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Strengthen the fuel efficiency standard for health’s sake, doctors urge the cross bench

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) calls for the cross bench to reject the watered down and delayed fuel efficiency standard, and to protect the health of Australians by requiring new vehicle fleet standards similar to the option B that was put to public consultation.

Spokesperson for the medical advocacy organisation Dr Ben Ewald says,  “Fuel efficiency standards are long overdue but this week’s proposal caves in to industry pressure.”

“Minister Chris Bowen made the announcement flanked by car industry executives. Where were the people adversely affected by big heavy gas guzzling cars? The people with lung cancer after breathing in diesel exhaust? The people with asthma who live near busy roads? The people sick during heatwaves due to excessive CO2 emissions?  The people injured in car crashes involving these big heavy vehicles that are encouraged by Bowen’s policy?

“The new Vehicle Efficiency Standard sets a fleet average limit for 2025 that ratchets down each year till 2029. Minister Bowen has announced a weakening of the starting limit, raising it from 199 g/Km to 210 g/Km putting it above even the gas guzzling Toyota Hilux. 

“This would give Toyota credit points for selling even gas guzzling Hiluxs as they already emit less than 210 g/Km. The credit points can be used to delay future action as limits are tightened. This is the car industry holding out its hand for a subsidy to continue business as usual in the first year of the scheme.

“The minister also took the retrograde step of reclassifying several large heavy vehicles into the Light Commercial group, giving them less strict emission controls. This reduces the overall effectiveness of the scheme and does nothing to limit the proliferation of large dangerous and overweight passenger cars on the road.”

DEA submitted its recommendations to the Cleaner, Cheaper to Run Cars: An Australian New Vehicle Efficiency Standard consultation by the federal government.

DEA highlighted in its submission that transport-related health issues impact all Australians.

Fossil fuelled transport is a major contributor to the climate emergency, releasing 21% of Australia’s greenhouse gasses.

More than half of air pollution in Australia is from traffic pollution for urban populations and this contributes to heart, lung, neurological, and other diseases. Children and those who are pregnant are especially vulnerable to air pollution.

Additionally, larger vehicles are responsible for a significant level of direct trauma resulting in death and disability especially from pedestrian injuries.

“DEA supported consultation paper option C as providing the greatest health and environmental benefits,” says Dr Ewald. “However we accepted Option B, as this would appear to be the most easily achievable in the short term. Instead, the Albanese government has settled on a delayed and much less ambitious proposal.

“We urge a stronger fuel efficiency standard that safeguards the health of all Australians, in particular our children who have the most to lose by the Government’s chosen option.”

About DEA

Doctors for the Environment Australia is a national group of doctors and medical students who believe we can’t have a healthy population without a healthy planet. Protecting the environment promotes public health at the most fundamental level.

Media contact

Carmela Ferraro, Media and Communications Lead- 0410 703 074 / [email protected]

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