There is a consensus among petrol car manufacturers, electric vehicle makers, motorists, and environmental organizations that Australia requires updated car pollution regulations.
The federal government’s consultation on a fuel-efficiency standard revealed widespread support for new laws to limit vehicle emissions, with the majority of nearly 1200 responses endorsing such legislation.
However, agreement on the specifics of these regulations is less clear. Electric car manufacturers, renewable energy firms, and environmental groups are urging swift implementation of these laws, aiming to align Australia with global progress by 2030 and close emission loopholes.
Failure to do so, they argue, will result in high fuel costs for Australian drivers, hinder access to efficient vehicles, and impede the nation’s progress toward its net-zero emissions targets.
On the other hand, some automotive companies support pollution limits but advocate for gradual implementation. They seek extra credit for importing electric cars over hybrids and for enhancing vehicle efficiency. These manufacturers warn that failing to meet these conditions could lead to higher vehicle prices and reduced availability.
The debate between these two sides is expected to continue for months as the government develops models for the laws and assesses their potential impact.
These diverse opinions on Australia’s fuel-efficiency standard were evident in hundreds of submissions released following a six-week consultation period. Once implemented, this standard will set pollution limits for new cars sold in Australia, encouraging manufacturers to balance high-pollution vehicles with low-emission models.
Similar standards are already in place in 85% of the global car market, with Australia, Russia, Indonesia, and Turkey being among the few developed nations yet to establish such limits. However, the specific standards vary from one country to another, with some targeting a transition to electric vehicles by 2035 and others offering incentives for importing electric cars or using environmentally friendly refrigerants in air conditioning systems.
Well-known automakers like Toyota and Mazda, along with motoring and vehicle lobby groups, argue for similar credits in Australia’s standard and gradual introduction of pollution caps to provide time for adjustment.
However, groups such as the Electric Vehicle Council, Australian Electric Vehicle Association, and Greenpeace assert that Australia has already delayed action for too long and advocate for a swift and robust standard.
The Electric Vehicle Council suggests a slow start should only be considered if the standard is introduced next year, and it should only offer “super credits” in exchange for substantial emission reductions.
Climate Council advocacy head Jennifer Rayner argues that Australia needs a strong emission limit with limited credits introduced promptly, citing evidence from other countries that such policies can lead to more affordable and available electric vehicles.
Experts like Swinburne University’s Professor Hussein Dia emphasize the need for rapid change to achieve climate targets, despite anticipated pressure from the car industry on the standard’s provisions and timing.