Tuesday 13 April 2021

The Heart of Let's Get Wellington Moving

After a couple of decades of Wellington transport issues not really being dealt with, you might think that transport would be at the heart of the newest iteration of the thing, Let's Get Wellington Moving.

You'd have to not really know Wellington to expect that though. 

They had another big long meeting on it, and they could only agree on one thing, according to Councilor Diane Calvert.

City councillor Diane Calvert​ spent about three hours at the meeting.

She said a “mixture of opinions” were aired, but no consensus had been reached, apart from the parties agreeing that reducing carbon emissions was at the heart of LGWM.

Transport is in the Emissions Trading Scheme. Suppose that Wellington declared cars illegal and shifted to a bus fleet powered solely by the concentrated smugness of its officials. No emissions at all, or at least not GHG emissions. 

What happens next? 

Less diesel and petrol sold means the fuel companies buy fewer NZU at the next auction. 

At a reduced price, other people buy the units instead. Emissions continue elsewhere in the system, unless the drop in demand is enough to make the cap non-binding, in which case folks elsewhere stop trying to reduce emissions. 

It's bailing the sinking ship from the bow into the stern. It doesn't reduce net emissions. 

Transport planning has to take *some* account of rising ETS prices. When petrol prices go up, demand for public transport goes up because driving a car becomes more expensive - until people take on the higher upfront costs of EVs. Roads that work for petrol cars also work for EVs, right? And if there aren't enough charging points for EVs relative to expected demand, you could imagine Council subsidising the commissioning of a few more as a short-term thing. But those shouldn't be at the heart of a transport policy. They're maybe a pinkie toe. 

Local government often complains, and rightly, that central government forces unfunded mandates on it. Here, Wellington is imposing that cost on itself. And it's just dumb. You might as well put National Defence at the heart of Let's Get Wellington Moving. Or inflation. Maybe Foreign Policy should be at the heart of Let's Get Wellington Moving. Anything but actually sorting out transport issues and getting congestion charges in place. 

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