Climate Council’s plan to halve transport pollution

Transport is Australia’s fastest growing source of emissions, but a new Climate Council report has laid out a clear plan to stem the tide and put the country on track for a sustainable future.

Along with public transport and electric vehicles, bikes have an important role to play.

The Climate Council’s Seize the Decade report is a comprehensive roadmap to cut Australia’s climate pollution by 75% this decade. It recommends a suite of measures across energy production, manufacturing, construction, land use and agriculture.

When it comes to transport, the report offers achievable steps to halve the sector’s climate pollution by 2030.

Our transport system features a very high proportion of private cars moving a single person at a time. Millions of car trips in our capital cities each day are under 2km, while active transport accounts for just 4% of passenger transport around the country.

As a result, transport will generate 102 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2024, 22% of the nation’s total emissions. This is a 24% increase since 2005.

According to the Climate Council, this can be halved to 45.3 Mt of CO2e by 2030 through a shift toward electric vehicles, public transport and by converting the kilometres travelled by car to shared and active transport at a rate of around 5% a year.

Among its measures to facilitate this shift, the Seize the Decade report recommends:

  • Governments encourage Australians to switch their second vehicle for an e-bike through cash payments or other incentives.
  • The federal government makes mode shift a priority in its Net Zero Transport Roadmap and Action Plan, which is currently under development.
  • Making priority infrastructure for shared and active transport a requirement for all road project proposals submitted for federal funding.
  • State governments develop and fund explicit plans that prioritise shared and active transport for repeated sub-5km trips in Australian cities, such as school drop-offs and grocery shopping.
  • State governments make cities more compact with higher density housing in established suburbs to encourage walking and bike riding.
  • Australia follow international best practice by implementing 30km/h speed limits in residential neighbourhoods.
  • Establish shared transport zones in congested city centres that only permit shared vehicles like trams, trains, buses and rideshare services.

Together with its recommendations for other sectors, these steps could reduce Australia’s overall emissions from 458 Mt of CO2e in 2024 to just 154 Mt of CO2e by 2030.

“Australians who live in our cities should have the choice to leave the car at home because they have access to great shared and active transport options,” says Climate Council Head of Policy and Advocacy, Dr Jennifer Rayner.

“Walking, riding, using electrified public transport and other shared options more often can see us make huge and rapid cuts to climate and air pollution this decade. It’s also great for cutting congestion and travel costs, while making our streets safer and more enjoyable to spend time on.”

You can access the full Seize the Decade report here.

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