WELLINGTON, New Zealand, May 5 (UPI) -- The government of New Zealand said Thursday it was taking additional steps to adopt a low-carbon economy by creating incentives to use more electric vehicles.
"It's clear that electric vehicles are the future," Energy and Transport Minister Simon Bridges said in a statement. "A move from petrol and diesel to low-emission transport is a natural evolution, and it is our aim to encourage that switch sooner, rather than later."
Bridges unveiled a package of incentives the government said will remove some of the barriers that inhibited the broader use of electric vehicles. According to his estimates, consumers would pay the per-gallon equivalent of 85 percent less for fuel with electric vehicles.
The New Zealand government said it wants to double the amount of electric vehicles to 64,000 by 2021. To aid in reaching that goal, the government said it was extending tax relief measures, backing a five-year promotional campaign with $690,000 and offering another $4.1 million to support innovation in low-emission vehicle projects.
"If we start to replace New Zealand's fleet with electric vehicles, we can begin to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions," Bridges said.
Utility company Genesis Energy announced last year it's on pace to shut down its last two coal-fired power plants by December 2018, effectively marking the end of coal power in New Zealand. By 2025, the government aims to get 90 percent of its electricity supplied through renewable energy resources.
Nevertheless, the country continues to support its fossil fuels industry. Oil is the fourth-largest export for New Zealand, bringing in around $700 million each year in royalties and taxes. The government said there are around 149 million barrels of oil reserves remaining in fields already in production.