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Australian CO2 tailpipe emissions fall
National CO2 average falls 2.7 per cent in 2010 as new mandatory targets draw near
22 Feb 2011
By TERRY MARTIN
CARBON dioxide tailpipe emissions from new vehicles on sale in Australia are continuing to fall, with the latest National Average Carbon Emissions (NACE) figures released this week placing the industry-wide average CO2 figure for light vehicles at 213 grams per kilometre in 2010.
As the federal government prepares to release a discussion paper for a new mandatory 2015 CO2 target, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has revealed that the average CO2 emissions of passenger cars was down 2.5 per cent last year to 192.5g/km, while SUVs fell 3.35 per cent to 238g/km and light commercial vehicles dropped 1.1 per cent to 250g/km.
The overall NACE figure of 212.6g/km, which simply represents the average grams of CO2 per kilometre for all new cars, SUVs, utes and vans sold in Australia, was down 2.7 per cent from 218.5g/km in 2009 and is well below the voluntary target of 222g/km set for 2010 five years earlier.
In part, it reflects buyer trends toward smaller vehicles and the increasing popularity of diesel-powered models.
It also reflects the introduction of Euro 4 emissions regulations that came into force on July 1 last year and brought improvements to locally manufactured cars, as well as the move in Europe to tougher Euro 5 emissions late in 2009, which in turn has brought upgrades to imported vehicles.
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However, Australia remains well behind Europe, where the EU is phasing in a 130g/km limit for passenger cars by 2012 (with conditions) – and has set a limit of 95g/km by 2020.
Last year, average CO2 emissions for passenger cars in the UK were down to 144.2g/km – 48.3 grams ahead of Australia.
FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar told GoAuto this week that the 2010 NACE result was a significant achievement and reflected the continuing uptake of economical powertrains, particularly diesels.
“Anything over two per cent (drop) is a pretty significant change in one year so I think it’s a very good result,” he said.
Mr McKellar rejected the suggestion that Australia’s rate of progress in lowering CO2 emissions was slow compared to Europe, noting aspects such as a deep-rooted preference for petrol fuel here and limited availability of diesel, and predicted that reductions would continue – and deepen – in the years ahead.
Prime minister Julia Gillard promised a new mandatory CO2 standard during last year’s election campaign, quoting a 190g/km national average from 2015 and a further reduction to 155g/km by 2024.
However, she refused to commit to these targets, which were based on a draft regulation impact statement and, in the case of the 2015 target, according to Mr McKellar, reflected “the independent umpire’s view of what was a realistic and achievable, but nonetheless challenging, target in the Australian context”.
As GoAuto has reported, the federal government has since abandoned a number of eco-oriented vehicle programs, including the proposed vehicle scrappage scheme and the Green Car Innovation Fund (GCIF).
As well as supporting the local car industry, all of these measures were designed to reduce CO2 tailpipe emissions.
Transport minister Anthony Albanese was this week unavailable for comment on the proposed new CO2 regulations, as well as its proposed timetable for tougher Euro 5 and Euro 6 emissions standards – initially set at 2012 and 2016 respectively, but which has been under review after the industry warned of implications such as the viability of Australian engine plants.
Mr McKellar said he expected the government to shortly release a discussion paper canvassing how it proposes to proceed in addressing its CO2 election commitments.
“We’ve obviously had a number of discussions with the minister’s office and the department, but we need to see the detail,” he said.
“One of the most important points that we’ve outlined in those discussions is that the key issue to be resolved is to examine the mechanism that would be adopted to allocate any target across all the brands.
“Whether that is a uniform percentage reduction, whether it is based on a weight-based formula, or whether it’s on a footprint-based formula, those are the sort of key questions – the key analysis that has to be undertaken – to ensure that we understand what the impact is going to be down to the individual brand level.
“The reality is that there’s no perfect formula. Each of the approaches that has been used elsewhere in the world has its advantages and disadvantages, so there’s no one approach that is, I think, without flaw. But it is important to understand just how the impact will be spread across individual brands.
“Obviously, the impact on local manufacturers is one thing. But I think we have to ensure that there is a fair approach across the entire industry.”
Mr McKellar said dividing the CO2 targets between passenger cars and LCVs, as is the case in Europe, was “feasible, and that’s something that really has to be part of the analysis”.
He also said the scrapping of the GCIF and the so-called ‘Cleaner Car Rebate’ scheme “does change the context somewhat” of the industry’s response to the government’s proposed new CO2 standard, as well as to its carbon pricing mandate.
“Certainly the Green Car Innovation Fund was a program that was enabling local manufacturers to really gear up and to support them and assist them in competitively putting in place the necessary investments for a range of lower-emissions technologies, so there’s no doubt that does have an impact and that needs to be taken into account,” he said.
Australia’s NACE figure has decreased steadily over the past eight years. In 2002, the CO2 average was 252.4g/km, dropping to 249.5, 246.5 and 244.7 over the following three years.
As emissions regulations tightened and changes were made to Australian Design Rules, CO2 emissions continued to fall, with the NACE figure down to 230.3g/km in 2006, then to 226.1 in 2007, 222.4 in 2008 and 128.5 in 2009.
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