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Labor backs mandatory CO2 cuts

No free plug: The Labor Party will go to the federal election with a policy for mandatory vehicle CO2 emissions standards and “encouragement” for low-emissions vehicles such as Tesla’s Model S – but no federal tax incentives to cut the cost of electric cars.

40 per cent CO2 reduction target set by Labor under mandatory car emissions policy

28 Apr 2016

THE Australian motor industry has cautiously welcomed the federal Labor party’s newly announced vehicle emissions policy that commits to mandatory light vehicle standards to cut average carbon-dioxide emissions.

The standards – which have not been spelled out – would be phased in from 2018 to reduce average light vehicle CO2 emissions from the current 184 grams per kilometre to 105g/km by the middle of next decade – a cut of 40 per cent.

While the technology to achieve these levels is estimated to cost $1500 a car by 2025, fuel savings are estimated to be $8500 over the life of a vehicle.

The federal opposition has also promised to promote and encourage sales of low-emissions vehicles if it wins government at this year’s federal election.

The Labor policy, which is largely based on advice from the Climate Change Authority (CCA), would bring Australia roughly in line with United States CO2 emissions standards, rather than the more stringent targets of Europe.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) chief executive Tony Weber said his organisation supported mandatory light vehicle fuel efficiency standards.

“We think that standard needs to be realistic and achievable, and we will work with the government of the day to get to that position,” he said.

“We need a whole-of-government approach. It is not just about reducing the CO2 of vehicles.”

Mr Weber said items that should be on the agenda included fuel quality standards, Australians’ desire for larger and more powerful car engines and automatic transmissions, ways to reduce city congestion and incentives to encourage low-emissions vehicles such as electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars.

He described Labor’s commitment to low-emissions vehicles as promising.

80 center imageLeft: FCAI chief executive Tony Weber.

“But you need to look at the package in its entirety, and we need to work with the government to get an entire package that actually works for Australians and works for the policy environment and framework we have in place rather than picking up bits and pieces from other countries,” he said.

Under the Labor approach, a Shorten government would work with state governments to provide incentives such as “registration fee holidays” for low-emissions vehicles.

It says it would also accelerate the development of standards to harmonise charging stations and billing methods, reduce barriers to electric vehicle charging in homes and co-ordinate efforts with state governments, councils, and the private sector to “roll out required infrastructure”.

However, there was no commitment to federal tax incentives to encourage the take-up of such vehicles.

Until now, Australia has relied on voluntary measures by motor companies to improve fuel economy and thus curb CO2 emissions from vehicles.

As GoAuto has reported, the National Average Carbon Emissions (NACE) last year was 184g/km, down from 252g/km in 2002.

In its policy document, Labor incorrectly stated that the current light vehicles emission average was 192g/km, which is two-year-old data.

According to Labor, Australia has lagged behind other countries in setting mandatory vehicle emissions standards.

But while Labor says it would phase in mandatory vehicle CO2 standards from 2018, the FCAI’s stated preference is for a mandated 2030 CO2 target under a program starting in 2020.

“FCAI member brands will require up to 60 months to make significant changes to products offered for sale,” the FCAI says. “Therefore, a lead-in period of up to five years with CO2 reductions at current trends will be required.”

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