Photography: Bianca de Marchi/AAP
Australia’s long-awaited National Electric Vehicle Strategy is due to be released this week, finally detailing the introduction of pollution standards that should accelerate the uptake of electric cars.
Industry sources say Federal Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen will release the strategy ahead of an event in western Sydney on Wednesday.
“We expect something quite ambitious,” said one of those informed.
Bowen’s office declined to confirm the timing or details of the strategy, saying only that it “will launch soon.” The plans “will provide a comprehensive and consistent nationwide framework for examining supply, demand and infrastructure needs for cleaner and more economical vehicles,” a spokesman said.
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Australia is the only OECD nation that does not have, or is in the process of developing, fuel efficiency standards. Bowen said last August that Australian consumers could choose from just eight low-emission vehicles under $60,000, compared to 26 available in the UK.
Momentum has only picked up internationally since then, with the United States becoming the latest country to report much stricter emissions standards. Under proposed changes by the US Environmental Protection Agency unveiled this week, the share of EVs in the world’s second-largest auto market could rise from about 6% last year to 66% by 2032.
“Motor vehicle emissions contribute ozone, particulate matter and air toxins, which are linked to premature death and other serious health impacts, including respiratory disease, cardiovascular problems and cancer,” the EPA said. US, explaining the need for new standards.
“Furthermore, there is consensus that the effects of climate change pose a rapidly growing threat to human health and the environment…caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, including the transport of motor vehicles “.
Asked whether Australia could catch up on EV sales of two out of three purchases, Bowen said he believes “Australia can catch up with the rest of the world.”
“You look at the UK, the US, other countries are way ahead of Australia’s EV sales,” he said on Thursday.
“This is partly a supply issue because we don’t require low emission vehicles to be sent to Australia because we don’t have fuel efficiency standards,” Bowen said. “Part of it is because the previous government rejected electric vehicles.
“Sales of battery electric vehicles are 2.5 times higher in the first quarter of this year [the same time] last year,” he said.
The government said it had received more than 500 contributions to the strategy consultation document. They represent more than 1,500 individuals and more than 200 organizations.
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Industry groups like the Electric Vehicle Council have warned that Australia’s status “as the world’s dumping ground for older, high-emitting vehicles will be cemented if the Albanian government doesn’t move quickly to catch up with new fuel efficiency standards.” as announced by the Biden administration this week.
“This shift in stance from the United States has huge consequences for Australia,” the council’s chief executive, Behyad Jafari, said in a statement.
“Automakers will now compete to meet stricter standards set in the US, Europe, China and even New Zealand.
“We know the federal government is slowly working on a new EV policy,” Jafari said. “This move in the US means the buzzer has gone off. The time for talking is over, we know what actions we need to take, so let’s introduce solid new fuel efficiency standards now.
“The United States first introduced fuel efficiency standards in the 1970s and has tightened them ever since,” Jafari said. “In 2023, Australia has a discussion paper on them. It’s ridiculous.”
Industry insiders also expressed concern that the strategy, once announced, will require further public feedback, with the result that changes to emissions standards will not start until next year.