The Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Land Transport is the context in which all Government land transport policy is developed – and ever since the current National-led Government came to power, successive Government Policy Statements have been heavily focused on roading, despite the clear evidence that building more roads does not solve congestion.

Unfortunately, the latest draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport shows no sign of changing this.

Its strategic priorities are unchanged from the 2015 GPS (p. 8):

The three strategic priorities, continued from GPS 2015 are:

  •  economic growth and productivity
  •  road safety
  •  value for money.

Strikingly missing from these strategic priorities is the environmental performance of our land transport system. Perhaps that’s because it’s already bad and rapidly getting worse: whether in regard to the serious local health effects of particulate emissions from transport, the effect of motorway-building on urban environments, or the urgent need to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport.

The New Zealand Government has ratified the Paris Agreement, taking on a commitment for a substantial reduction in New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions. Land transport is responsible for around 20% of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the volume of transport emissions has been rising steadily. Land transport is second only to agriculture as a greenhouse gas emitting sector.

The Government is relying mainly on a move to electric vehicles to reduce transport emissions. However, the composition and replacement rate of the New Zealand vehicle fleet both mean that, even if such a change were to occur, it would not occur either fully or quickly enough to produce the level of emissions reduction required.

Therefore, one of the aims of the Government Policy Statement should be to drive a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from transport. This can be achieved by prioritising the use of public transport and of active modes and the provision of the necessary infrastructure, and by deemphasising the provision of infrastructure for private motor vehicles, which will in turn encourage more journeys by what is currently a highly polluting motor vehicle fleet.

Based on this draft Government Policy Statement, the ratification of the Paris Agreement is not being reflected in actual Government policy.

How to submit

Submissions on the draft Government Policy Statement close at 5pm on Friday 31 March 2017. Details of how to download the draft Strategy, and make submissions, can be found on the Government draft GPS page at

http://www.transport.govt.nz/ourwork/keystrategiesandplans/gpsonlandtransportfunding/

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