How do we halve transport emissions by 2030?

Transport contributes a good chunk of the Waikato’s emissions so how do we halve them within a decade to stay within the Paris target of 1.5° of global heating?

 Most of the answers can be found if you use this excellent interactive web tool by the 1.5 project.

Have a play around with it and you can see all the various options and experiment with what actually works to reduce transport emissions in Auckland and what doesn’t.

So what does work?  The calculator makes it plainly obvious that that reducing vehicle kilometres travelled or the number of trips taken plus electrification of the small vehicle fleet gets you the best bang for the emissions buck.

This means the clean car standard has to come in so we no longer become a dumping ground for high emission second-hand vehicles – and the feebate to encourage massive EV uptake must be introduced as well now that New Zealand First is not around to impede progress. 

These measures combined will produce around a 70% reduction in emissions for Auckland which is where we must get to by 2030.  Of course, it’s a different story in the Waikato with only Hamilton as a major city but the calculator points to how we go about reducing transport emissions everywhere.

If we are really serious about driving transport emissions down we also have to follow the United Kingdom’s leadership and ban the sale of all new fossil fuel vehicles by 2030 at the latest – preferably by 2026.

What doesn’t work are the $20 billion major infrastructure projects in Auckland, such as the City Rail Link which hardly touches the sides in reducing emissions.  No doubt there are other good reasons to have these projects, but they are next to useless with emission reductions.  For a tiny fraction of the cost of these big spending transport projects, improving cycling infrastructure does better at reducing emissions.

Surprisingly, electrifying bus fleets does not make a huge difference to emissions.  It’s still worth doing, to reduce air pollution and associated health risks but it’s not the panacea for climate action that many people imagine it is.

The person behind the emissions calculator is Dr Paul Wilton.  He has accepted an invitation to speak to Waikato Regional Council’s Climate Action Committee early next year, so hopefully we will see some realistic and informed action on transport emissions in the Waikato arising out of his visit.

For more on this see this NZ Herald article