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© Rasulov/Dollar Photo Club

ENVIRONMENT

The Turnbull government announced in November that it is implementing a Ministerial Forum that will examine vehicle emissions standards in Australia and vehicle testing arrangements. The forum will be supported by a working group that will be asked to examine issues including the implementation of Euro 6, fuel quality standards, fuel efficiency measures (CO 2) for light vehicles and emission testing arrangements. However, the group will not have its draft implementation plan report ready until March 2017. The forum’s chair, Minister Paul Fletcher, said: “Presently we do not have the same levels of smog pollution in Australia that other countries face. Nevertheless, we must work hard to keep our air clean and reduce emissions that contribute to climate change by ensuring our new vehicles meet world’s best standards.”

Then enters the Trans-Pacific Partnership The TPP trade accord, after many negotiations in relation to intellectual property rights provisions, reached agreement in October. The TPP is designed to lower trade barriers and set new rules for investment, labour rights and the environment for a total of 12 countries including: Australia, United States, Japan, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam.

The Environment Chapter of the TPP is reported to be weak, with no mention of climate change, and encouraging rather than enforcing any regulation. However, it may have both positive and negative effects. On the negative side, it could slow down the development of unilateral environmental regulations, but on the positive side, it could force countries that are lagging behind in terms of the environment to catch up. Blair King from the Huffington Post in Canada has argued in one of his recent articles that historically on the negative side for trade agreements it was: “... like the wolf in the story Little Red Riding Hood, the protectionism is dressed up to look like it is intended to enhance environmental performance but under the covers hide regulations intended to harm foreign competitors, often without improving environmental performance in the least.” He sites a recent example of the case with the Korean emissions standards which did nothing to improve emission characteristics of cars on Korean roads but did a wonderful job of stopping the export of North American autos to Korea. Although the TPP won’t eliminate all trade barriers, it was reported in October 2015 that Australia’s free trade deal with Japan would mean the average price of a Japanese car will be between $750 and $1500 cheaper. But ClimateWorks said: “There is actually an ongoing way for the government to ensure all Australian motorists purchasing new vehicles can save money and that is by introducing best practice vehicle emission standards within the next two years. Most major economies in the world currently have vehicle emission standards in place but Australia has no standard, putting us in the company of Russia, Turkey, Iran and Brazil. As a result we are spending more on fuel than we should be. Recent analysis by ClimateWorks, in conjunction with Rare Consulting, found the introduction of best practice standards would provide significant benefits for consumers while also enhancing Australia’s fuel security and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. “The free trade deal with Japan only delivers a one-off savings that occurs upon the purchase of a Japanese car, whereas the introduction of standards could save Australian motorists $850 to $1200 every year on fuel costs,” said ClimateWorks Australia Acting Head of Engagement Scott Ferraro. But will the introduction of standards and regulations be enough? When you consider how easily and for how long a highly reputable German company like VW could dupe the world, are we are going to need more? We need to be able to ensure that claims are authentic, reproducible and reflect real-world use. Essentially, we may need to measure emissions from raw data rather than interpretations based on the data.

INSIGHTS 2016 17

Profile for Westwick-Farrow Media

Sustainability Matters Dec 2015/Jan 2016  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...

Sustainability Matters Dec 2015/Jan 2016  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...