02 November 2015

Fletcher to lead probe into how best to implements tighter emissions and pollution rules

The federal government will precede a move to Euro 6 emission rules with a three-minister forum to probe national vehicle emissions standards and vehicle testing arrangements.

Major projects minister Paul Fletcher will chair the ministerial forum supported by an interdepartmental working group to examine issues.

Though terms of reference details are scarce, these will include broadly:

  • implementation of Euro 6 or equivalent standards for new vehicles
  • fuel efficiency measures for new light vehicles
  • fuel quality standards
  • emissions testing arrangements for vehicles in conjunction with international regulatory agencies to ensure robust  testing
  • Australian Government measures under the National Clean Air Agreement
  • Emissions Reduction Fund and Safeguard Mechanism – transport measures
  • future infrastructure to support new vehicles, including funding available through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Australian Renewable Energy Agency
  • the National Energy Productivity Plan.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) was strong in its backing of the last point.

“The ATA is very pleased that the terms of reference for the forum include energy productivity,” ATA national policy manager Bill McKinley says.

“We will be pressing ministers to revitalise efforts to increase the use of high productivity vehicles on appropriate routes.

“Using high productivity vehicles would not just hold down the growth in vehicle emissions; it would also increase safety.

“The ATA will also be pressing for sensible and long overdue measures such as the use of single ultrawide tyres and a minor increase in the width of trucks to enable refrigerated vehicles to be fitted with more sidewall insulation.”

Though the announcement comes against a backdrop of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal, the trucking industry has been expecting a move of Euro 6 for some time.

But Fletcher is keen to emphasise that the government will listen to industry concerns.

“This ministerial forum will allow the Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt, the Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg and myself to consult broadly with industry with the aim of reducing harmful emissions on Australian roads and in our cities from motor vehicles,” he states.

“Presently we do not have the same levels of smog pollution in Australia that other countries face.

“Nevertheless, we must work hard to keep our air clean and reduce CO2 emissions that contribute to climate change by ensuring our new vehicles meet world’s best standards.

“Tough noxious emissions standards already ensure that air quality in Australian cities is good by international standards, but we are taking direct action on climate change through a range of initiatives. It is the Australian Government’s policy to harmonise our vehicle standards with international standards developed through the United Nations.

“We have recently adopted the United Nations based Euro 5 noxious emissions standards for light and heavy vehicles and are now considering the adoption of Euro 6.

“We are also working with other countries to improve the vehicle testing arrangements for noxious emissions.”

Hunt says the initiative complements ongoing programs.

“This includes consideration of the independent Review of the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 which will report to the Government in the first half of next year,” he says.

“The Australian Government is committed to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions so they are 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

“This announcement forms part of Australia’s preparations for the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to be held in Paris this December. The conference will see negotiations conclude on a new global climate agreement.”

Frydenberg underlines the vehicle angle in support of the federal productivity raising effort.

“The Government has set a goal of improving national energy productivity by 40 per cent by 2030,” he says.

“Improving the efficiency of vehicles is part of this goal, which can assist in lowering the household and business fuel bills of Australians.

“The Government will consult broadly and work with stakeholders to ensure that Australians have access to more efficient vehicles.”

The working group is to report to the ministerial forum by June 30 on measures including options for managing fuel quality standards, options for new measurement reporting standards for air pollutants under the National Clean Air Agreement and other measures.

It will report by March 31, 2017, on a draft implementation plan for new measures.

This would be in line with a commitment to announce new measures to deliver the nation’s 2030 climate change targets.

Extracted in full from ATN.