New Zealand Should Ban New Petrol and Diesel Vehicles

The only question is how soon? 2030?

Successive governments have been unwilling to impose a high enough price on carbon so the emissions trading scheme was doomed to fail. So why not look to other policy mechanisms to reduce our emissions such as a ban on the sale of new petrol diesel vehicles, and on the importation of those vehicles?

The real question is not if but when such a ban should be introduced. Many other countries have already announced such bans – 


In a recent article by Jonathan Boston, he suggests New Zealand should introduce a ban by 2030. This would give 12 years lead time to adapt. Of course, it would take many decades for all petrol and diesel cars to disappear. In 2016 around 40% of light vehicles were at least 15 years old so it will be mid-century, even with the ban, before these vehicles are fully phased out.  The ban would have to apply to second-hand imports to avoid New Zealand becoming a dumping ground. 

The current target of 64,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2021 sounds a lot except when you realise that it represents only a tiny proportion of New Zealand’s current 4.4 million vehicle fleet. We are ideally placed for this transition with over 85% of our stationary energy coming from renewable sources. 

If the new government is going to be really serious about making climate change our “nuclear-free moment” then a ban on petrol and diesel vehicles has to be at the top of the pile of policy options.