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Australia to set fuel efficiency standards after decades of debate

By AFP

February 4, 2024 02:55 PM


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Australia unveiled plans on Sunday to set mandatory fuel efficiency standards, matching long-existing rules in other advanced economies in a bid to get high-polluting gas guzzlers off the road.

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said a "New Vehicle Efficiency Standard" would be introduced by 2025, ending decades of footdragging and debate about the policy.

"The United States has had a similar policy in place for fifty years," Bowen said. "Australia still stands alongside Russia as one of the only advanced economies without the Standard."

"This is costing families and businesses thousands of dollars at the petrol pump," he said.

Australia currently has no mandatory fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles.

In a 2022 study, the Australia Institute think tank suggested that the lack of an efficiency standard was costing the country billions of dollars on fuel, and meant vehicles were 30 percent more polluting than vehicles in the United States.

Advocates have blamed climate-sceptic governments, as well as lobbying from oil refiners and car dealerships for repeatedly scuppering reforms.

"By giving Australians better choice of cleaner, cheaper-to-run cars, a strong fuel efficiency standard will cut household costs and clean up our air," said Amanda McKenzie, chief executive of the Australian environmental lobby group the Climate Council.

They hope the new fuel standard will make petrol vehicles more efficient but also catalyse slow sales of electric vehicles.

According to International Energy Agency data, 33,000 electric vehicles were sold in Australia in 2022. That compares to 73,000 in the Netherlands, which has about eight million fewer people.

Australia also has a few thousand electric car charging points, a small fraction of the number in the United States or Europe.

Opponents have alleged the reforms will make it more difficult for Australians to buy large 4x4s or "Utes" that are needed on farms -- threatening a way of life in the country's rugged Outback.

Australia is one of the world's largest producers and exporters of gas and coal, two key fossil fuels that are blamed for global heating.

The incumbent centre-left government has vowed to cut carbon emissions by 43 percent before 2030, when compared to 2005 levels.


AFP


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