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Climate Council unveils sustainable transport policies

Active transport budgets, e-bike uptake and zero-emission buses are among the Climate Council’s policy recommendations for achieving sustainable transport across the country.

In its new policy package Charging Ahead, the council has laid out transport policies that are essential for curbing emissions across states and territories.

The council emphasises the urgency of climate action, making a firm case that Australia must reach net-zero emissions by 2035 to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.

Charging Ahead also stresses the immediate need for sustainable transport policy, given that transport-related greenhouse gas emissions re the fastest-growing source of emissions in Australia.

The council's solution is a rethink of the transport system. In particular, Australia needs to move from a ‘car-focussed’ to ‘people-focussed’ transport system, dominated by active (walking and cycling) and public transport, rather than cars.

The policy package outlines 3 high-level recommendations for achieving near-absolute zero emissions across states and territories.

  1. Plan for zero-emissions personal transport, which includes establishing clear mode-shift targets for public and active transport, transport strategies that prioritise sustainable transport, ensuring that at least 50% of transport infrastructure spending is directed to public and active transport.
  2. Invest in active transport, which includes launching pilot programs to stimulate uptake of 'e-rideables', prioritising active transport links with train stations, expediting ‘shovel-ready’ active transport projects, and reducing traffic speeds.
  3. Be a leader in low-emissions public transport, which includes moving towards a fully electric bus fleet, expanding public transport infrastructure, and moving towards 100% renewable energy across the wider transport network.

A vision of the future from Climate Council's 'Charging Ahead' policy document.

In addition to its Charging Ahead policy package, the council released a policy brief that identifies 3 ‘wins’ that states and territories could seize in moving sustainable transport forward:

  1. allocating appropriate budget for public transport, walking and bike-riding
  2. encouraging e-bike uptake
  3. converting the state’s bus fleet to clean, quiet, zero-emission vehicles.

“Good transport is so important for people’s quality of life,” the Climate Council’s Head of Advocacy Jennifer Rayner said when releasing the package.

“Everybody should be entitled to frequent, safe, accessible and connected zero-emissions transport options," she said.

“The current model prioritising privately-owned vehicles is expensive. Personal vehicles are expensive to buy and run, require maintenance and cost governments in ongoing investment in roads and infrastructure. They also contribute to traffic congestion, transport disadvantage and high greenhouse gas emissions.

“To play our role in ensuring a liveable future and achieving the science-backed target of net-zero emissions by 2035, Australia needs to cut our reliance on private cars. Boosting walking, riding, rolling, and zero-emissions public transport will benefit everyone through less congestion, cleaner air and cutting harmful emissions,” she said.  

Many of the Climate Council's policies align with Bicycle Network’s goals of encouraging governments to forge a clear path towards more sustainable transport options that benefit both the community and the environment.

You can view the Climate Council's sustainable transport policy recommendations here.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.