Climate Summit for Local Government

Sept 6-8, 2023 | Melbourne

Professor Will Steffen talks about the need for visionary urban transport policy to drive down car pollution.

Australians love our cars – and we love driving them. But this love affair with petrol-driven transport is taking a toll on our climate.

Australia-wide, the transport sector is the second largest source of greenhouse gas pollution. Cars are responsible for the lion’s share of these emissions, with Australia’s cars emitting about the same amount of greenhouse pollution as Queensland’s entire electricity supply.

While there has been reluctance to seriously tackle transport pollution at Federal level, local governments are emerging as the champions of Australia’s growing sustainable transport movement.

The ACT has established itself as a leader in Australia’s renewable energy race – having already locked in contracts to reach 100% renewable energy by 2020 – so it’s fitting that Australia’s capital  should be a leader in seriously tackling one of the major sources of urban greenhouse gas pollution – transport.

ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury’s announcement of an increased budget to install a comprehensive charging network for electric vehicles throughout the Territory shows a continuing commitment to tackling transport emissions.

This sits alongside the ACT’s recently announced push to increase EV uptake in the region, and its existing support for renewable-powered public transport like Canberra’s light rail system and trial electric bus fleet.

But for electric vehicles to move into the mainstream in Australia, the development of necessary infrastructure to support them needs to extend beyond Canberra.

Internationally, it’s been shown that the creation of regional EV “hubs”, including charging infrastructure networks, community education and introduction of electric vehicles into corporate fleets, public transport and local markets, has been key to increasing uptake.

Co-operation between the ACT and regional partners, as well as manufacturers and motoring bodies such as the NRMA, will be crucial to ensuring the spread of electric vehicles through regional Australia.