Voluntary CO2 car emission standards are defective

Australia needs to significantly increase its number of zero emission Electric Vehicles (EV) if car manufacturers are to meet new voluntary carbon emission targets.

Dr Anna Mortimore from Griffith Business School says the voluntary CO2 Emissions Standard announced by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) sets an ambitious reduction target for manufacturers compared to current emission levels.

“­­­FCAI is pushing for a 4% reduction on average per year for passenger cars and light SUV sold between 2020 and 2030. But in 2019 the national average carbon emissions decreased by only 0.2% the smallest decrease since records started in 2002.

“Australia has really stalled in reducing its vehicle carbon emissions and the only viable way to meet its target is by significantly increasing the number of zero emission EVs on our roads.”

“Australia has really stalled in reducing its vehicle carbon emissions and the only viable way to meet its target is by significantly increasing the number of zero emission EVs on our roads.”

But without Government policy on fuel efficiency, EV infrastructure planning or even consumer incentives the plan is an endless roundabout.

Dr Mortimore co-wrote a research paper in 2018 outlining the Australian Government’s difficult history with introducing fuel efficiency standards to reduce road transport emissions.

“The Australian Government did adopt voluntary standards in consultation with FCAI up until mid-2004 and they were never met because the industry body argued consumers preferred larger cars and the local car industry could not meet the targets set.

“But we only have to look to the EU, when they switched from voluntary standards to a regulatory emissions standard in 2009 and they set a target to be achieved by 2015. Car manufacturers achieved that target two years early.”

She said if Australia is to avoid becoming a dumping ground for high emitting vehicles, automotive manufacturers need confidence the cost of bringing new products to Australia’s lagging EV market, is supported and would see greater consumer demand.

“This is where Governments play an important role, we’ve seen the European Commission advise member states to bring in policy influencing demand for EV that puts them favourably against other vehicles that cost far less.”

Dr Mortimore who is finalising the results for a consumer survey into EV ownership in Queensland, said the results align with other international surveys showing the majority of early adopters were high income earners and mainly men.

“Most of our respondents chose full battery EVs because they reduced their carbon emissions. We’re still finalising the results, but we suspect many might be Tesla owners as they shared being excited about new technology and the car they were driving.

“Our early survey results show consumer demand is definitely there for EVs in our community but the cost of ownership rather than range anxiety is a significant barrier for many.”

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