Report shows credible transport decarbonisation beyond EVs 

Hydrogen truck driving along highway (countrywide plug power)
Hydrogen fuel cell truck (Image: Shutterstock)

New scenario modelling by Monash University’s Climateworks Centre demonstrates that Australia can bolster transport decarbonisation by expanding its approach to include a suite of solutions, calling for a shift in the way governments plan and fund transport in the face of modest electric vehicle (EV) uptake.

Climateworks Transport Program lead Helen Rowe said, “Developing a credible plan to reduce transport emissions requires a shift in the way governments at all levels plan and fund transport—putting emissions reductions at the heart.”

The Climateworks modelling, presented in its latest report Decarbonising Australia’s transport sector: Diverse solutions for a credible emissions reduction plan, examines what a credible plan to decarbonise Australia’s transport sector could look like, going beyond EVs and giving the country more options to successfully turn the wheel on its fastest-growing source of emissions.

Related article: Are we there yet? Accelerating Australia’s transition to EVs

“The goal is to reduce transport emissions, move people and goods efficiently and create a sector that is resilient to the challenges ahead—this requires Australia to expand its focus beyond EVs,” Rowe said.

“As transport emissions continue to ramp-up, now is the time to be diversifying solutions, rather than placing our eggs in the one basket.

“Just like in the energy sector, where the nation is backing a whole suite of clean energy solutions, Australia can do the same with transport, by ramping up EV uptake while also supporting things like public and active transport, zero-emissions trucks and shifting more freight by rail,” Rowe said.

trucks on a highway with sun shining from above
Image: Shutterstock

Report lead author Lily Rau said, “The good news is that decarbonising transport and improving the transport system overall can go hand in hand. Solutions that move people and goods more efficiently also cut emissions.

“This modelling was designed with impact in mind—to create the evidence that shows how and why the Australian government should go beyond EVs as they design the transport sector’s national decarbonisation plan.”

Based on the modelling, Climateworks recommends that the Australian government apply the following in developing a credible transport sector decarbonisation plan:

  1. Implement a portfolio of solutions beyond EVs so there is no single point of failure.
  2. Take every opportunity to increase zero-emissions vehicle (EVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles) uptake from current levels.
  3. Consider additional benefits beyond just emissions reduction when assessing different approaches to decarbonise transport.

Related article: Sweden trials electric road that charges EVs as they drive

Climateworks defines a ‘credible’ plan as one that supports the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C; achieves better outcomes for the transport system as a whole; and uses all available transport decarbonisation solutions, as per the globally recognised Avoid, Shift and Improve (ASI) framework:

  • Avoid: Avoiding the need for some travel and making car and truck trips shorter and more efficient.
  • Shift: Shifting to lower-emissions modes of transport, also referred to as ‘mode shift’, such as travelling by train instead of plane, using more active and public transport, and moving more freight by rail.
  • Improve: Improving vehicle and fuel efficiency, for example, getting more zero-emissions vehicles on the road and using lower carbon liquid fuels.
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