Australia’s top economists overwhelmingly back government measures to speed the transition to electric cars in order to meet emission reduction targets.
An exclusive poll of 62 of Australia’s preeminent economists — selected by their peers — finds 51 back measures to boost the take-up of electric cars including subsidising public charging stations, subsidising the purchase of all-electric vehicles, and setting a date to ban the import of traditionally-powered cars.
Only 11 oppose such measures, three of them because they prefer a carbon tax.
Six of the 51 who supported special measures said they did so reluctantly, as their preferred alternative would be a carbon price or a carbon tax, rather than subsidising “one alternative out of many to reduce emissions”.
Cars account for roughly half of Australia’s transport emissions, making them about 8% of Australia’s total emissions.
Yet Australia’s take-up of electric vehicles is dwarfed by the rest of the world.
On one measure, all-electric cars accounted for just 0.7% of new car sales in Australia in 2020 compared to 5% in China and 3.5% in the European Union.
Australia has no domestic car industry to protect, meaning industry policy concerns needn’t hold back the transition.
Norway plans to outlaw new petrol car sales from 2025; Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland and Israel from 2030; and California and Britain from 2035.
Asked whether Australia should take action to speed the transition, eight in ten of the 62 economists selected by the Economic Society said it should.