To give an idea of the scale of the problem, if we are to convert our car fleet to electric in thirty years, we need to import 70,000 battery powered cars a year. Its not expensive as we buy 100,000 petrol cars every year but we need a financial environment to achieve the changes as the upfront purchase price of an electric car is higher than an internal combustion engine vehicle. Batteries are coming down in price at the rate of 8% a year and should reach parity with ICE cars within three to five years but the market needs some short-term help to get the numbers up now.
A billion dollars on our ancient railway system will help improve or infrastructure but will it help with climate change? Our existing rail stock burns diesel and changing to electricity powered engines would be a game changer. Putting heavy transport on the rail separate this traffic from cars and saves lives and the cost of repairing roads from this heavy wear.
New Zealand is starting from a reasonable position with each person producing 8 tonnes of CO2 a year which is similar to Europe and China and considerably better than Australians and USA citizens who are over 16 tonnes but we are not improving our position.
New Zealand has 2.5 gigawatts of wind farm energy consented, which is equivalent to two and a half Huntley power stations, but we do not need the energy because we are not using electricity for transport and instead we import $5 billion of oil a year. A few tweaks to our car import tax and GST could swing the purchase of cars to electric and we would be on our way.
We are burning coal at the Huntley power station because the climate induced drought means that our hydro dams are running out of water. We should have financial concessions for rooftop solar to boost home installations and save our hydro power for peak power when demand is greater than solar, wind and geothermal can supply. This would also manage our rivers better as we could supply water from the dam when the river needs it rather than use water to make electricity when electric power demands it.
Climate change is a relatively slow acting event but we have should have started forty years ago and now the situation is becoming urgent as temperatures are already rising dramatically.