Rising transport emissions show the need to end subsidies for high-emitting SUVs and utes

by Audrey Quicke

The latest emissions projections reveal that emissions from SUVs will cancel out the reductions that occur due to electric vehicles

The latest annual report on Australia’s emissions projections reveals that transport emissions are set to grow through to 2035, despite a projected increase in electric car sales. The government projects that by 2035 electric vehicles will account for 44% of new car sales compared to less than 1% in 2019. But despite this uptake, transport emissions are not set to fall for more than a dozen years.

Why? Aussies are buying bigger vehicles, effectively erasing the benefit of reduced emissions that comes from growing electric car sales.

According to Government projections, “while EV uptake grows to 2030, the associated emission reductions are offset by the growth in uptake of larger vehicles (e.g. Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and light commercial vehicles)”.

To bring down transport emissions, subsidies for large, high-emissions vehicles need to end – in conjunction with policies to incentivise electric vehicles (like the recently passed Electric Car Discount Bill) and increased public and active transport use. Currently, small-business owners can write off the cost of new utes and heavy-duty vehicles if used for business purposes, regardless of the business (graphic designer, hairdresser, etc.).

According to the 2022 Climate of the Nation, 55% of Australians support removing subsidies for large four-wheel drives (through the instant asset write-off scheme) – more than twice those that oppose (20%).

The projected trend of increasing transport emissions also highlights the need for a federal transport decarbonisation policy and fuel efficiency standards – both recommended by the Australia Institute in our submission to the National EV Strategy currently being drafted.

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