New Zealand to boost electric car sales

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 16 2022 01:51 PM

Tesla vehicles are displayed during the opening day of the Tesla 'Gigafactory' in Gruenheide near Berlin, Germany, March 22, 2022. Christian Marquardt, Pool/EPA-EFE
Tesla vehicles are displayed during the opening day of the Tesla 'Gigafactory' in Gruenheide near Berlin, Germany, March 22, 2022. Christian Marquardt, Pool/EPA-EFE

WELLINGTON — New Zealanders who trade in their gas-guzzling car will get financial aid towards buying a cleaner alternative, in one of a raft of climate change initiatives announced by Jacinda Ardern's government Monday.

The country's first Emissions Reduction Plan, costing nearly 3 billion NZ dollars (1.88 billion US dollars), outlined spending for the next 4 years to help meet its goal of cutting carbon dioxide emissions to net-zero by 2050.

A "scrap and replace" pilot scheme will initially give 2,500 low-income families financial support towards an electric or hybrid vehicle if they replace their petrol- or diesel-powered car.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said the scheme's details were yet to be finalized but he envisaged it would expand rapidly to include "tens of thousands" of New Zealanders.

He said the government's ultimate goal was for less reliance on all cars by 2035 by getting people to switch to public transport or other alternatives.

The government also allocated 650 million NZ dollars to help cut fossil fuel use in the industrial sector over the next 4 years.

There will also be an investment in developing agricultural technology -- regarded as critical in an economy heavily reliant on farming exports.

Conservationists noted the timing of the investment, coming on the same day scientists announced they had recorded a mass bleaching of sea sponges in New Zealand waters for the first time ever.

An ocean heatwave damaged the sponges in the normally cold waters off Fiordland, in the country's southwest, raising concern about the impact climate change is having on marine ecosystems in the region.

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