Australia needs more than a single page EV strategy to cut transport emissions

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EVs can help to significantly lower global transport emissions, but governments must develop the strategies to ensure they can achieve their full potential.

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Global governments, including Australia, will need proactive strategies to support the adoption of electric vehicles to drive down emissions in the transport sector, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Figures show that while the adoption of electric vehicles will help limit the growth in emissions from the transport sector, Governments must put in place policies to incentivise the shift to electric vehicles, and develop strategies to both support deployment in new infrastructure, such as charging stations, and ensure electricity grids are prepared to manage growth in energy demand.

“If national governments want to hit the aggressive emissions reductions targets, they have set, a stronger policy push will be needed to accelerate adoption.” BNEF said in the 2019 EV Outlook.

Despite many promises, the Australian Government has yet to develop a substantive national strategy for electric vehicles.

“Relying only on economics-only-driven uptake of electric vehicles will not be enough to curb emissions to a level to meet our Paris commitments, and additional policies will be required to do that,” Analyst Ali Asghar told a BNEF briefing.

At present, the National Strategy for Electric Vehicles that was released before the election, stands at a single page, and outlines no vision or strategies for electric vehicle uptake and contains little more than motherhood statements.

Little more could be expected from a minster who openly attacked electric vehicles before the election campaign.

The transport sector represents almost one-fifth of Australia’s emissions, and the sector is often overlooked when it comes to plans for decarbonising the economy.

The BNEF 2019 EV Outlook paints an optimistic picture for the electric vehicle sector, predicting the peak of global petrol vehicle sales. BNEF has also predicted that the total cost over the life of electric vehicles will be competitive with petrol vehicles as early as next year.

China and Europe are expected to lead global demand for EV uptake, following strong investment by local vehicle manufacturers in the production of EVs, as well as the deployment of charging infrastructure.

Increased electric vehicle uptake will be the biggest driver of reductions in oil consumption through to 2040. BNEF expects that the shift to EVs, along with improved fuel efficiency and a greater use of ride sharing services will contribute to an overall global oil demand from passenger vehicles will fall by almost one-quarter, or 5.7 million barrels per day.

bnef oil consumption fall

Energy demand will generally shift to the electricity sector, with EVs expected to add 6.7% to global electricity demand by 2040. But with the improved energy efficiency of electric vehicles, and the ability to shift electricity supplies to zero-emission renewable sources, overall emissions in the transport sector will be reduced.

Even with anticipated strong growth in electric vehicle sales, the continued use of combustion vehicles will see emissions continue to increase before peaking in 2030. When emissions from increased electricity use is taken into account, BNEF says that the effective peak in transport related emissions will be in 2032-33.

According to BNEF the overall impact on global transport emissions is likely to be more subdued than many would expect, with global transport emissions in 2040 forecast to be similar to 2018 levels.

Australia’s emissions from the transport sector have continued to grow steadily over the last decade, with the Federal Government resisting calls to implement effective fuel efficiency standards, and proving openly hostile to the adoption of electric vehicles. Transport emissions grew by 2.8% in 2018, growth that is expected to continue into the future, while the federal energy minister openly rejects the prospect of meaningful national vehicle standards.

“Without emissions standards in place, Australia could be a dumping ground for high-emissions-intensity vehicles,” BNEF analyst Ali Asghar said.

transport emissions australia

Growth has been driven by greater use of diesel fuels for road and rail transportation, while passenger vehicle emissions have dropped slightly, falling 4.1% since 2013. Growth in diesel emissions.

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