"Exciting news! After years of promises and reports recommending swift action,
Australia’s national electric vehicle policy … remains a plan to eventually
have a policy.
That’s not entirely fair. The Albanese government has committed to introduce a
vehicle fuel-efficiency standard – an important step that could belatedly put
the country on a path to dealing with runaway carbon dioxide emissions from
transport. It should significantly boost the lacklustre range of affordable EVs
on the market.
The former Coalition government couldn’t bring itself to do this despite advice
in 2016 that the net benefit of a fuel-efficiency standard could be about $14bn
by 2040. Josh Frydenberg was a supporter, comparing the inevitable rise of EVs
to the iPhone, but that language was famously dropped in favour of an
aggressively dishonest “end the weekend” campaign. It means the country is
still barely out of the starting gate.
Wednesday’s announcement does push us forward but not far. We already knew this
was where Labor was headed. The climate change minister, Chris Bowen, told an
EV summit in August that the government had invited the states and territories
to work together on a plan and suggested it was likely to include a
fuel-efficiency standard. Eight months later we have a strategy that confirms
that position and promises more consultation.
The policy development will be led from here by the transport minister,
Catherine King, who has not been as publicly forward-leaning on the issue as
Bowen. It does not include a preferred design or commit to a timeframe, though
King says her preference is to have legislation passed this year. There are no
new financial incentives beyond the cuts to fringe benefits tax introduced last
year, and there is no target for how quickly EVs will be adopted.
Unlike dozens of other countries, the government has not set a date by which
new petrol and diesel cars will no longer be able to be sold. The ministers
instead emphasised the need to give drivers greater choice.
The end point for new fossil fuel vehicles should become clearer once the
fuel-efficiency standard has been designed. A standard sets an emissions target
for manufacturers, averaged across all new cars sold and measured in grams of
CO2 released per kilometre. The idea is the target would be gradually reduced
It is an understatement to say fuel-efficiency standards are not a novel idea.
They are applied across more than 80% of the global light vehicle market. As
the ministers pointed out, Australia sits alongside Russia as one of only two
developed countries that do not have them."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics