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EECA calls on New Zealanders to say no to short car trips

Six out of ten Kiwis don’t know that their petrol or diesel car use is likely to be their single-biggest contributor to their carbon footprint, reveals research* released last week by EECA (Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority), the agency behind Gen Less. 

What’s more, short car trips under two kilometres make up nearly a third of all car trips on our roads in New Zealand**, that’s more than a billion trips each year, with these trips using more fuel per kilometre than average. 

In response to these findings, EECA’s Gen Less platform is calling on New Zealanders to rethink their transport choices and reduce their emissions through the launch of the Gen Less Shop pack, a shopping bag turned backpack, that frees up Kiwis to cycle, walk, or scooter home with their belongings – hands-free. It’s the first of its kind to hit New Zealand streets.  

Jo Bye at EECA said: “New Zealand is a nation of car lovers and transport is responsible for 48 percent of the country’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. With over 3.3 million light passenger vehicles on the road, we have never owned more vehicles per person than we do now, and it continues to be on an upward trajectory***.” 

“Short car trips from our petrol or diesel-powered vehicles produce a higher rate of carbon emissions per kilometre, compared to longer trips as cold engines use more fuel, and households make on average twelve short trips each week,” Bye said. 

The research also revealed that Kiwis believe that recycling and reducing plastic waste have more of an impact on the climate than their transport use.

“Clean and clever energy use is vital to achieving a low-emissions economy and being smarter about the ways we use transport is critical to this.”

“We know it’s not easy lugging shopping bags for small top-up shops, running an errand, or picking the kids up from school or sports practice, so jumping in the car is often a default choice. We’re encouraging Kiwis to consider climate-friendly modes of transport such as biking, scooting and walking when making trips under two kilometres instead. The Gen Less ShopPack – or any backpack – is an easy solution, enabling you to carry a small load with ease, while getting some fresh air.”

“If every New Zealand household switched their car for a climate-friendly mode of transport for two trips every week (two kilometre average), we could save around 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year, which is roughly the average amount of carbon dioxide stored annually by 4,800 hectares of pine trees (equivalent to about twice the size of Rangitoto Island),” said Bye. 

Countdown’s General Manager of Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability Kiri Hannifin said: “Given our efforts to reduce our own emissions, it was a no-brainer for Countdown to get involved with this campaign. It’s an innovative and clever way to let customers know that while trips to our stores are part of daily life for many Kiwis, car emissions don’t have to be!”|

The specially designed Gen Less ShopPacks will be given away to Countdown Newtown, Wellington customers on Friday 19 March and Countdown Grey Lynn customers on Friday 26 March from 4pm while stocks last.

For more inspiring ways to use less energy, and for more information, head to genless.govt.nz

EECA is the government agency that works to improve the energy efficiency of New Zealand’s homes and businesses and encourages the uptake of renewable energy. Their purpose is to mobilise New Zealanders to be world leaders in clean and clever energy use. 

*Research – EECA Consumer Monitor – Oct-Dec 2020. 

** Ministry of Transport NZ Household Travel Survey Data 2015-2017.

*** Ministry of Transport Annual Fleet Statistics Report 2019.


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