Skip navigation

A Better Future for Australia's Transport Sector

The transport sector is the third largest and fastest-growing sector for carbon emissions in Australia. Currently, we are home to the world’s most polluting road vehicle fleets, freight rail, aviation and shipping industries. Light-duty vehicles such as cars, as well as light commercial vehicles such as utes and vans are the main contributors - accounting for 62% of all transport emissions. Insufficient public transport adds to our carbon footprint.

The good news is that action from local, state and territory governments, businesses and investors to cut emissions and build resilience is growing. This is sending a strong signal to governments that the global economy is moving towards a healthier, more liveable future. Globally, we now have nearly 40% of major medium and heavy goods vehicle manufacturers signing up to the UN Race to Zero. Major vehicle manufacturers like Ford, Volvo and Nissan have now committed to zero-emissions sales by 2040. Further, a quarter of major bus makers have also joined with a commitment to zero-emissions sales by 2030.

At the Glasgow Climate Conference in November 2021, Australia joined the UK Sector Breakthroughs for four carbon emitting sectors - including Road Transport. Through this initiative, Australia is committed to taking steps towards making clean technologies and sustainable solutions affordable, attractive and accessible options by 2030. This means that Australia is committed to a vision for zero-emissions vehicles as the new norm by 2030. See the UN Climate Champions’ Vision for more information.

With a growing field of research focused on decarbonising the transport sector, increasing advocacy in this space and Australia’s support for the Road Transport Sector Breakthrough, we now have an opportunity to shift to zero-emissions transport in a way that creates more jobs as well as a cleaner and healthier economy.

A number of Better Futures Australia’s sector working groups, in particular local councils, are looking to scale action on the ground and support policy interventions this year to help create zero-emissions transport systems across the nation.

A transport decarbonisation scoping study was undertaken in early 2022 to outline key interventions at a state and federal level. This scoping study includes opportunities for members of the Better Futures Australia community to work with the new government to shift our transport sector onto a 1.5℃ trajectory.

Panelists discussed opportunities in detail at the transport policy dialogue, 28 April 2022.

View the Policy Dialogue recording 

A summary of the full report prepared by Audrey Quicke (The Australia Institute) and Rachel Lynskey (Climateworks Centre) is available below and downloadable here.