Friday, January 27, 2006

One of the things that is wrong with the Greens

From Frogblog:

the Transport Ministry has confirmed it is investigating a Green Party proposal to link car registration charges with fuel efficiency as occurs in Europe. Such an initiative is used in France, where car taxes are graduated according to engine size, while in Britain charges are based on vehicles’ CO2 emissions per mile.

Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, who is in charge of the Government’s energy efficiency programme, said such a scheme would reward people who bought “environmentally sensible” cars.

“It is essential to improve the efficiency of New Zealand’s vehicle fleet as quickly as possible to protect ourselves against ever-rising fuel prices and to reduce unnecessary climate change emissions,” she said.

“The only way to do that is to target vehicles entering the country.”
Now I don't know much about cars (understatement of the year), but my understanding that old cars are particularly fuel inefficient. You know who earns old cars? People who can't afford new cars. It's all very well to pretend that the only people who use lots of petrol are people who are using a gas-guzzling SUVs (it helps if you follow this up with some kind of gendered insult about the sort of person they are), but that's not reality. Too many of the Greens policies rely on regressive taxes to get behaviour changes, because they seem to blame ordinary people for the state of the world.

I'm not convinced by capitalism, governments, or much of what we have going on, but I do sometimes have opinions about how they should operate. Here's a basic philosophy: No policy goal is worth taxing the poor to achieve.


  1. Anonymous11:29 am

    While it is generally true that older cars are less fuel efficient than newer cars, by the early 1990's most of the technological changes that increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions had been incorporated into almost all production vehicles built in Japan. In other words a vehicle with a 2.0 litre engine produced in say 1994, would not be greatly different in efficiency or emission than a 2.0 litre engine produced in 2004. (Probably a difference of 5-10% at most.)

    In the New Zealand car market today there are many japanese cars that were built in the 1990's that would qualify for discounted registration under the current schemes in Europe and the UK, (due to either sufficiently low emissions and small engine size) and are also more affordable now than they have ever been.

    If a person can afford to own a relatively cheap car in New Zealand (2-5K) then there is no reason why they cannot own a fuel efficient, low emissions vehicle if that is what they want.

  2. Quite a lot of people can only afford a car in the $500 range - or at least choose to only run a car in this price bracket.

    Anyways, policy decisions are seldom black and white. Based on your argument, should we abolish GST and get rid of the public healthcare system to pay for it?

  3. It may be far better to require cars to be tuned up at WOF time - it costs very little to do and can achieve quite significant savings - benefiting the owner and the environment.

    However, anti-car policies always hit those on low incomes- public transport is almost never better for people.

  4. That's partly because Auckland, in particular, is a grossly misplanned city. In most European cities, the majority of the population either don't run a car or don't use one for the daily commute (for an average central London worker car-commuting would cost about NZD20k annually).

    Auckland has been allowed to develop such that public transport is unattractive for the user and uneconomical for the city. Reducing car dependence needs to start with town planning.

  5. Rich, to change this you need to destroy half of the houses in Auckland and replace them with highrise towerblocks to get the densities right to sustain intensive public transport. In fact the majority of households in major western European cities DO own a car, they just don't drive it into the city.

    Aucklanders by and large want to live in houses on quarter acre sections, and all of the intensification plans of recent years have done little to change that. Short of fascism, you can't make people live in higher density housing if they don't want to, or can afford not to.