Australia unveils roadmap to boost uptake of electric vehicles

Australia has released its first national electric vehicle strategy, aimed at ensuring the country has a better choice of electric vehicles and improved affordability in a bid to boost the uptake of cleaner vehicles.

As part of the plan, the federal government will introduce a fuel efficiency standard, working with the industry to finalise details in coming months, Energy Minister Chris Bowen said.

Apart from Russia, Australia was the only developed country to either not have or be developing fuel efficiency standards, which encourage manufacturers to supply more electric and zero-emission vehicles.

Transport is the third-largest source of carbon emissions in Australia, already one of the world’s biggest emitters on a per capita basis. The initiative will help cut the country’s emissions by at least three million tonnes of carbon by 2030 and over 10 million tonnes by 2035, Bowen said.

Last year, Australia’s centre-left Labour government flagged that it had plans to introduce new regulations targeting vehicle carbon emissions to increase sales of electric cars, as it looks to catch up with other developed economies.

“Fuel-efficient and electric vehicles are cleaner and cheaper to run – today’s announcement is a win-win for motorists,” Bowen said in a statement.

On average, new cars in Australia use 40 per cent more fuel than the European Union and 20 per cent more than the US, with studies showing the introduction of a fuel efficiency standard could save motorists A$519 (£280) per year, Bowen said.

Given its geographical location, Australia is highly susceptible to the effects of climate change and the country has broadly acknowledged the need to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

In September last year, Australia’s parliament enshrined in law the government’s elevated target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent below 2005 levels by the end of this decade.

In October, the Australian and Singaporean governments signed a green trade agreement to support low-emissions finance, carbon markets and decarbonisation initiatives, which Australia touted as a world-first project that could help make the country a “renewable energy superpower”.

Underscoring the momentum carrying renewable energy in Australia, in a recent interview with E&T, Andrew Blakers, Professor of Engineering at the Australian National University, called solar power “a global juggernaut pushing fossil fuels into oblivion”.

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