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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Underwhelming 'Future Fuels Strategy' earns Australia's 4th Fossil award of COP26 on poor transport emissions policy

Where Australia stands on road transport climate policy Via Australia Institute
The release of the Australian Government's 'Future Fuels Strategy' on the eve of Transport Day of the UN Climate Conference, with little substance to increase Electric Vehicles takeup ensured Australia of a Fossil of the Day. This is Australia's 4th Fossil award of COP26.

The United States received the first Fossil award of the day for failing to take basic steps to halt fossil fuel production. Serbia received a third place award for giving grace to big polluters.

The Future Fuels Strategy is policy with little leadership in the area of transport emissions. While it does fund some public charging infrastructure, it miserably fails to incentivise electric vehicles. It fails to include any subsidies, tax incentives, or sales targets.

Crucially, it also fails to deliver minimum fuel efficiency standards, which have been used in the  US and Europe for decades to reduce fuel costs and vehicle pollution. One result of this is Australia becomes a dumping ground for old vehicle technology. It will also constrain the number of electric vehicle models that manufacturers will export to Australia.

“There’s no sugar coating it, Future Fuels is a fizzer,” said Behyad Jafari, CEO of the Electric Vehicle Council in a statement

“If it contained fuel efficiency standards and rebates it would give Australians more choice. The best and most affordable EVs manufacturers are producing would make their way swiftly onto our market.

“Fuel efficiency standards are the absolute bare minimum of what you would expect in any 21st century plan.

“If Australia continues to be one of the only developed nations without fuel efficiency standards then we will continue to be a dumping ground for the world’s dirtiest vehicles. It’s sadly that simple.

“Future Fuels is certainly an advance on the government’s rhetoric of the last election. The strategy has identified some of the correct benefits and pathways, but it does little to realise them.

“I welcome the progress we’ve seen, but it’s far too little too late. For a strategy that has apparently taken years to write, it leaves much to be desired. Electric vehicles present a monumental opportunity for Australia not only in reducing pollution, but creating an innovative industry in manufacturing, technology, and services.

“The sector will continue to urge the government to take appropriate actions that get more vehicles to Australia and on our roads. It’s a shame this government doesn’t have the same ambition for Australians that the electric vehicle industry does.”

Victoria has already set a 50 percent EV sales target by 2030. Similarly, NSW set a 50 percent sales target for electric vehicles by 2031. The states are doing the heavy lifting while the Federal Government abrogates its responsibility.

Richie Merzian from The Australia Institute at COP26 in Glasgow, outlines How to Fix the PMs Lacklustre Electric Vehicle Strategy in this Youtube interview with Skynews

In a statement Richie Merzian highlighted:

“The Federal Government’s new Future Fuels Strategy will struggle to drive up electric vehicles sales and drive down transport emissions. Norway, the global leader on EVs, has driven the transition to cheaper, faster, and cleaner vehicles through credible policies and regulations,” said Richie Merzian, climate & energy program director at the Australia Institute.

“The Prime Minister states his strategy is about offering choice of vehicles when in fact it does the opposite. Australia Institute’s submission on the earlier Future Fuels Discussion Paper notes a lack of credible transport policies including CO2 emission standards, electric vehicle incentives and fleet targets have been a handbrake on choice, robbing everyday Australian’s of the affordable electric vehicles which the United Kingdom and Norway enjoy.

“On Wednesday in Glasgow, the UK is preparing to announce the commitment to end the sale of new polluting cars by 2035 for wealthy countries and 2040 for developing countries. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Morrison, back home, has returned to the same damaging rhetoric around not ‘forcing’ Australians to save money and emissions by opting for electric vehicles.

“When it comes to fleets, the Government has chosen not to lead by example. It would cost less to electrify the federal fleet than what the Government recently spent on road upgrades to access the Beetaloo gas basin.

