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Better fuel and engines in bid to lower emissions

Fuel for thought: The Australian government is proposing changes to vehicle standards to lower emissions which could see more frugal engines and higher fuel grades introduced.

Government opens consultation with industry experts to reduce vehicle emissions

General News logo22 Dec 2016

By TUNG NGUYEN

THE Australian federal government has this week opened talks with industry experts and consumers on a proposal to lower vehicle emissions by bringing in more fuel efficient engines, offering higher-grade fuels and upping air pollution standards.

According to the government, “the draft proposals are designed to keep Australia in line with international markets – and keep us enjoying some of the cleanest air in the world” and will be overseen by the minister for the environment and energy Josh Frydenberg and the minister for urban infrastructure Paul Fletcher.

Under consideration will be an increase in Australia’s fuel efficiency standards that would force car-makers to import vehicles with less thirsty engines – similar to measures imposed by other countries.

According to the report, similar measures could cut $28 billion in fuel spending by 2040 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 65 million tonnes by 2030, based on studies of other global restrictions.

Higher quality fuel is another alternative that might be introduced, enabled by the expiry of the current fuel standards in two years. If feasible Australia could ditch the base unleaded 91 RON petrol for something with a higher octane rating or explore a wider range of ethanol-blended fuels.

Another option is to introduce stricter emissions standards for passenger and commercial vehicles in line with Europe and the US, as well as other countries, and could see $4.2 billion saved in healthcare costs by 2040.

Although the government has just opened discussions, some car-makers have previously called for possible changes to emissions regulation, while many other automotive authorities are already throwing their support behind the recent proposed changes.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) chief executive Tony Weber said a holistic approach should be taken to introducing any change local automotive standards.

“The key to achieving the best possible outcome is an integrated approach, and a key plank of this approach is giving consumers genuine, hip-pocket incentives to change their car-buying preferences,” he said.

“To effectively introduce a range of low-emissions vehicles, it is important the industry and government work together to provide the appropriate infrastructure.

“In countries such as Japan, government-led consumer incentives and infrastructure investment played significant roles in the uptake of vehicles with these technologies.”

Mr Weber also warned Australia should not lean too heavily on overseas vehicle standards.

“Australia is not the same driving or market environment as Europe or the United States. We have our own driving needs and our particular consumer requirements,” he said.

“Australian consumers want choice, and they also want access to affordable, low emission, new technology vehicles. The challenge ahead for government and industry is to find a solution which works for our specific market.”

The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) also backed the governments proposed plans.

“AAA supports efforts to reduce vehicle emissions, however, neither consumers, nor the environment, benefit from symbolic regulation that drives up costs for consumers, while delivering emissions abatement only in a laboratory,” it said.

“Australia’s motoring clubs will continue to encourage the government to base its decision upon real-world data.”

The government will be accepting submissions on its proposals up until March 10, 2017.

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