A damning report from international research firm Climate Analytics is lending substantial weight to the argument that Australia needs to improve its scorecard on clean transport.
Pollution from light passenger vehicles and heavy transport is soaring, the report shows, up 57% in 2017 since 1990 and projected to rise to 82% from 1990 levels by the end of the decade.
Cars are the worst offenders, with CO2 levels emitted by passenger vehicles increasing 25% from 1990 to 2017 and accounting for the majority of CO2 levels overall.
Heavy trucks and utes/vans combined account for an equal amount of CO2 emissions as cars, with both doubling in emissions from 1990 – 2017.
Aviation, while accounting for a much smaller proportion of CO2 emissions, increased by an incredible 235% from 1990 – 2017.
The rapidly rising levels of CO2 are due to a lack of strict fuel emissions regulations that now govern 80 per cent of light vehicles globally.
The USA, China, Japan, India and the EU have all improved fuel emissions, with the EU leading the way followed closely by India.
While the USA’s auto market is most closely compared to Australia’s in terms of segment popularity (eg “pickups” or utes, and SUVs), the USA is far ahead of Australia in terms of grams of CO2 released per kilometre.
In many key indicators considered by the report, such as transport emissions per person, EV market share and access to charging infrastructure, Australia is falling well behind other markets.
The figures, which show that if Australia is to help meet the obligations of the Paris Agreement it must work towards zero emissions transport by 2050, have elicited a call from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) for stricter fuel efficiency standards and a ban on sales of high emissions vehicles.
ACF’s Chief Executive Officer, Kelly O’Shanassy, said in a note that successive governments had dropped the ball on mandatory fuel efficiency standards, incentives to take up electric vehicles and installing charging infrastructure.
The call comes as Australia gears up for an imminent federal election, with a dire need for a purposeful climate change policy fuelling discussion on the state of electric vehicles in Australia.
“Australia has been considering mandatory climate pollution and fuel standards for years and years – but governments have fallen for reckless scare campaigns and shirked implementation.
“As a result, Australia is the only country in the OECD without mandatory climate pollution standards for cars and trucks.“Australia has also been slow to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles and has no national strategy, targets or infrastructure support.
“Countries like China, India and France have started to adopt forward thinking regimes that Australia should follow.”
Just last week the Coalition government confirmed that it would not be releasing a national electric vehicles strategy until mid next year.
The statement has sparked response from opposition party Labor which only this morning announced a new climate policy highlighting an electric vehicle strategy of 50% passenger electric vehicle sales by 2030 and 50% government electric vehicle sales by 2025.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.