The Greens have proposed introducing mandatory fuel efficiency standards, ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, and imposing a four-year 17% tax on luxury petrol and diesel cars as part of an electric vehicle policy announced on Tuesday.
Under the proposal Australia would adopt a mandatory fuel efficiency standard of 105g of CO2 a kilometre by 2022, three years earlier than a proposal being considered by the federal government.
It would also cut tariffs and charges on new electric or zero-emissions vehicles, including the 5% import tariff, GST and stamp duty, in order to lower the purchase price to match new petrol or diesel cars, and offer three years free registration on new zero-emissions vehicles.
A University of New South Wales researcher, Gail Broadbent, who is studying electric vehicles at the university’s school of biological, earth, and environmental sciences, said the targets were achievable and would increase Australia’s sluggish adoption of electric vehicles, provided exemptions were included for remote Indigenous communities that were unlikely to have access to a charging station.
Broadbent said introducing strict vehicle emissions targets was essential for increasing the uptake of hybrid, electric, fuel cell and other zero-emissions vehicles in Australia.
“There is no incentive for vehicle manufacturers to bring them into the country so we just get fobbed off the old vehicles,” she told Guardian Australia. “Electric vehicles are cheaper to maintain so there’s no incentive for manufacturers to bring them here if the policy settings do not shift.”
The proposal would also impose targets on large car manufacturers so that 2% of all car and light vehicle sales in Australia in 2020, increasing to 10% by 2050, were of zero-emissions vehicles.
Electric cars make up just 0.1% of new car sales in Australia, compared with 20% in Norway and the Netherlands, which have both introduced targets to phase out fossil fuel emitting cars by 2025 and 2030 respectively.
Broadbent said research by UNSW showed concern about the lack of charging stations was the biggest barrier to Australians purchasing an electric car. According to the environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg, Australia has 476 public car charging stations.
The Turnbull government, through the ministerial forum on vehicle emissions, proposed introducing a mandatory 105g CO2 per km fuel efficiency standard by 2025, prompting strong backlash from the automotive industry and lobby groups.
A discussion paper excluded consideration of the fuel standards which would provide “the greatest health and environmental benefits”.
Frydenberg has said the federal government supports the rollout of electric vehicles, including offering a discount to the luxury car tax for low-emissions vehicles. He says he expects the number of electric vehicles on Australian roads to increase almost 60-fold to 230,000 cars by 2025.
The Greens climate change and energy spokesman, Adam Bandt, called on Labor to support the policy, which was to be announced as part of the Batman byelection campaign.
“This plan is the quantum leap we need to reduce emissions, meet our paltry Paris targets and to stop people dying from air pollution,” Bandt said.
Federal Labor’s emissions reduction policies are focused around a 50% renewable energy target by 2030, but the South Australian Labor government, which will go to the polls on the same day as Batman, has pledged to waive stamp duty and five years’ registration costs for new electric or zero-emissions cars if re-elected.