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Future watch

Many of the benefits from the examples provided in the ‘Improving New Zealand’s air quality’ section of this report card may take some time to have an effect on New Zealand’s air quality.

For example, the Vehicle Exhaust Emissions Rule amendment 2007 is expected to decrease the harmful exhaust emissions of new and used imported vehicles by requiring them to meet specific emission standards. In 2007, imported vehicles added around 5 per cent more vehicles to the New Zealand fleet and a similar percentage of vehicles, mainly older, were scrapped. As the Vehicle Exhaust Emissions Rule amendment 2007 only affects imported vehicles from 2008, it will take a number of years for significant reductions in harmful exhaust emissions to occur in the fleet as a whole.13

Another example is the ‘Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart’ programme (which superseded the EnergyWise Home Grants scheme), which is expected to decrease the home heating emissions of pollutants from residential dwellings by providing subsidies for clean and efficient heating options. Just over 6000 households have already had a clean heating option installed since the launch of this initiative in mid-June 2009.18 It is expected that approximately 80,000 homes across New Zealand will be heated cleanly and efficiently over the coming years as a result of the programme.19 Therefore, it will take a number of years for significant reductions in home heating emissions to occur.

Vehicle kilometres travelled by road in New Zealand are expected to gradually increase in line with population increases and growth in the economy. However, the emissions from the vehicle fleet are expected to continue to gradually improve, due to improved engine technology, the Vehicle Exhaust Emissions Rule, and increased consumer demand for lighter, smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. 13 As a result, expected increases in vehicle kilometres travelled may not result in increased emissions and air pollution in the near future. 13 For more information about changes in travel by road, please see the Vehicle Kilometres Travelled by Road report card.