Federal fuel emissions forum wants industry input

Fletcher and Frydenberg at forefront of effort that puts Euro 6 on agenda

Federal fuel emissions forum wants industry input
Josh Frydenberg, left and Paul Fletcher, centre, inspecting low-emission cars earlier this year


The Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions (MFVE) is seeking input from industry and consumers on vehicle emissions, including trucks.

The call comes more than a year after the federal government first mooted the three-minister interdepartmental working group inquiry chaired by major projects minister Paul Fletcher and also involving environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg.

Consultation will begin on three draft proposals to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from car, truck and bus exhausts.

"The draft proposals are designed to keep Australia in line with international vehicle markets—and keep us enjoying some of the cleanest air in the world," Fletcher’s office says.

The first proposal is for new fuel efficiency standards. 

"By requiring global automotive manufacturers to supply vehicles in Australia with more fuel efficient engines—as they are now doing in many other countries—these new standards could cut consumer fuel spending by up to $28 billion by 2040," minsters’ offices say.

"This translates into annual fuel savings for the average owner of a passenger car and light commercial vehicle of up to $519 and $666 respectively."

The proposed standards could also reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by up to 65 million tonnes by 2030, with these reductions helping meet Australia's emissions reduction targets.

Under the Paris Agreement, Australia has an "ambitious" target of reducing emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030, one of the highest on a per capita basis in the G20.

The second proposal is to upgrade existing air pollution standards for cars, trucks and buses, in line with higher standards which already apply in Europe, the US and many other countries.

"This could reduce toxic emissions and potentially save $4.2 billion in healthcare costs by 2040," the announcement says.

"Current fuel standards expire in 2019 and we need to be ready with new standards to ensure Australians can have access to the right fuel for the latest vehicle technology. The right standards will deliver further health and environmental benefits."

The MFVE will host a ‘stakeholder engagement forum’ in February as part of the consultation on these proposals.

In a submission on a government discussion paper earlier in the year, the Truck Industry Council (TIC) said it "cautiously supports" the Government’s proposed move to higher emission, Euro 6 standards for heavy vehicles but questioned the direction of such a reform, given the low take-up of cleaner heavy trucks.

It points out that though Euro 5-equivalent ADR80/03 standards have been in place for new heavy vehicles since 2010, less than 13 per cent of the national fleet meets this standard and 30 per cent fail to comply with any standard.

It pointed to a lack of government appreciation that mandated improvements mean heavier trucks, with the move to from Euro 5 to Euro 6 to add 200-300kg, depending on type and size.

"The cost of this government regulated emission compliance has also not come cheaply for truck manufacturers and customers alike, with operators paying for the cost of this mandated cleaner technology when purchasing a new heavy vehicle," TIC said.

"Together with the above weight increases, this has resulted in a new ADR80/03 (Euro 5 and equivalent) truck being less productive and relatively more expensive than older existing trucks."

It also took the government to task over the lack of controls for other engines.

"A significant contributor to these air quality issues comes from all the ‘unregulated’ off-road engines that operate in Australia, such as diesel and petrol powered boats, ships and trains, stationary engines and power generation, earthmoving, construction and mining equipment, recreational vehicles and equipment, etc.

"These internal combustion engine powered vehicles, devices and equipment have no exhaust emission regulation and unlike most developed nations and an increasing number of developing nations, government in Australia has chosen to ignore these sources of noxious gas emissions. Rather government has chosen to put ever increasing cost and burden on the on-road vehicle sector."

Information on how to lodge a submission on any of the three draft proposals is available at infrastructure.gov.au/roads/environment/forum. Submissions close on March 10.

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