The federal government is under pressure to act to increase the uptake of electric vehicles after the Australian Capital Territory became the first state or territory to announce an end to the sale of petrol cars.
The Zero Emission Vehicle Strategy was announced by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr on Tuesday and commits the territory to phasing out internal combustion engines by 2035. This means no new gasoline-powered vehicles may not be sold in the territory after this date.
“We’re moving towards a path where the internal combustion engine vehicle will be as much of a novelty as a cassette tape or a black-and-white television in the context of technological change,” Barr said.
Asked about the ban during her speech at the National Press Club on Monday, Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said she was “really proud” of the policies the Albanian government took in the elections to reduce the cost of electric vehicles, including its “hydrogen highway” policy.
“The ACT government is absolutely capable of going beyond what the federal government has committed to, but as a federal government we are delivering on our election commitments,” she said.
She wouldn’t be drawn to the question of whether the federal government would act to introduce its own nationwide ban to prevent inconsistent disposal, but significant steps have been taken lately.
The comments follow an unusual move by the Federal Government on Monday when it will back a constitutional challenge to the Victorian government’s right to raise funds under its electric vehicle user charge.
The charge was imposed to eventually replace lower fuel excise revenue, but the plaintiffs in the case, two electric vehicle drivers, allege the federal government is responsible for collecting and distributing This money.
While other state attorneys general have moved to back Victoria, the federal government’s intervention puts it at odds with the states.
Richie Merzian, director of the climate and energy program at the Australia Institute, said the ACT announcement was “certainly not ambitious on a global scale”, but marked an Australian first that made pressure on the federal government to do more.
“The ACT broke the taboo,” Merzian said. “It was only three years ago that the federal government was running this fear campaign around electric vehicles.
“The ACT came first because it was also the first to achieve 100% renewable energy. Therefore, transportation accounts for the majority of its emissions. It’s the next taxi in line.
Several automakers have announced that they will no longer manufacture gasoline-powered cars by a certain day, and several countries have announced dates banning new sales of internal combustion engine vehicles. The first is Norway, which has set a date for 2025 but the majority have aimed for 2030.
“It’s great that the federal government has changed the rhetoric and taken the initial steps, but we can and should be doing so much more in the area of transportation,” Merzian said.
Merzian said research from the Australia Institute found that two-thirds of Australians favor ending petrol car sales by 2035.
ACT’s announcement also included a series of new policies to support those switching to electric vehicles, including interest-free loans, no registration fees and stamp duty exemptions.
Basically, the policy also stated that if the federal government fails to introduce tougher energy efficiency standards, the ACT government will coordinate with other states and territories to go it alone.
Behyad Jafari, chief executive of the Electric Vehicle Council, said it would be best if the Australian government acted and provided the necessary certainty.
“We urgently need to adopt nationally mandated energy efficiency standards and they need to be as stringent as they are in other markets,” Jafari said. “Otherwise it is set in stone that Australia should be left behind.
“If we don’t act, the remains of petrol and diesel vehicles will increasingly be dumped in Australia.”
Paul Sansom, chief executive of Volkswagen Group Australia, said “above all else” Australia needs a “federal mandate of a national emissions target for the automotive industry”.
“This is the most important measure to secure the supply of EVs to our factories,” Sansom said. “Markets that are subject to punitive fines for exceeding these emissions targets are necessarily prioritized for zero-emission vehicles.
“As counter-intuitive as it seems for a car importer to call for stricter regulation, that is precisely what Volkswagen Group Australia is asking of the Federal Government.”