CLEANING up transport sector emissions should be a priority if Australia is to achieve its net zero goals says the Australian auto industry’s peak body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

The body has put forward a three-point plan this week to address climate change action in the sector.

Cars, trucks and buses along with other transport vehicles significantly contribute to the effects of climate change through emissions and related issues.

Responding to the challenge posed by climate change has seen governments, businesses and communities proposing or actually taking action.

The FCAI together with other parts of the transport sector, say they have a role to play in combating climate change and reducing carbon emissions while ensuring consumer choice.

The body says a principled approach is needed.

“Working together, meaningful change and significant outcomes can be achieved,” said the FCAI in a statement issued this week.

With a Federal Government yet to legislate a decarbonising plan for the transport sector the FCAI has put forward its own three-point plan setting out how it sees action should be taken.

1. Agree on the destination.

    Set a national emissions reduction target for car-makers that reflects global standards and local needs

    The technology mix that will best enable the target to be reached will then be identified based on availability, acceleration, allocation and consumer needs

    The ultimate destination is decarbonisation, but to get there a mix of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric, hydrogen and efficient internal combustion is needed

2. Remove the roadblocks.

    Replace impediments with incentives such as public, private and fleet charging and hydrogen refuelling, free parking/charging and access to transit lanes and set government fleet procurement targets

    A policy that allows for a technology mix that reflects consumer choice, market realities and global vehicle availability is needed

    To help further decarbonisation, adopt an international standard of fuel quality

3. Go the distance.

    Australia’s vastness means more vehicles travel greater distances, more often

    Investment in the recharging network/electricity grid is needed to meet the needs of Australia’s growing fleet of decarbonised vehicles

    A lack of investment has the potential to undermine the whole system

On related environmental matters – incentivised EV sales and fuel quality – the FCAI says zero-emission vehicles, including battery electric vehicles and possibly hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, will increasingly populate our roads as they are developed by international parent companies.

“But, without government market intervention on a scale seen in other countries, it will be the mid-late 2020s before sales of these sorts of vehicles will rise beyond the current level of less than 2.0 per-cent of the national total,” said the FCAI.

While the FCAI supports the introduction of a CO2 standard relevant to the Australian market and the introduction of Euro6 exhaust emission standards, in the meantime, the poor quality of fuel sold at Australian service stations will continue to be the number one issue influencing outcomes across the board in this space.

Achieving Euro6 has several stages and is dependent on petrol meeting European standard EN228 and diesel meeting EN590. New compact cars already heading to market will simply not meet the initial stage until Australia drivers are filling their tanks with European standard fuel – in fact, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid and Mazda 3 2.0-litre petrol now sold in Australia have de-tuned engines to operate with our fuel standards.

According to the FCAI, an investment of $A1.0 billion into the four Australian refineries is required to develop world-standard fuel (95 RON, 10 parts-per-million Sulphur and 35 per-cent aromatics for petrol).

Until this is achieved, Australian new car buyers – many currently using poor quality 91 RON unleaded petrol – will not be able to purchase vehicles with the latest environmentally-friendlier engine and exhaust technology.

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