As we revealed last week, transport pollution in Australia is soaring but despite the absence of any federal government measures to limit that pollution there is a way – local councils are stepping up with innovative measures to make our air cleaner.
A report released on Monday by Cities Power Partnership (CPP), Australia’s largest local government climate network, shows that local councils can – and must – be a driving force in reducing transport pollution.
Examples of successful schemes already up and running include solar electric buses in Adelaide as part of the city’s transport network.
Since last year Precision Buses has designed, engineered and built the buses in Adelaide and they’ve just signed a deal for 50 more to be used in New South Wales Queensland and Victoria. This will increase employees at the factory from 29 to 79.
The ACT Government is on track to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2020, and has a target to reach net zero emissions before 2050.
With transport a key source of greenhouse gas pollution in the ACT, the Government has released an action plan to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas pollution from vehicles as well as encouraging people to walk, cycle and use public transport instead of driving.
And it’s not just talk – the ACT Government already runs 17 electric vehicles, seven plug-in hybrid vehicles, 62 hybrid vehicles and eight electric bikes.
The capital state is also trialing battery electric buses on routes across Canberra, is looking into hydrogen vehicles and encouraging the rollout of public charging points for electric cars.
All newly leased ACT Government vehicles will be zero emissions from 2020-21 and incentives are being created for zero emissions vehicles such as parking priority and ability to drive in transit lanes.
Meanwhile, in Melbourne, Victoria’s tram network – one of the largest in the world with 200 million boardings every year – will soon be powered by 100% renewable energy, with the construction of 138MW of solar capacity by the end of 2018. The Bannerton and Numurkah solar farms in northern Victoria are being built after winning a Victoria government tender in 2017.
CPP has released a series of recommendations for local councils to slash transport pollution and congestion in towns and cities, along the lines of the successful schemes already operating.
- Develop a climate and transport policy and action plan.
- Set council and community targets for zero emissions, fossil fuel free transport well before 2050.
- Set council and community targets targets for public transport use, cycling and walking.
- Introduce electric vehicle or greenhouse gas emissions targets for council fleet vehicles (including cars, buses, garbage trucks and electric bicycles).
- Encourage sustainable transport use by local government staff and for access to local government facilities and events. For example, providing low emissions fleet vehicles, public transport passes, improved cycling and walking facilities and providing information on sustainable transport options.
- Provide for adequate cycle lanes (both space and connectivity) and provide bicycle parking and end-of-ride facilities (covered, secure bike storage, showers, bicycle maintenance and incentives). Encourage building owners and operators to provide end-of-trip facilities such as bicycle parking and change rooms.
- Provide for adequate pedestrian infrastructure. Particularly through improving access to local activities, employment and education centres and public transport stops. Ensure walking journeys and crossings within and around developments are safe, convenient and attractive.
- Provide fast-charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (powered by 100% renewable energy) throughout the local government area at key locations for electric vehicles.
- Consider programs and incentives to encourage active travel and public transport and encourage greater participation in walking, riding and public transport.
- Consider disincentives for car use. For example, re-allocating road space to pedestrians and cyclists, congestion pricing, tiered payments for residential parking, and reducing or removing minimum car parking requirements for new housing and commercial developments where suitable public transport alternatives exist.
- Support and educate the community about sustainable transport options – for example through supporting ride-to-work, and ride or walk to school initiatives.
Tony Bosworth writes for www.TheDriven.io and RenewEconomy.com.au. He has 35 years experience in journalism, and has been instrumental in launching and editing several automotive magazines including Which Car? magazine in the UK.