States ranked in race for green transport

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Australia’s capital is winning the race for clean transport in the country, with the ACT clearly leading in a new study by the Climate Council, followed by New South Wales.

But three regions received warnings to improve their policies, with Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory all seeing an increase in transport emissions and finishing at the bottom of the list.

The Clean Transport Race report, released on Thursday, judged Australian states and territories on transport use and policies, including their transition to electric vehicles, public transport plans and cycling and walking infrastructure.

Climate Council advocacy officer Dr Jennifer Rayner said changing the way Australians travel was vital because transport accounted for 18.7% of national greenhouse gas emissions.

“The ACT is leading the way in the shift to cleaner transport and the rest of the country should follow its lead,” she said.

“Cleaning up transport is a top priority as we strive to bring emissions down this decade. Australians want transport options that are clean, accessible, reliable and better for our hip pockets and the climate.”

The ACT claimed first place in the study with a 7% reduction in its emissions, as well as the highest percentage of electric vehicle sales in the country, a zero-emission transport plan and a high rate of transport active such as cycling.

New South Wales was praised for its high use of public transport, at almost 14%, and its commitments to electric vehicles and buses, while Victoria and Tasmania, in tied third place, received gongs for active transportation and reducing emissions.

South Australia, fifth, was celebrated for its growing number of electric vehicle chargers, while Queensland received praise for its government fleet targets but a warning for its lack of electric vehicle chargers.

Last-placed Western Australia and the Northern Territory both saw substantial increases in transport emissions, at 20 and 37 per cent, although they were noted for their high use of public transport and active transport respectively .

Climate Council lead researcher Dr Carl Tidemann said the report showed Australian states and territories had made progress in reducing carbon emissions and some had started to compete.

“Queensland and Victoria have come forward with more ambitious plans (for zero emissions) and it feels a bit like they’re in competition. It has such positive benefits,” he said.

“There is work to be done but it’s a transition and it’s not going to happen at the same time.

“We would really like to see stronger commitments to phase out gas-powered cars, buses and trucks and, in their place, electrify the various forms of transport.”

The ACT is currently the only state to announce the end of the sale of new gasoline and diesel vehicles, scheduled for 2035.

However, New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland have announced plans to replace all government cars with electric vehicles by 2030 or earlier.

Good Car Company co-founder Anthony Broese van Groenou said states and territories clearly have different challenges depending on their geography, with greater distances to travel in Western Australia and the Northern Territory .

But he said all policymakers, including the federal government, needed to make greater strides in cutting emissions to meet Australia’s 2030 target.

“The place where we could do much better is to have a national policy for electric vehicles instead of asking states to go it alone,” he said.

“We need to have emission standards for vehicles that are aggressive and enforceable.”

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