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Wellington City Council, New Zealand Goes Electric

In a bid to replace all fossil-fuel-powered-passenger vehicles with electric alternatives by 2030, the Wellington City Council has added 24 more electric vehicles (EVs) to its fleet. By mid-August, there were 40 EVs for staff to use for daily operations. The city also has plans to reduce the number of fuel-powered vehicles in the fleet.

The new vehicles can be recognised out and about in the city by the bright yellow ‘100 percent electric’ branding and waka hiko (electric vehicle) on the doors in line with Tupiki Ora, the Council’s new ten-year Maori strategy that embraces the use of the language. All branding was made from non-PVC products. PVC is a large contributor to plastic waste and is difficult to recycle.

According to the Wellington City Council’s Fleet Advisor, Vishal Garg, the Council has set a target to be 100% electric by 2030 if not sooner, and this is just one way the Council is making changes alongside Wellingtonians to reduce city-wide emissions. “We need everyone to work together to be a net zero carbon capital,” he stated. The Council intends to educate people on EVs, and how they can consider climate change when using transport.

A study by the New Zealand Transport Agency (Waka Kotahi) about Kiwi behaviour shows that on average, people don’t travel more than 20 to 50 kilometres a day. Introducing electric vehicles that are capable of a 250-300 kilometres range in one full charge will be the right match for most Council operations. As Wellington city is compact, there are many opportunities for people to change the way they travel throughout the city and have an impact on carbon emissions. “You don’t need to drive as often as you think because so many things are in walking, biking or scootering distance, and there’s also handy public transport,” Garg added.

An official from the First to Zero Programme said that while the Council’s key focus is on promoting the use of active and public transport modes, it is recognised that this may not be a solution for all transport needs. There will be circumstances that require the use of motor vehicles. By transforming its fleet to zero-emission EVs, the city will utilise a full suite of transport solutions that all help to create a zero-carbon future. Transport emissions are a key contributor to climate change, as highlighted in the First to Zero action plan, with 35% caused by road transport.

Adopted in June 2019, First to Zero is a blueprint to make Wellington City a zero-carbon capital (net zero emissions) by 2050. This blueprint outlines key activities that can help reduce emissions in four target areas: transport, building energy and urban form, advocacy, and the Council.

Under the national government climate-change work programme, the country targets reducing net emissions by 50% below 2005 gross emissions for the period 2021-30. Cities across New Zealand are investing in green alternatives to achieve these goals. In April, Auckland launched two fully electric ferries. As OpenGov Asia reported, the ferries can reach a top speed of 25 knots (on par with today’s diesel ferries) with a range of 40 kilometres.

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