As the government finalises a new energy policy to take to Glasgow and is set to release a future fuel strategy, a think-tank says all light vehicles sold after 2035 should be zero emissions.
A Grattan Institute report released this week outlines an emissions ceiling that could curb sales of high-emitting petrol and diesel vehicles that taper off to zero by 2035.
Electric cars currently cost more than petrol or diesel cars, with prices expected to be level in the mid or late 2020s, but the institute argues the ceiling would save drivers money due to lower costs in running electric vehicles and the certainty it would provide industry.
The report also weighs up the congestion and safety consequences of costs for drivers lowering, and suggests state governments should introduce charges on motorists to reduce traffic and reduce urban speed limits.
Grattan Institute transport and cities program director Marion Terrill said governments could stifle downsides in advance to “prevent our cities becoming clogged”.
“Australians should have safe alternatives to driving – and when we do drive, we should use the best technology to do it with as little harm as possible,” Terrill said.
The report does not suggest that electric vehicle-charging infrastructure should be mandatory in properties that can install it, but incentives should be available and the wiring of new homes with off-street parking should prepare the property for installation.
“Installation costs can be high – potentially above $10,000 to upgrade a switchboard and rewire an older house,” the report says.
“But when they are leasing or selling a property, landlords and vendors should be required to disclose to prospective renters or buyers whether the property has charging infrastructure.”
As the number of Australia’s public charging facilities rise, the report says, government investment in the infrastructure should fill gaps that would not otherwise be filled by commercial providers.
“A crucial role for government will be managing the transition to electric vehicles while maintaining the security of Australia’s electricity supply,” the report adds.
Any government funding of charging infrastructure should be limited to investments that fill gaps in the network that are not otherwise likely to be filled by commercial providers.
The federal government is due to release a future fuel strategy in the coming weeks, with a discussion paper from earlier in the year arguing that government subsidies for ownership of electric vehicles currently did not give value for money.
“Analysis shows that this would be expected to cost the taxpayer $195-$747 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent, depending on the vehicle type and usage,” the report says.
“This is high when compared to the Emissions Reduction Fund price of $16 per tonne of carbon emitted.”
Instead, the report states, the government hopes to address barriers to the roll-out of new vehicle technologies that will increase consumer choice, invest in early-stage technologies to encourage private commitments, and offer information to help consumers make educated choices.