VIA supports the transition to a low-to-no emitting economy and environment and therefore supports in principle the changes necessary to get there. That said, we felt there was an entire section missing from the discussion document. We acknowledge that the proposed first order changes might each be useful in accomplishing the goal, but even collectively it “feels” like tinkering and a squandering of potential.
We feel what is missing is the second order changes that will be necessary.
In fact, in most cases, it feels like government has simply put a “carbon savings” number on projects they were planning to do anyway. There appears to be dubious double counting of savings, with many of the proposed initiatives having an obvious bleed effect on the savings of other proposed solutions.
For instance, if the plan is to electrify the fleet, how then will congestion charging reduce emissions? Our success in the former nullified the savings from the latter.
We are also dismayed by the continued lack of prioritising an equitable transition. Most, if not all, of the proposed schemes will be regressive, negatively impacting lower socioeconomic groups the worst. The development of the “Equitable Transition Strategy” needs to be prioritised, and, when making this effort, the status quo should not be considered the baseline, change – even change that initially seems negative – is always an opportunity to improve outcomes.
If a policy will increase inequitable outcomes, it is a poor policy and should be categorically discarded. The hope that some future policy will mitigate that inequity later is the same line of thinking that created the situation we are now trying to extract ourselves from.
Equity is an important consideration for VIA because many of our members come from, belong to, have relationships with, and/or cater specifically to lower-socioeconomic groups.
VIA would like to positively highlight the recognition by the government that it is important to work with the private sector to find solutions but would also like to warn government that businesses cannot voluntarily make the change. It is simply not how the economy, or the private sector, works.
Government is the only entity that can put the solution in place to fix this problem and responsibility for doing this cannot be deferred. Business can be part of the solution, but it needs government to have the courage to make the hard choices necessary to ensure businesses can assist while maintaining a fair market.
VIA also appreciates the government’s acknowledgement of the need to promote behaviour change; token that the acknowledgement might be. Behaviour change and education are the biggest parts of the puzzle, not the smallest; this includes combating misinformation.
Another major component that is missing from the current proposal is a powerful story. We need a vision of the future that is hopeful, not dystopian; and we need a clear path on how to get there.
The public needs to be part of the solution, not because they are the problem. Blaming the public for their current choices is unfair in a world where marketers have the capability of using the best technology, the best data, and military-grade techniques to shape public opinion on goods and services. Rather, public needs to be supportive of the goal and the effort, so government has the courage to make the hard decisions that will be necessary.