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Federal government announces national EV strategy
$3.5b Climate Solutions Package to help establish solution to Aus EV introduction
25 Feb 2019
THE Australian federal government has today outlined a plan to develop a national electric vehicle (EV) strategy as part of a $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package announced by prime minister Scott Morrison.
A further $2 billion will be added to the Climate Solutions Fund, which continues the work of the Emissions Reduction Fund, that has reduced emissions by 193 million tonnes since 2014.
While the Climate Solutions Package contains a number of different emissions-reduction initiatives, the national electric vehicle strategy is solely concerned with facilitating an increase in the sale of electric vehicles, which made up just 0.12 per cent of total new vehicle sales in 2018.
According to the federal government, the national EV strategy will “coordinate action across governments, industry and urban and regional communities, and will include considering whether mandating an electric-vehicle plug type could improve the consistency of public charging”.
At the start of the month, peak local industry bodies welcomed the recommendations handed down by the Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles, which called on the federal government to implement a national strategy to facilitate and accelerate sales of EVs in Australia.
The Coalition government also plans to improve the quality of fuel sold in Australia, which will in turn help produce more fuel-efficient vehicles and ensure the country has access to the latest vehicles – a point that has been previously campaigned for by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).
While concrete details on the strategy are still hard to come by, the government estimates its plan will help reduce emissions from vehicles by up to 10 million tonnes by 2030, to help it achieve its carbon-emissions reduction goal set out in the Paris climate agreements.
However, there are no plans as yet for concrete vehicle CO2 emission targets – a scheme that has been advocated by peak industry bodies in the past.
The strategy will build on grants from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and work done by the COAG Transport and Infrastructure Council.
While indicating the intention to facilitate an infrastructure network, the national EV strategy falls short of the recommendations put out by Infrastructure Australia, which listed a national EV recharging network as a “high-priority” initiative going forward.
Prime minister Scott Morrison said the package will help improve Australia’s emissions without hampering the national economy.
“We will meet our global commitments and do what is right for our environment without taking a wrecking ball to the economy,” he said.
“We have an obligation to preserve the environment for our children. We also have an obligation to hand over a strong economy, where our kids and grandkids can get jobs.
“We will meet our commitments in practical ways by working with land holders, farmers, businesses and indigenous communities.
“There will be further announcements ahead, but as part of the $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package, we will invest a further $2 billion in the Climate Solutions Fund.”
The announcement was met with disappointment from the Electric Vehicle Council, who called the plan “underwhelming” and urged for a more comprehensive and immediate solution to help the proliferation of EVs.
“Now, on the eve of a federal election, we hear the government committing to nothing more than the creation of a plan about a plan. It’s underwhelming to say the least,” Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said.
“Australia’s action on electric vehicles needs far more urgency, because our flat-footedness to date has seen us slip several steps behind the world. As things stand, we are becoming a dumping ground for the world’s dirtiest vehicles; vehicles that can’t be sold anywhere else.
“The Electric Vehicle Council will continue to work constructively and cooperatively with government – that is our purpose. But we will be emphasising that we already know the steps that need to be taken. The international precedent exists, and we need to be getting on with it now.
“Imagine if our federal government had dragged its heels like this when horse and buggies were being made redundant last century. We wouldn’t have any highways.
“We urge the federal government, and indeed the alternate government, to recognise the potential of electric vehicles and outline plans to move decisively to a cleaner transport future.”
Further details of the Climate Solutions Package will be revealed in time as it works towards achieving emissions reductions laid out in the Kyoto (2020) and Paris (2030) climate agreements.
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