The Australian government has finally agreed to create a fuel efficiency standard to reduce pollution from new cars – which is good news for people and the planet and will mean more electric cars on our roads and fewer greenhouse gas emissions from cars.
(Learn what the fuel efficiency standard is here)
Thousands of Greenpeace supporters helped make this happen by giving their voice to our campaign: writing to the Minister for Transport, making calls to politicians and even visiting the offices of their local MPs.
But now the tricky thing: Designing a fuel-efficiency standard is crucial — if it’s too weak or has too many loopholes, it won’t have an appreciable impact on car pollution.
We know this is a real risk because the petrol car lobby suggested Australia adopt their own voluntary standard a few years ago, which would have resulted in no change to business as usual!
The gasoline car lobby will continue to push for subdued standards with holes you can drive the Hilux through.
But Greenpeace is in it – you can read what we brought to the design process below, as we make the case for a strong fuel efficiency standard that gets Australians into electric cars sooner – so we can all enjoy cleaner air, cheaper transport and the superior joy of eliminating fossil fuels from our weekly budget.
Strong fuel efficiency standards will result in cost savings for Australian families, healthier communities, quieter streets, new economic opportunities, less dependence on foreign oil and fewer harmful carbon emissions.
As such, Greenpeace Australia Pacific warmly welcomes the government’s commitment to delivering this important and long overdue policy action.
In designing these standards, Australia can and should draw on the experience of many other jurisdictions that have introduced similar standards and seen the benefits (and pitfalls) achieved. This presentation identifies the key features that have made these schemes successful – both in reducing emissions from transport and increasing consumer choice and value – and which features should be avoided.
The most important task facing the government is to set emissions reduction targets and a timeframe commensurate with the scale of the climate change challenge, and to do Australia’s fair share. Greenpeace urges the government to remain steadfast in its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050, which entails a shift to all car sales that will be electric by 2030 or 2035 at the latest. We have no time to lose, and no reason to delay further.
If there is one principle that defines our submission, it is simplicity. Design a benchmark with strong targets, linked to climate science, that catches up to other countries in the short/medium term. Avoid anything that would unnecessarily complicate the chart. Offering countless flexibilities, credits, rewards for technology, etc. only serves to undermine transparency and effectiveness. They’re unnecessary given the elegance of a well-designed fuel-efficiency benchmark with aggressive goals.
Finally, consider the everyday needs of Australians – many of whom struggle with the cost of living – when designing the scheme. This means looking at the full picture of complementary policies and tax incentives that influence car-buying decisions. This means ensuring that policies are enforced making the decision to buy a zero-emission car a real choice for those who struggle to do so – because the cost savings on fuel and maintenance will be more impactful for those families.
More importantly, it means prioritizing the interests of ordinary Australians above the auto industry’s demands for poor standards that maintain the status quo.
A strong fuel efficiency standard will deliver myriad benefits to Australian consumers and communities, and the urgency of reducing emissions.
Greenpeace makes the following recommendations regarding the design and implementation of the fuel efficiency standard:
Recommendation 1: Adopt annual targets that catch up (almost) with projected targets for the United States, the European Union, and New Zealand by 2027.
Recommendation 2: Create a path to zero emissions reductions by 2030, or 2035 at the latest, to ensure Australia meets its climate targets.
Recommendation 3: Avoid leaving the biggest emissions cuts to 2030 and set ambitious initial targets for a “quick start” to ensure adequate allocation of ZEVs by auto importers.
Recommendation 4: If dual targets are adopted, ensure that the rate of improvement for both targets occurs in tandem to prevent category shift, and both are heading towards zero by 2030 or 2035 at the latest.
Recommendation 5: Allowing credit banking over one year, trading credits between manufacturers and pooling credits.
Recommendation 6: Ensure transparent reporting on how each importer reached its target, including whether it used trade or bank balances.
Recommendation 7: Set a fine of $200 for each gram/kilometre of exceeding the target.
Recommendation 8: Impose non-monetary penalties on car importers who do not meet their targets.
Recommendation 9: Adopt a design approach for FES that explicitly seeks to reduce the market share of heavy, heavy and inefficient vehicles in the market.
Recommendation 10: Super balances should not be used in FES
Recommendation 11: If this occurs, it should be capped (in terms of emissions reductions that can be claimed), phased out quickly (ideally by the scheme’s second year of operation), and applied only to zero-emissions vehicles.
Recommendation 12: If super credits are used, they must be fully and transparently reported – it should be clear how much each car importer used the credits to reach the FES target.
Recommendation 13: Vehicle Boost Credits should not be used off-course and similar.
Recommendation 14: All data relating to a fuel efficiency standard must be within the purview of regulatory agencies – and must be made available to the public.
Recommendation 15: FES must be enacted in the calendar year 2023, to become effective January 1, 2024.
Recommendation 16: Annual targets must be set for each year from 2024 to 2030 inclusive. Objectives should be reviewed every 3 years. Targets can be increased but not decreased.
Recommendation 17Provide targeted rebates and interest-free loans to support access for low-income families. Consider other additional measures.
Recommendation 18: Adoption of Recommendation No. 13 of the Harper Review and the removal of restrictions on the import of used cars.
Recommendation 19: Update Australia’s Vehicle Type Approval requirements to allow direct acceptance of Type Approved Electric Vehicles from key global markets.
Recommendation 20: Review and remove or reset all policies that encourage shifting to heavier, more polluting vehicles.