Labor changes in automobile regulations, this time with national support

Transport Minister Michael Wood has delayed implementation of the emissions standards. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Transport Minister Michael Wood is changing legislation at the heart of National’s climate change last week, delaying implementation of the Government’s new vehicle emissions standards, the Clean Cars Standard.

Last week, National leader Christopher Luxon became confused about whether National backed the clean car discount or the government’s clean car standard.

Luxon finally declared National-endorsed emissions standards, but not the Clean Car Standard that was in place last week. Transport spokesman Simeon Brown said National is still not happy with the standards but will vote in favor of Wood’s bill to delay its implementation.

Following industry feedback, the government has delayed implementation of the Clean Car Standard, an emissions standard for imported vehicles. It has also exempted motorcycles and mopeds from the rule.

“As of January 1, 2023, imported vehicles incur a credit or charge based on CO2 emissions.

The addition will see payment of charges deferred until June 2023 to ensure a smooth rollout for the industry. The system encourages importers to bring in a sufficient number of credit-attracting low- and zero-emission vehicles to offset the charges levied on higher-emitting vehicles,” Wood said.

“Emissions from our light-duty vehicle fleet are the largest source of transport emissions in New Zealand, thanks in part to having some of the most fuel-inefficient and highest-emitting vehicles in the OECD,” Wood said.

Wood said he had “listened to the industry request for a delay and to work together to confirm a time frame that balances successful implementation with the need for action. This brief extension strikes that right balance.”

The standard works by requiring vehicle importers to progressively reduce CO2 emissions from both new and used light-duty vehicles brought into New Zealand. This is achieved by setting CO2 targets that get more ambitious year after year. If importers import more clean vehicles, they will pay lower fees or no fees under the standard.

Brown said National was still opposed to where the standards were set, but National would vote to delay their implementation.

“It seems like a slight delay, it’s a ‘clean car’ from this government,” Brown said.

Brown had been unable to obtain a copy of the bill when he spoke to the Herald.

“This is not changing the standard and where it is set. I understand that this only delays the implementation of it a bit.

“What we have said is that we support emissions standards and currently we don’t support where they are,” Brown said.

Brown said National wanted to “work with the industry” to change the standards to something National could support.

He said that Nacional supported the principle of a delay.

“In principle, we support a delay, which is what the industry wants,” Brown said.

The bill will go through all the states this week under urgency.

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