The transport sector offers one of the most financially attractive emissions reduction opportunities across the Australian economy. Despite this, it is one of the fastest growing emissions sectors within Australia, nearly doubling in output since 1990.

Common barriers to reducing emissions from the transport sector include lack of light vehicle emissions standards. Over 80 percent of the global automotive market is covered by such standards, yet Australia is just one of a handful of developed countries still without any.

ClimateWorks’ research has found:

  • Best practice standards for light vehicle CO2 emissions standards could see the fuel efficiency of Australia’s new light vehicle fleet improved by over 50% within 10 years

  • Improving the fuel efficiency of passenger and light commercial vehicles could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost four megatonnes (Mt) of CO2 per year by 2020 and nine Mt CO2 per year by 2025

  • By 2025, switching from conventional to electric vehicles could save drivers an average net annual savings of approximately $350 over a five-year ownership period as well as help produce economy-wide fuel savings of almost $8 billion per year

  • Australia’s fuel security can be enhanced through fuel efficiency, with fuel demand reducing under best practice standards by 40-66 million barrels per year in 2024

  • Increasing uptake of electric vehicles while decarbonising the electricity grid (or sourcing electricity from low carbon sources) could provide emissions reductions of 9MtCO2 e by 2030 and 27MtCO2 e by 2050

Reducing emissions from the transport sector, including improving the fuel efficiency of Australia’s light vehicle fleet, can deliver substantial environmental and economic benefits for the nation. ClimateWorks is collaborating with industry, consumer groups and government to address policy and market barriers to realising this significant opportunity.

Find out more about our work in the transport sector.


Towards Fuel Efficient, Lower Emission Light Vehicles: Submission to the Vehicle Emissions Discussion Paper [PDF 6.24 MB]

The transport sector is one of the fastest growing sources of emissions within Australia, increasing by 47.5% since 1990, however it also represents one of the most financially attractive emission reduction opportunities across the Australian economy. ClimateWorks and Future Climate Australia have identified that best practice light vehicle CO2 emission standards can reduce emissions from light vehicles by about 100 million tonnes between 2020 to 2030 - close to 10% of the Federal Government’s emissions reduction target over that period.

The Path Forward for Electric Vehicles in Australia - Joint Submission to the Federal Government Vehicle Emissions Discussion Paper [PDF 1.63 MB]

A broad coalition of representatives from Australia’s emerging electric vehicle market including TransGrid, AGL, Tesla, Ergon and Renault (convened by ClimateWorks) is calling on the Federal Government to support a nationally co-ordinated approach to support the move from petrol and diesel, to electric cars.

No, cutting your car's carbon emissions won't cost you more

The Australian government has started looking into carbon dioxide emissions standards for light vehicles, as part of new measures to meet the nation’s 2030 climate targets. However, some are already questioning the use of standards, with media reports pointing to higher costs for new car buyers and the possibility of the government bungling the introduction of standards.