EVs. It’s on Clover Moore, Sally Capp and Graham Quirk

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Australia’s state and federal governments could do more to boost EV uptake, but city-based policies would be far more effective.

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Interested in EVs? Make sure you bookmark www.theicct.org

Globally, the ICCT is one of, if not the main website for information on vehicle fuel standards, policy developments and work in the area. Its stats are not always the most up-to-date, but its understanding of policy is. Keep it on your bookmark list.

Low-cost, city-based EV policies can be very effective

Your analyst agrees that federal and state governments in general have a shameful record on vehicle fuel emissions and promotion of CO2 emission reductions in vehicles.

Oil is responsible for 34 per cent of global CO2 emissions but gets off very lightly relative to coal, which accounts for 40 per cent of global emissions.

Australia has far less to lose by focusing on oil rather than coal. Australia is a net oil importer and a massive coal exporter.

That said, it’s often forgotten that oil is heavily taxed in Australia and the federal excise tax is at $0.396 litre unleaded fuel. Total federal fuel excise revenue is $17 billion, comparable with a $30/t carbon tax on 550 mt of CO2.

This fuel excise would never have been implemented if it had been framed as a carbon reduction measure.

But when it was introduced, CO2 reduction wasn’t a public issue and as a fuel efficiency measure Australians have, in general, quite happily accepted it and most never think of it.

That’s possibly because there is no real oil lobby in Australia, no Mineral Council equivalent. The federal government likes, even needs the money.

The fuel excise tax, though, is not enough to induce a switch to EVs on its own.

Instead, we argue that city-based policies would be far more effective. And the mayors of Sydney, Clover Moore; Melbourne, Sally Capp; and Brisbane, Graham Quirk could do far more to make EV’s popular at lower cost than just about anyone.

But they do nothing. We particularly pick on Clover Moore, who loves to tout her green credentials but on this issue is invisible.

Yet Sydney cries out for better transport solutions. It goes further than EVs, down to electric bikes, speed limited when they need not be, electric scooters etc. Local city policy could do a lot, but in fact that doesn’t happen.

The message from overseas

A March 2017 white paper from the ICCT EV capitals of the world made the following points.

  • In 2015 1/3 of global EV sales went to just 14 EV capital cities.
  • High EV take up was associated with charging infrastructure, promotion and unique policies. Policies included:
    • Waiving tunnel tolls in Norway (Sydney could give toll exemptions, this would be massively attractive to Sydneysiders for whom tolls are crippling for some motorists)
    • Congestion zone tax relief in London
    • Carpool lanes, eg transit lanes exemption in Los Angeles (again, transit lane exemption would be attractive in Sydney)
    • Vehicle licensing policies (exemption from lotteries in Beijing and Shanghai)

Key cities – a very quick snap shot

Shanghai: Even in 2015 had 11 per cent of new vehicle sales electric and managed 146 public charge points per million people, and 21,700 charge points in total. This was 2015 and things move fast in China.

Copenhagen: Has free rego, free parking and tax refunds on electricity used to charge EVs.

Paris: Free parking, plus direct federal cash grant of up to 6,300 euros.

Amsterdam: Federal incentives include rego and road tax exemption and 20 per cent off the purchase price for electric trucks and buses up to 40,000 euros. City incentives include residential parking permit priority, free floating parking permits for car sharing companies with fully electric fleets.

Oslo: Low road taxes, exempt from road and ferry tolls, bus lane access, free parking, free electricity for normal charging.

Stockholm: Federal cash incentives. Free parking

London: Federal grant up to 4,500 sterling, additional 3000 sterling for electric taxi. Local exemption from congestion tax, free or reduced parking in some areas, central ultra low emission zone to start from 2019. All single deck buses to be ZEV by 2020, etc.

Los Angeles: Federal tax credit of $7,500, state rebate $2,500, Local city parking benefit, preferential access to high occupancy vehicle lanes.

David Leitch is principal of ITK. He was formerly a Utility Analyst for leading investment banks over the past 30 years. The views expressed are his own. Please note our new section, Energy Markets, which will include analysis from Leitch on the energy markets and broader energy issues. And also note our live generation widget, and the APVI solar contribution.

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13 Comments
  1. Tom 2 years ago

    Remember when Clover Moore built gas turbines in the city?
    Now the City can’t go solar because they would have to admit gas was a mistake.

