by whom.”

Drive safely everyone …


PartisanZ added:

Major changes coming in the transport realm though. Fuel tax has apparently been rising partly (or mostly?) as a result of increased fuel economy? As vehicles become electric and to a lesser extent hybrid this form of funding – and tax increase – will be impossible to justify.

I wonder what people think the possible solutions are? Cheaper fuel and more Local Govt road tax? Toll roads? Some kind of combined registration and RUC’s for all vehicles? The technology exists to do almost anything nowadays …

Dave1924:

I am interested that the authors have picked a win with the statement that the future is electric. I would have thought hydrogen power cars might be a significant contender..

The amount of tax on a litre of petrol is truly eye watering and is incredibly regressive have a disproportionate impact on the poor segments of society.

PartisanZ:

Yes, both hydrogen powered – with the hydrogen produced elsewhere – and perhaps water-powered, where water is converted to HHO or “Brown’s Gas” onboard? [I know almost nothing about the chemistry or technology – I’m not that way inclined].

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxyhydrogen#Brown.27s_Gas

http://www.nlcpr.com/Deceptions10.php – claims “Water4Gas HHO and Brown’s gas are frauds and scams”

Brown Gas Generator – Alibaba
http://www.alibaba.com › … › generator › gas generator

Other more sustainable options should be competing with electricity in a so-called ‘free market’, although both access to water and electricity production surely have their environmental and geopolitical implications too?

Years ago I read a tiny news item in the Herald or Star about a Kiwi man arrested at Auckland airport trying to leave the country carrying trade secrets. He apparently worked for a company which produced and sold welding equipment based on Brown’s Gas – or similar – where the one set of equipment could do all forms of welding? [My remembered details are sketchy]. The same technology could apparently be applied to an internal combustion engine with very few modifications?

patupaiarehe:

Might have been something like this PZ http://watertorch.com/

Or maybe this, which looks a little more crediblehttp://www.safeflameproject.eu/technology/

My understanding is that they are just very efficient electrolysers. Instead of using a constant DC power source, like we did at school, they use electronics to deliver pulsed DC at just the right frequency.

As for powering a car with one, well you would need a big battery that you would still have to charge from an outside source.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_of_energy

A little further reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resonance

Have Green transport promises been costed?

The Greens have announced transport policies for the Wellington local body elections.

Newshub: Greens promise half-price buses for Wellington students

The party is promising a 25 percent discount on off-peak bus fares and a 50 percent discount for students.

Election carrots for students isn’t surprising as that’s a target demographic for the Green

They want more central city and suburban green spaces, free Wi-Fi in all transport hubs, modern electric buses within 10 years and light rail development.

Some of that sounds expensive. And how will they get more central city green spaces?

It’s part of the party’s local election campaign, launching tonight.

I wonder if they will provide details in their launch. Like, how much these policies will cost rate payers. Most students don’t pay rates directly so won’t be worried about local body rates.

 

Transport tolls in Auckland

A comment from Alan on transport tolls in Auckland.


Toll roads for Auckland?

AA spokesman Barney Irvine said feedback from members showed there was support out there for tolls – as long as people saw direct congestion benefits.

“But there’s also a lot of scepticism.”

There was an important distinction between using tolls to manage demand on the roads and raising revenue, Mr Irvine said.

No, there isn’t. Both are anti-competitive monopoly exploitation. User pays is entirely different and an honourable principle which the politicians need to rediscover and auditors need to validate.

NZ Herald: Auckland road tolls: Will drivers be forced to pay 40c per kilometre?


 

I’m a long way from Auckland and it’s transport congestion (as much as possible), I got fed up with it forty years ago and left after a short experience in the big smoke, so don’t have strong feelings on this.

Perhaps ironically the current banner headline at the Herald:

BREAKING NEWS Crash blocks city-bound lanes ahead of Auckland Harbour Bridge…

Traffic in Auckland can be bad enough on a good day, but crashes create chaos.