A major Australian motoring body is calling for a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars as early as 2025.
The NRMA says Australia is lagging so far behind the rest of the world in adopting low-emissions vehicles that a ban on the sale of new internal combustion engines should happen within the next decade.
The UK and France have already announced plans to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, and other countries including Germany and China have indicate they intend to follow a similar path.
NRMA CEO Rohan Lund told Four Corners Australia has a lot of catching up to do.
“So if anything, our targets here need to be a bit more aggressive than what we’re seeing in other markets,” he said.
“I would expect to start seeing targets that are between 2025, 2030 for banning [the sale of new] petrol-driven cars in this country.
“We don’t manufacture cars here — we’re recipients of the cars coming from Europe and from Asia.
“I think in many ways we won’t have a choice in this country.”
Car manufacturer Volvo said it will stop designing all combustion engine-only cars from this year. Volkswagen said it plans to build electric versions of its 300 models by 2030.
There are only 7,300 electric cars on Australian roads and according to the industry, they make up about 0.2 per cent of annual new car sales.
Reducing transport emissions
Transport contributes to about 19 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions and those emissions have been rising for decades. About half of these emissions come from cars.
Australia has committed to reducing its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 26 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030 under the Paris Agreement.
Dr Rebecca Michael, head of public policy for Queensland motoring body RACQ, said the transport sector needed to play a role in meeting the Paris Agreement goals but clear government policy was needed to drive that effort.
“When we look at Paris, the Government hasn’t set what emissions reductions are for transport,” she said.
“There is an unspoken imperative that we need to do more, but what does that look like?
“The Government needs to put certainty on those [Paris] targets — we’ve signed up to an agreement and we’ve gone silent.
“Doing nothing is not an option, we are not going to get there by accident.”
Calls for emissions standards
Apart from the NRMA, other Australian motoring bodies have said that much more needs to be done to transition to zero-emissions cars, but they have stopped short of calling for a ban on petrol and diesel engines.
The RACQ said discussion about the long-term future of internal combustion engines in Australia was premature.
Dr Michael said Government should first tackle more immediate measures, including introducing a fuel efficiency standard to get more lower-emissions cars onto Australian roads.
A fuel efficiency standard essentially forces manufacturers to sell a larger number of fuel-efficient cars.
These standards are in place in parts of Europe, the US and a number of Asian countries. As a result, cars in these countries are more fuel efficient than cars in Australia.
Dr Michael also said the Government needed to work out how road user charging — the various taxes that motorists pay — would apply to zero-emissions cars. These taxes currently raise billions of dollars in revenue for the Federal Government.
“Government has to show some leadership on how low-emission cars are integrated into road-user charging and at the moment there is an abject lack of that,” she said.
RAC Western Australia executive general manager Patrick Walker agreed, saying the Government should take more immediate steps, like introducing a fuel efficiency standard, before setting a ban date.
“We are not against a long-term target but the risk in our democratic process is that long-term targets don’t get the attention,” he said.
“Even the longest journey beings with a single step — you have to change something today if you want change in five or 10 years’ time.”
Extracted from ABC