  2. Andy Saunders 2 years ago

    Can’t see the private-sector owners of Sydnay’s toll roads giving up the right to tolls. Unless the government offered to reimburse them at more than 100%…

    • Joe 2 years ago

      The Toll road punters in Sydney are starting to rebel. There was an item on ABC news last night (31/5 ) that there are less drivers using the new widened M4 Tollway because of crippling toll charges. I’m no expert on Toll roads but is it possible that an operator could go broke with declining usage by drivers? Could the government then step in and take over the Toll road operations? Would that not be an opportunity to give EV’s some incentives?

      • Andy Saunders 2 years ago

        Yes, the road operators could go under – they are heavily geared. A drop in traffic is unlikely, as traffic generally is quite robust and even recession-proof, but I suppose might be possible.

        No, the government wouldn’t then step in and operate the roads – the administrator/receiver would simply sell them off to a new owner (probably less highly-geared), and things would carry on little changed.

        • neroden 2 years ago

          Many toll road operators in the US have gone bankrupt. The government stepped in and took them over. But most toll roads in the US have alternative, parallel free routes.

          • Mike Westerman 2 years ago

            Which goes to the fundamental absurdity of private funding of public infrastructure: societal gains are only captured in the absence of disincentives to use more efficient infrastructure but private finance premiums can only be afforded by creating monopoly privilege.

          • Andy Saunders 2 years ago

            Bankruptcy, yes. Nationalisation, no.

            Transurban owned Pocahontas Parkway bankrupt in 2013, taken over by DBi Services, in May 2014.

            San Diego South Bay Expressway went bankrupt, the government ended up with 35% ownership but only because a federal loan was written down.

            Two sections of Texas 130 were licensed out (govt retained ownership), licensee went into ch11 in 2016, exited in 2017 with new PE owner.

            Indiana Toll Road owned by Mac Bank and Ferrovial went into ch11 in 2015, then bought out by IFM Investors.

            Not sure there have been many others. I don’t think your comment is too accurate.

  3. Anthony 2 years ago

    To be fair to local government, almost none of them, bar Brisbane, have the jurisdiction to waive tolls, register vehicles, legislate for e-bikes, manage access to bus lanes, etc. In NSW, even the ability to offer concessions for parking meter fees is a state government prerogative.

    There’s plenty to blame local government for, but not this.

  4. Mike Westerman 2 years ago

    Sydney City is tiny, little more than the CBD, a mere 26km2, population a bit over 200k, even tho commuters obviously multiply that several times. The City of Sydney has relatively limited powers and budget. The shear number of individual city councils and their limited powers in the Sydney metro limit any of them doing much – power rests with the State Government. The City of Brisbane is 1343km2, population well over 1.1M, extensive powers enshrined in an Act, and a budget almost the size of Tasmania. If Brisbane limited emissions from vehicles with a sunset on vehicle emissions in the future, that would make a considerable difference.

  5. Ian 2 years ago

    Oil, time to go!

    34% of global CO2 emissions, that is ridiculous. Australians get taxed 39.6c/l and this generates $17 billion a year this equates to roughly 4.3 million m3 of oil a year which is truely shameful.

    What are the options for deoilling transportation?

    One amongst many is changing ICE vehicles to BEV. Which may or may not be the lowest hanging fruit. This is dependent on making BEV more competitive than ICE to the public. David does a great job at showing what others have done to tip the balance. Since the simple showroom cost of BEV does not favour this type of vehicle, policymakers must play a key role to actually make electric cars the better choice for people. $17 billion in tax revenue a year from liquid fuels, don’t expect too much help from your government.

    The biggest hurdle to adopting BEV is thus a $17 billion obstruction. A wall we have to contend with. That’s the challenge. How do we get beyond this wall?

  6. Ian 2 years ago

    The best way to change a corporate/government culture or introduce new ideas is to work at the periphery, the non-core business. Electric buses is just such an initiative. A second is cycleways , a third would be parking facilities on the periphery of downtown districts with electric ,and free transport modes around city centres. Any work on electrifying transport and removing ICE vehicles from cities is essential.

  7. solarguy 2 years ago

    The government will be looking for the lost $17 billion in revenue. Eventually there maybe a tax per kwh on charging, when there is a critical mass of EV’s.

  8. disqus_NyC8M8kege 2 years ago

    yeah so city of sydney doesn’t have jurisdiction over any of the policies you list. Do you not do any research before you take a swipe at someone???

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