13th December 2019, Volume 132 Number 1507

John Horrocks, Nick Wilson

“You’re Going to Need a Bigger Garage” reads an advertisement for the 2019 Ford Ranger Raptor in New Zealand Autocar magazine.1Despite the need for urgent action to reduce carbon dioxide…

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Summary

Vehicle emissions are an important contributor to the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand. In our analysis for this article we report that 8 out of 10 of the highest-selling new light vehicles in 2018 were sports utility vehicles (SUVs) or diesel-powered utes, with the latter standing out as the heaviest emitters of carbon dioxide, as well as posing health hazards through their emissions of fine particulates and nitrogen oxides. Furthermore, we show how these vehicles are often marked as macho symbols of toughness and dominance, often through comparisons with savage predators. The current popularity of these vehicles may create resistance to some of the substantive regulatory steps which will be needed if New Zealand is to meet its international climate change commitments.

Abstract

Vehicle emissions are an important contributor to the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand. Here we explore the role of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and light utility vehicles (utes) in this problem. Marketed as macho symbols of toughness and dominance, often through comparisons with savage predators, these vehicles are promoted largely to male consumers. Eight out of 10 of the highest-selling new light vehicles in 2018 were SUVs or diesel-powered utes, with the latter standing out as the heaviest emitters of CO2, as well as posing health hazards through their emissions of fine particulates and NOx. The current popularity of these vehicles may create resistance to some of the substantive regulatory steps which will be needed if New Zealand is to meet its climate change commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement. An example of such an initiative is the current government proposal for a Clean Car Standard and Clean Car Discount—a ‘feebate’ scheme which confers a price advantage on new electric vehicles and smaller cars.

Author Information

John Horrocks, Independent Researcher, Eastbourne, Lower Hutt;
Nick Wilson, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington.

Correspondence

Prof Nick Wilson, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington.

Correspondence Email

nick.wilson@otago.ac.nz

Competing Interests

Nil.

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