Australians’ cars are pumping out almost 50 per cent more carbon dioxide than those in Europe, a report issued yesterday shows.
The report by the National Transport Commission shows the average carbon dioxide emissions of new Australian passenger cars was 198g/km last year, compared with just 136.1g/km in Europe - a 45 per cent difference. The Australian figures exclude light commercial vehicles (a popular segment that includes utes and vans), which emitted 245g/km in 2011; bringing the combined Australian fleet average to 206.6g/km.
The report highlighted a number of reasons Australia lags Europe in reducing car-related emissions including Europe’s higher taxes on petrol prices, but lower taxes on diesel; official carbon dioxide targets for manufacturers; excise duties that encourage motorists to choose low-emission vehicles and financial incentives to consumers for buying low-emissions cars.
The report also found government agencies typically drove less fuel-efficient cars than the general public.
The average emissions of the government new-car fleet in 2011 were 217g/km, while private users’ average emissions were 198g/km.
Although he did not directly call for government action, Commissioner Frank Muller said it was important for all new car buyers, including governments, to take CO2 emissions into account when buying a new car.
”Industry, consumers and governments all have an important role to play in helping Australia reduce its emissions,” Mr Muller said.
”If Australians had made greener purchasing decisions in 2011, carbon emissions from new cars and light commercial vehicles could have been cut by over a third.”
But Australian Greens Party deputy leader, Christine Milne, has said the time has come for federal government to get tougher on emissions.
”The EU is aiming for standards of 95g of CO2 per kilometre by 2020, and the USA is likely to aim for similarly ambitious targets,” Senator Milne said.
Senator Milne has called for the government to consider grants to manufacturers that make fuel efficiency gains.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, which represents the car industry, defended the report’s findings and put the onus on consumers to cut emissions.
”It is the preferences of Australian car buyers, however, that ultimately will determine the fleet’s CO2 profile,” Mr Chalmers said.
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