Police will have to cycle 2000 new Škoda cruisers out of their fleet by 2025 or fork up the cash for carbon credits under the Government’s new carbon neutrality policy, Marc Daalder reports

Just a week before the Government committed to a carbon neutral public sector by 2025, the New Zealand Police announced they would be contracting with Škoda for future fossil fuel replacements for their 2000 frontline cruisers.

Now, Climate Change Minister James Shaw says the police will have to cycle those cruisers out of the fleet and replace them with electrics by the 2025 deadline or find a way to purchase carbon credit offsets out of existing, baseline funding.

In a statement released last week, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said the electric vehicles and hybrids were not the “preferred option” due to power efficiency concerns and cost.

“While incredibly promising, electric and hybrid technology are not yet a viable option for our patrol vehicles,” he said.

“However, we are committed to reducing our carbon emissions and have outlined a 10-year plan to an emissions-free fleet.”

In the meantime, police will have to buy carbon credits to offset their emissions. The two new Škoda vehicles that police have contracted for have average CO2 emissions of 162 and 176 grams per kilometre driven. That’s well below the police fleet average of 193 g/km and would mean the police would have to purchase a credit for every 6172 to 5681 kilometres driven, depending on the Škoda model used.

Police Commissioner Andy Coster and Deputy Commissioner Jevon McSkimming pose next to one of the new Škoda cruisers. Photo: Supplied

New Zealand carbon credits are currently trading at $36.15, but the price of pollution could be much higher by 2025 when the requirement to purchase offsets will come into effect.

Shaw said he thought it was unlikely that police would cancel the purchasing agreement now, but said he was hopeful that they might switch to electrics when the contract was up in five years’ time.

“I think probably that ship has sailed, sadly, because that was some months in the making,” he said.

“Because that contract is for five years and we are expecting carbon neutrality from 2025 at the latest, what I think they should be able to do is find a vehicle that fits their operational requirements that’s either a hybrid or an electric vehicle, within that timeframe. The next lease should be either a zero emission or low emission vehicle.”

Police cruisers are replaced after six or seven years of use or once they have driven 120,000 kilometres, at an average rate of about 400 per year.

Police own and operate 3249 vehicles, according to data from the Government’s procurement office, and run the ninth dirtiest fleet in Government.

Just one of those vehicles is an EV and seven are hybrids. By contrast, nearly 500 are diesel-powered.

Police Minister Poto Williams said police were prepared to reach carbon neutrality by 2025.

“Police are going to comply with our requirements under the announcements made by the Prime Minister yesterday,” she said.

“I’m confident that the fleet that they’ve engaged is fit for operation but, also, it’s going to reduce their emissions by between 19 and 38 percent.”

Marc Daalder is a senior political reporter based in Wellington who covers climate change, health, energy and violent extremism. Twitter/Bluesky: @marcdaalder

Leave a comment