New Zealand will help pay for cleaner cars to cut emissions

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The New Zealand government said Monday it will help pay low-income families to phase out their old gas-guzzling vehicles and replace them with cleaner electric or hybrid cars as part of a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The government said it plans to spend NZ$569 million ($357 million) on the trial program as part of a broader plan that includes subsidies for companies to cut emissions, a switch to an all-green bus fleet for 2035 and food waste on sidewalks. collection for most homes by the end of the decade.

“This is a historic day in our transition to a low-emissions future,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement. “We have all seen the recent reports of sea level rise and its impact here in New Zealand. We can’t leave the problem of climate change until it’s too late to fix it.”

The plan represents a step towards pledges the nation made under the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change and New Zealand’s stated goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Ardern, who was scheduled to launch the plan but canceled after testing positive for COVID-19 late last week, said every community and sector had a role to play and reducing reliance on fossil fuels would help protect homes from volatile price increases.

The plan also sets a goal to reduce total car travel by 20% over the next 13 years by providing better transportation options in cities, as well as better options for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The programs will be paid for by a NZ$4.5 billion ($2.8 billion) climate emergency response fund. Officials said that over time, the money collected from polluters would pay for the programs instead of household taxes.

But the plan fell short on some details, including the gas-guzzling replacement plan that the government says will be finalized in the coming months.

And some critics said he continued to give an easy ride to the nation’s huge agricultural industry, which generates about half of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions but is also vital to the economy as the nation’s largest source of revenue. country’s exports.

“Some of the announced policies, like the cash-for-junk system, have been shown to be dogs and have been tried and failed abroad,” said David Seymour, leader of the libertarian ACT party.

Seymour said consumers should be able to choose how they reduce emissions through the market-based emissions trading scheme.

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