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Where possible, we should aim to minimise, and compensate for, our transport impacts. After all, the motor car is rapidly developing into the single largest source of greenhouse gases in the modern world.

In New Zealand, we have one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world and traffic is the biggest source of air pollution in many urban areas. Older cars, poorly-maintained cars and traffic congestion cause most of the problems.

The responsibility to reduce this source does not just lie with car manufacturers and roading authorities, but with us as well.

The most fundamental thing we can do is reduce the need for excessive travelling in the first place.

  • When choosing where to live, consider which are the areas you and your family most frequent and choose a location accordingly.
  • Aim to be a one-car family.
  • Lifestyle blocks may sound appealing, but all the extra transport requirements exacts a high environmental price.

Also consider the alternatives to private vehicles for transport. Walk or use a bicycle, use public transport or organise a car pool.

Of course, in the real world, we cannot always choose where we want to live, and there may be few public transport options available even if we want to use them.

In the meantime, we may be stuck with the need for private transport. But there are still ways we can reduce our impact on the environment.

When buying a new vehicle, look at the range of vehicles available:

  • Investigate the new technology on the market. Hybrid petrol-electric cars, for example, use 50% less fuel than conventional cars, and are now being mass produced in the United States and Japan. A four-door Toyota Prius uses only five litres of fuel per 100 km, runs for 1,000 km on a single tank, and never needs plugging in.
  • If you are a high mileage traveller, you should investigate the use of LPG or CNG as lower cost substitutes for petrol, or consider a diesel vehicle.

With your existing car:

  • Join our positive petrol campaign. Avoid buying fuel from those fuel companies that oppose actions to ratify and implement the Kyoto Protocol. Ecologic recommends Shell ( and BP ( as preferred providers, as both are striving to become responsible corporate citizens.
  • Use your car at off-peak times when traffic is less congested, and combine trips when practical.
  • Have your car engine tuned at least once a year.
  • Use the maximum recommended tyre pressure (usually around 30psi or 200kPa).
  • Accelerate and drive smoothly and avoid heavy use of brakes.
  • Don’t use your car boot for permanent storage. The extra weight exacts its price in extra fuel consumption.
  • Car batteries can be recycled, and are accepted at the many local council refuse stations. Alternatively, ask your battery supplier for advice.

Further information:

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority ( )

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