Ministry of Transport officials have eschewed English when mentioning the title of a discussion document on climate-change emissions and how to reduce them. Maybe this explains the strength of the public response, as measured by submissions.
On the ministry website we learn:
Summary of Submissions Hīkina te Kohupara
Wow. That’s 0.01% of the population, if each submission represents the interests of just one citizen, although some submissions (fair to say) would have been made on behalf of many people.
Our Minister of Transport, Michael Wood, has demonstrated he is a dab hand at drilling into thin data and coming up with rich pickings.
Today he has issued a press statement in which he declares there is “strong support” on a range of potential policies to eliminate transport emissions.
The statement is headed Kiwis want emissions driven down.
It was one of three new ones posted on The Beehive website since Point of Order last brought readers up to date with what our ministers are doing.
One of the others deals with the Alert Level Four lockdown, which does the climate a huge favour by significantly reducing traffic flows and hence the emissions.
Curiously, there is no press statement from the PM to record her announcement of the lockdown.
But her deputy, Finance Minister Grant Robertson, says the Government decided to move to Alert Level 4 for New Zealand starting at 11.59pm last night, initially for three days, except for Auckland and the Coromandel peninsula, where it is likely be at level 4 for seven days as a result of a new case in the community in Auckland.
He and Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni have activated several business support measures. These are outlined in his press release.
Latest from the Beehive
Strong support on a range of potential policies to eliminate transport emissions reinforces the need to take action to tackle climate change, Transport Minister Michael Wood said today.
Significant Government support for businesses and workers has been triggered following a rise in alert levels to combat COVID-19 in the community, Grant Robertson said.
Work is under way to upgrade the communications systems on board New Zealand’s two Anzac-class frigates, HMNZS Te Kaha and Te Mana, the Minister of Defence Peeni Henare announced today.
But let’s get back to Michael Wood and his grasp of survey data.
“Strong support on a range of potential policies to eliminate transport emissions reinforces the need to take action to tackle climate change”
He proceeds to explain that the Government today released the summary of submissions on the Ministry of Transport report outlining potential policies and pathways to a net zero emission transport sector.
Let’s credit him with recognising that some members of the public might be English-speaking. He refers to the paper as Hīkina te Kohupara – Kia mauri ora ai te iwi – Transport Emissions: Pathways to Net Zero by 2050.
“Domestic transport emissions increased by 90 per cent since 1990 and they need to fall significantly for us to reach our goal of net zero emissions by 2050 – that’s why we wanted to have a national conversation about what steps we need to take.”
His next number is much more vague:
“We’ve made progress with initiatives like our Clean Car Package which will prevent millions of tonnes of emissions, but we have to go further to meet our targets.”
And then he discusses the policy challenge:
“The pathways outlined in Hīkina te Kohupara show it will be a big task, but getting to net zero transport emissions is achievable. If we achieve our goal, we will clean up our air, unclog our cities and support our economic recovery by creating sustainable jobs across the nation.”
So far, so good.
The next bit of the press statement gives us an idea of the “strong” Kiwi support he mentioned in the first paragraph:
“Out of the over 700 submissions, there was 93 percent support for Hīkina te Kohupara, and 81 percent of submitters called for a higher level of ambition to reduce Aotearoa’s emissions. There was broad support for three themes of changing the way we travel, improving our passenger vehicles, and supporting a more efficient freight system.
“Submitters, particularly councils, agreed to the need for a systems-lead approach to rapidly avoid and reduce emissions, and cautioned against a siloed approach.”
But wait a mo’.
The discussion paper triggered 767 submissions to the Ministry of Transport.
Only 190 of the submissions were “unique individual or group submissions”, the ministry website says.
The great majority – 577 – were Greenpeace template submissions.
Hence Wood’s claim to have “strong support on a range of potential policies to eliminate transport emissions” is looking somewhat like the strength of support he has for bridges for cyclists and walkers across the Auckland harbour.
But whatever the strength of the response, Wood says:
“We’ve listened and the feedback has been incorporated in the transport chapter of the all-of-Government draft Emissions Reduction Plan, which will be released in the coming weeks. This will outline the steps the Government proposes to take to drive down emissions.”
A summary of submissions received in response to Hīkina te Kohupara is available on the Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport website.
UPDATE: We have changed the headline on the original post and the text to reflect the reality that some submissions would have been made on behalf of several people.