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CO2 emissions down more than expected

Pipe dream: Australia's cars are making headway in cutting greenhouse gases.

Australia’s new-vehicle industry reaches its emissions target two years early

24 Nov 2009

THE first detailed report on emissions data for new light vehicles sold in Australia has revealed a number of notable facts, headlined by a 12 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions in the past six years.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) says the result, revealed this week by the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) ‘Carbon Emissions from New Australian Vehicles’ report, shows the new-car industry is ahead of its own airborne pollution target.

In fact, the national average carbon emissions from new passenger and light commercial vehicles in 2008 was 222 grams of CO2 per kilometre – 12 per cent less than in 2002 and the same level due to be achieved by 2010.

“The report confirms the industry is ahead of schedule in meeting the existing target of 222 grams of CO2 per kilometre by 2010,” said FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar on Monday (November 23).

“The industry has achieved a 12 per cent reduction in emissions in six years but the work has not stopped and new technology is being continuously rolled out to further improve this result.

“This study provides a valuable snapshot of new vehicle emissions and will be a useful input as the industry and government consider future strategies for continued progress.”

 center imageLeft: FCAI CEO Andrew McKellar.

Commissioned at the request of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), the report was complied using new-vehicle statistics from the FCAI’s VFACTS database.

However, Mr McKellar cautioned against legislative pressure to further reduce Australia’s average new-vehicle emissions – as COAG is believed to be considering, in the form of a mandatory fuel consumption standard – in the absence of investigating ways to reduce the CO2 output of the nation’s total vehicle fleet.

“It is important to remember that any move to significantly reduce real-life vehicle emissions must also look at the existing vehicle fleet, road congestion and public transport,” he said.

Other key findings of the NTC report include the revelation that national average emissions would be reduced by more than one-third (34 per cent) at 146g/km if new vehicle buyers opted for the most fuel-efficient model in their class.

“The data in this paper reveals that if all new vehicle purchasers bought the lowest emission car available in that class, national average emissions could be cut by a third,” said the NTC’s general manager for safety and environment, Tim Eaton.

“Light vehicle carbon emissions account for 10 per cent of emissions in Australia and reducing these is going to be an important part of the nation’s response to climate change.

“This highlights an important opportunity for industry, governments and the community to make better decisions around light vehicle purchasing and develop policy responses to this challenge.”

The NTC also found that in 2008, Australia’s carbon emissions from new passenger vehicles were 41 per cent higher than in the European Union (215g/km compared to 153g/km).

In 2007, CO2 emissions from new light commercial vehicles in Australia were 27 per cent higher than in the European Union – 258g/km versus 203g/km.

Using the Swedish government's ‘green’ car definition as a vehicle that does not exceed 120g/km, just 0.6 cent of total car sales in Australia were ‘green’ in 2008 – compared with 11 per cent in the UK.

Last year, private Australian car buyers had the lowest average vehicle emissions (210g/km), followed by business buyers (233g/km) and then government buyers (238g/km).

The same year in Australia saw Smart produce the lowest average emissions (113g/km) and Ferrari emit the most (443g/km), while of the 15 manufacturers that annually sell 95 per cent of new vehicles in Australia Hyundai had the lowest average emissions (177g/km) but Holden had the highest average emissions (252g/km).

The average emissions from Australian-made vehicles in 2008 was 267g/km – a reduction of only four per cent over 2005 levels.

According to the NTC: “Governments are currently considering policy responses to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions, (and) this data will provide an important input into further policy development around light vehicle emissions.”

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