Federal government to tackle transport emissions

The transport sector is on track to become Australia's largest source of carbon emissions by 2030, but the federal government is developing a plan to stem to the tide.

The National Transport and Infrastructure Net Zero Roadmap and Action Plan is billed as a "clear strategy" to reduce emissions across the transport and infrastructure sectors.

The transport sector is Australia's third largest source of transport emissions and accounted for 19% of overall emissions in 2022.

While electric vehicles are playing a bigger part in the transport mix, the improvements in tailpipe emissions are being cancelled out by a shift towards SUVs and American-style utes, which accounted for 55% of the cars sold in the first six months of 2023.

In response, transport emissions increased by 6.4% in the 12 months to March. For context, agriculture, the second-fastest growing sector, grew by 3.3%.

Just as the popularity of large cars is undoing the gains of cleaner ones, our ballooning transport emissions are undoing the gains being made through the shift to renewable energy, which saw emissions from power generation drop by only 4% in the 12 months to March.

Even if we were to replace our entire vehicle stock with electric vehicles today, private car use would still be a significant source of emissions as decarbonisation of the energy grid remains years away.

Based on its own modelling, the Climate Council this year urged Australians Australians to triple bike riding and walking to curtail carbon emissions tied to personal transport.

This is the type of wide-scale behaviour change needed to set us on a sustainable transport trajectory, and the National Transport and Infrastructure Net Zero Roadmap and Action Plan is an opportunity to take steps in the right direction.

Public consultation is planned for late 2023 and there will be a chance to make formal submissions. Public views and concerns are sought in the meantime, via a short online survey.

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