“Electric vehicles are more affordable to run and maintain, safer on the roads, better for the climate and popular, with seven in ten Australians keen to make the switch according to the Climate of the Nation 2021. The Formula E race car, on display at the COP26 venue in Glasgow, is also a clear reminder that electric vehicles won’t just bring it in the race to zero emissions but also on the racecourse too.” said Merzian.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a speech to Second Global Sustainable Transport conference on 14 October 2021, stressed as a priority "Phase out the production of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035 for leading manufacturing countries, and by 2040 for developing countries."  He also stressed the role of government,  "Governments must incentivize clean transport options, including through standards and taxation, and impose stricter regulation of infrastructure and procurement. " 

Clearly Australia is not listening on clean transport and reducing transport emissions.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Glasgow, Scotland, DATE 09/11/21

US ranks first in the Fossil of the Day Award for failing to take basic steps to halt fossil fuel production

Only last week in Glasgow, President Biden was talking sprints, marathons and finishing lines in the race to net zero. Seems like he’s had enough of those sporting analogies and is back to speaking the language of black gold and carbon as the U.S. is set to announce a new oil and gas drilling programme off the Gulf Coast.

As fossil fuel enabler-in-chief his administration has even outdone Trump by approving over 3,000 new drilling permits on public lands. Joe has refused to stop the Line 3 pipeline, expected to transport 760,000 barrels per day, and is keeping the fossil fuel lobby happy with sweet whispers of carbon capture storage and hydrogen. And the cherry on this carbon cake - the US shunned a global pact to commit to a coal end date.

Now we know he’s ‘talked the talk’ about stopping deforestation, taken the methane pledge, agreed to boost climate finance and outlined a clean energy investment plan but until this hot air is converted into action we’re not convinced.

We may have more faith if he used his presidential powers to declare a climate emergency, stop Line 3 and, while he’s at it, end all new federal fossil fuel project permits and end oil exports. As the largest historical carbon emitter Joe owes it to us all to pay that climate debt and then some.

Australia comes in second place for a diabolic strategy ahead of Transport Day

Day two of week two wouldn’t be complete without an appearance by Australia. This time, on top of their complete lack of progress on a worthwhile NDC 2030 update, or any remote plans to end fossil fuels, on the eve of ‘Transport Day’ at COP26, good old PM Scott Morrison has outdone himself again with an ‘inaction plan’ for EVs - in celebration of his love of gas guzzlers.

The #ScottyFromMarketing plan includes no new tax breaks, sales targets, subsidies, incentives to increase consumer EV choice and, to cap it all, zero improvements to air pollution or fuel quality standards. It looks like we’ll be hearing from those V8s for a good while longer. Our bet is that transport’s going to speed past electricity as the land down under’s biggest source of emissions in the not too distant future.

Serbia comes in third place for giving grace to big polluters

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic came over all Shakespeare (or so he thought) during his COP26 speech, saying : “The Earth has music for those who listen”. Now our resident fact checkers are pretty sure this isn’t one from the Bard of Avon. But what they are certain of is that: “Serbia hath laws for those that doth pollute”.

The Serbian Government has adopted amendments to the law on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control, in favour of large scale polluters. The National Assembly Committee for Environment rubber stamped these amendments giving coal fired power stations free reign to continue business as usual without the necessary environmental permits for three more years with support from Members of the Serbian National Assembly.

It seems fitting that we end today’s fossil with a quote from Shakespeare about something that is as relevant today as it was then:

Let the clean air blow the cobwebs from your body. Air is medicine. ... I know that our bodies were made to thrive only in pure air, and the scenes in which pure air is found” - Troilus and Cressida


About the fossils: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (, members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress in the negotiations in the last days of talks.

About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 1,500 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 120 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human0induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.

Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of more than 1,500 civil society organisations in over 130 countries driving collective and sustainable action to fight the climate crisis and to achieve social and racial justice. CAN convenes and coordinates civil society at the UN climate talks and other international events.

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