As readers of previous editions of Automotive Dealer, you will be aware the Senate referred former Greens Senator Milne’s private members bill, the Motor Vehicle Standards (Cheaper Transport) Bill 2014, for review and inquiry to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee. AADA, in its submission to the Committee, recommended the Government adopt a whole of Government approach in addressing the issue of motor vehicle emissions.

In its wisdom, the Turnbull Government announced on 31 October 2015 that it would undertake a whole of Government approach to vehicle emissions through the establishment of a Ministerial Forum chaired by the Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Government, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP.

The initial stage of this review took place with Ministerial Forums held in Sydney on 7 December 2015 (attended by AADA CEO, Bruce McDonald), and in Canberra on 4 April 2016 (attended by AADA Policy Director, Michael Deed). The Ministerial Forum will be supported by a working group, which will be asked to examine issues including implementation of Euro 6, fuel quality standards, fuel efficiency measures (CO2) for light vehicles, as well as emissions testing arrangements.

Emissions from motor vehicles can be categorised into two types: noxious emissions and greenhouse gas emissions. Noxious emissions include carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter. Fossil fuels are the principal form of fuel for transport in Australia and are responsible for CO2 emissions.

The Ministerial Forum released a discussion paper on February 11, 2016 for public comment to examine ways to reduce the health and environmental impacts from motor vehicle emissions.

The terms of reference announced in October last year by Minister Fletcher include:

  • implementation of Euro 6 or equivalent standards for new vehicles
  • fuel efficiency (CO2) measures for light vehicles
  • fuel quality standards
  • emissions testing arrangements for vehicles in conjunction with international regulatory arrangements to ensure robust testing
  • Australian Government measures under the National Clear Air Agreement
  • Emissions Reduction Fund and Safeguard Mechanisms – transport industries
  • future infrastructure to support new vehicles, including funding available through the Clean Energy Corporation and Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and
  • National Energy Productivity Plan.

On 14 April, AADA responded to the ‘Vehicle Emissions Discussion Paper’ with a submission that supports a whole of Government approach for Australia to meet its target to reduce its greenhouse emissions to 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

In its submission, AADA supports a mandated fuel efficiency CO2 target from 2020, phased in to meet the Government’s 2030 greenhouse emissions target. Furthermore, AADA raised the need for extensive independent modelling to determine the costs and benefits of mandating an Australian standard that takes into account our unique fleet, the age of the fleet, lack of incentives and driving patterns.

AADA’s submission drew attention to the need to improve the quality of fuel used in Australia should the Government proceed with the introduction of Euro 6 standards. More importantly, there is the need to address excessive levels of sulphur present in Australian 91 Research Octane Number (RON) fuels, which have a current maximum sulphur limit of 150 parts per million (ppm). This high sulphur content can affect the durability and operation of emission control systems such as catalysts and particulate filters.

AADA strongly argued that the price competitive availability of 10 ppm sulphur petrol should be widely available in Australia prior to a Government decision to mandate Euro 6. In support of this case for better quality fuel, data in the discussion paper ranked Australian petrol quality (based on sulphur limits) at 63rd in the world, with only Mexico having worse petrol quality in the OECD. In comparison, New Zealand has a sulphur limit of 50 ppm for all grades of petrol. The Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP) has voiced concerns about the level of investment required to lift Australian fuel standards to meet Euro 6 within the Government’s timeframe.

The vehicle emissions working group will report to the Ministerial Forum by June 30 on measures to reduce noxious and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the road transport sector. This will be followed by consultation in the second half of 2016 on draft regulation impact statements. The working group will report to the Ministerial Forum by 31 March 2017 on a draft implementation plan for new measures – aligning with the Australian Government’s commitment to announce new measures to deliver Australia’s 2030 climate change targets.

The Vehicle Emissions Discussion Paper, February 2016 can be accessed on the AADA website at http://www.aada.asn.au/.

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