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Australia’s lack of vehicle emissions standards is costing its drivers dearly: it means more pollution, near total reliance on imported fuels, and the latest estimate has placed the cost burden on consumers since 2015-5, $9 billion.

The savings translate – according to a study commissioned by the Australia Institute – to around $1 billion a year, but in 2021, due to rising petrol tanker prices, the cost is estimated at $2.2 billions of dollars – a huge tax on Australian consumers, and one they seem completely oblivious to.

You often hear that Australia is at risk of becoming a dumping ground for dirty, inefficient cars. But the reality is that it already is.

The country is one of the few Western countries without fuel emissions standards – despite numerous recommendations over the past decade and a half.

And it’s not just higher fuel costs that are caused by the lack of fuel emission standards.

Australia, according to the TAI, is almost entirely dependent on imports of refined fuels and crude to meet consumption, and imports 91% of all fuel consumed in Australia. Three quarters (73%) of Australia’s total liquid fuel demand is consumed by the transport sector and more than half (54%) by road transport alone.

The TAI estimates that if fuel efficiency standards had been introduced in 2016, Australia could have imported 4,000 million liters less oil.

Australia could have avoided 9 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions if fuel efficiency standards had been introduced in 2016, roughly the same emissions from domestic aviation in a year normal.

The Electric Vehicle Council says Australia has become the world’s worst dumping ground for dirty vehicles, and a lack of fuel efficiency standards has made it difficult to buy electric vehicles and long lead times. He rejects attempts by the main car lobby to impose low standards.

“The only energy efficiency standards that will make a difference are standards consistent with those that exist in the United States and Europe,” said EVC managing director Behyad Jafari.

“Automakers sell the bulk of their vehicles in markets with fuel efficiency standards because it helps avoid penalties. There is currently no such incentive in Australia, which relegates this market to a lower priority.

“There is no path to net zero by 2050 unless Australia stops selling emitting vehicles by 2035. Cars in Australia have an average lifespan of 15 years. If we still sell a significant amount of combustion engine vehicles in 2036, we are failing at net zero. It’s so easy.”

For a full report on the TAI’s recommendations, see the accompanying article on RenewEconomy: Carbon tax on wheels? The damning case for Australia to go electric.

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