Minister welcomes major ‘air’ report

The state of New Zealand’s air is generally good says the Associate Minister for the Environment, Hon Nanaia Mahuta after the release of a new report on our air this morning.

Our air 2018, released by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, shows that while some pollution issues still persist, progress has been made and the levels of some pollutants are declining. 

The report shows that the use of wood and coal burners to heat homes in winter continues to cause problems in some cities and towns. The other key finding is that vehicle pollution remains a concern in our major cities.

“This Government already has work underway to reduce the emissions from our vehicles, and we are pushing for faster adoption of electric vehicles, which will improve air quality and reduce our impact on climate change,” said Hon Nanaia Mahuta.

“I’m heartened that the report finds the situation is generally good and progress has been made, and I thank everyone who has made choices to help our air quality, for example switching to public transport or buying a clean and efficient wood burner.

“Our Coalition Government has introduced the healthy homes standards which has meant with better insulation there has been a reduction in the need to heat our homes. Next year there will be grants to low incomes households for two thirds of the cost of ceiling and underfloor insulation. This will mean that we can work towards a shift away from coal for home heating in some towns.

“I know councils across the country are working to improve the quality of their air. But we can and should do more, especially if we’re to reduce the health impacts associated with air quality issues.

“For that reason I have today announced a review of the National Environmental Standard (NES) that covers our air and I intend to release a consultation document mid-2019. The NES was created 14 years ago and so it’s timely to ensure it remains fit for purpose.

“While air quality may not be the biggest environmental issue New Zealand faces, it is of real concern to those affected, and to those who care more generally about our environment.  Air is potentially the most ‘immediate’ of the environmental domains. We breathe it and walk around in it every day. So it’s important we take care of it,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

Editor’s Note: The report is available at: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/environmental-reporting