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Electric vehicles suit Australian roads, but is more needed?

vehicle electric charging station

Labor unveils transport emission reduction plan.

Federal Labor’s climate change policy in part focuses on changes to the transport sector to reach its target of cutting emissions by 45 percent by 2030, and ensure half of Australia’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2050. 

Here are some expert reactions (through the Australian Media Centre) on the EV proposal and other aspects of Labor’s commitment to reduce emissions, from economists and social scientists who are not wedded to the ‘fossil fuel is Australia’s destiny’ narrative.

“AS AN OIL importing country with no domestic car manufacturing industry, Australia is well placed to make the shift to electric vehicles proposed by Labor.

“A crucial step towards this goal will be the restructuring of the National Electricity Market, and the design of charging infrastructure to encourage flexible recharging of electric vehicles to match peaks in the availability of renewable energy.”

Professor John Quiggin, an Australian Laureate Fellow (Economics) at the University of Queensland

“LABOR’S PROPOSED ELECTRIC vehicle (EV) targets and incentives are a long overdue step in the right direction to reduce vehicle emissions.
“An Australian EV target of 50% for 2030 would be in line with other countries, such as South Korea (30% by 2025), Norway and the Netherlands (100% by 2025) and the UK and France (100% by 2040).

“It has been confirmed in several independent studies that more people die from vehicle emissions than from road accidents, so the time to act is now.

“A high uptake of EVs will improve Australia’s air quality and its general population health.

“EV targets and government incentives help, as can be seen in Europe and the US, where most countries have already 2% EVs in the general vehicle fleet, versus only 0.2% in Australia.”

Thomas Bräunl, Director of the Renewable Energy Vehicle Project at The University of Western Australia (UWA)

“THE BIGGEST OPPORTUNITY identified by Labor is its commitment to retain the cap on emissions, reduce these over time and allow trading in credits.
“This makes it possible to phase in a state-of-the-art climate-sharing scheme or, as some prefer to think of it, a state-of-the-art emissions trading scheme.”
Professor Mike Young, Centre for Global Food and Resources at the University of Adelaide

“The government’s congestion-busting plan, funding road schemes
mostly in marginal electorates, is using public funds
to reinforce a hopeless strategy”

“THE ALP CLIMATE change policy is not perfect, but it is very much better than the current government’s approach.

“It has a more ambitious overall target and eschews the creative accounting the government is relying on to disguise its failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A 45 percent reduction in emissions is, however, still not doing our share to slow global warming.

“Bringing in vehicle emissions standards and encouraging electric vehicles are very welcome changes. While there has been some political attention to electricity generation, our greenhouse gas emissions from transport are still increasing rapidly.

“The government’s so-called congestion-busting plan, funding road schemes that are mostly in marginal electorates, is using public funds to reinforce a hopeless strategy.

“No city in the world has ever solved its transport problem by building roads. The standards proposed are not radical, being in line with the US levels rather than European regulations, but they are a start.

“The crackdown on big polluters is very welcome.”

Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe AO, an Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society (School of Natural Sciences) at Griffith University
Ian was formerly President of the Australian Conservation Foundation 

“THE HYPE ABOUT autonomous and electric vehicles solving the world’s mobility problems, at the expense of public transport, is a gigantic load of nonsense.

“As a researcher in this field, my emotions tend to boil over rather easily when discussing the merits of public transport versus autonomous vehicles.

“Traffic congestion has now become a global issue, not just for environmental reasons. Car traffic brings significant impacts to communities, especially on urban liveability, including the separation of urban centres by busy roads and creating further social disadvantage.

“By 2020, traffic congestion will cost the Australian economy more than $20 billion.

“But from where is the solution to this problem going to come?

The truth is that transit systems are the only option available for shared occupancy at the volume needed and the quality provided that can meet the need of large and growing cities.”

— Professor Graham Currie, Director of Monash Infrastructure, Chair of Public Transport, Professor in Transport Engineering in the Department of Civil Engineering at Monash University

IMAGE: Mike Bird (Pexels)

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