CLIMATEWORKS Centre has outlined their recommended solutions for the decarbonisation of Australia’s freight and passenger transport in a new report.

Released last week, Decarbonising Australia’s transport sector claims that the Federal Government should adopt a “credible plan” in order to reduce transport emissions whilst improving efficiency and transport choice.

Climateworks Centre is a non-profit organization founded by Monash University. Its research focuses on climate action, and particularly advocating for an accelerated transition to net zero carbon emissions.

The centre has defined a “credible” plan as containing several key elements; using all available decarbonisaiton solutions per the avoid, shift, and improve (ASI) framework, supporting the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and one that achieves better outcomes for the transport system.

ASI is a process of environmental sustainability that aims to address and impact consumer behaviour to achieve the desired outcome.

In the context of the Climateworks report, they define the three desired ASI solutions as avoiding the need for some travel; shifting to lower-emissions modes of transport such as moving more freight by rail; and improving vehicle and fuel efficiency, such as more EV vehicles on the road and lower-carbon fuels.

The report made the case for shifting freight from road to rail and described a scenario in which 15% (articulated trucks) and 5% (rigid trucks) tonne kilometres gradually switch from trucks to rail by 2040. It said the transition timeline accounts for infrastructure in progress, such as inland rail, and provides a lead-in time to plan for this transition.

The report also urges against an over-reliance on an expected uptake in the sales of electric vehicles in Australia, instead suggesting the incorporation of diverse solution to keep emissions on track whilst also pushing for EV integration.

Climateworks claims that by modelling the projections for a hypothetical “slower’ EV uptake would cause transport emissions to blowout by 21% over the benchmark for 2030.

Based on the modelling, the report signposts that in order for Australia to successfully keep up with the 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming limit, three considerations should be applied to a hypothetical federal plan, to implement a portfolio of solutions so there is no single point of failure, take every opportunity to increase EV uptake from current levels, and consider additional benefits beyond emissions reduction when assessing different approaches to decarbonise transport.

The Climateworks report concludes with an emphatic appeal, “Good transport planning and decarbonisation planning go hand in hand, and solutions that increase transport choice, reduce congestion, and make travel more efficient and convenient are also solutions that reduce emissions”.