KiwiRail has expressed its support for the New Zealand Government’s proposed amendments to the Climate Change Response Act.
The governing Labour Party’s Zero Carbon Amendment Bill proposes that the country achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 in keeping with the aims of the Paris Agreement.
KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller stated that the company was well-placed to “help New Zealand move to a low-emissions future”.
Miller added that rail produced up to two-thirds fewer carbon emissions than road per tonne of freight carried.
This approval is in keeping with KiwiRail’s own attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which it reduced by three per cent in the 2017-18 financial year.
The company’s chief executive officer Peter Reidy was also one of 14 CEOs to join the Climate Leaders Coalition in July 2018.
The government-backed operator’s initiatives in this regard include the fuel-saving Driver Advisory System (DAS) and introduction of new electric vehicles to its rail fleet.
Last year, the government reversed a decision to replace 15 KiwiRail electric locomotives on the North Island’s Main Trunk line with diesel equivalents, announcing that it would instead refurbish the trains for continued use at a cost of $35 million.
The NZ National Party said that it welcomed the propsed amendments to the act but argued that its methane reduction targets were too severe.
“We are not convinced that the proposed 24-47 per cent reduction for methane meets our test in terms of science, economic impact or global response,” said Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges.
Methane emissions are particularly prominent in the dairy farming industry, which represents a highly important export market for the country.
Research from the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre in 2017 stated that 49 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions came from the agricultural industry.