Fossil fuels to power vehicles to 2050

Thursday, 05 June, 2008

At the Climate Change Summit being held in Canberra, the director general of the world’s peak motoring body, David Ward told the Australian Automobile Association that there were still major oil reserves and this would continue to be the major vehicle fuel through to 2050.

The summit, On the Road to Greener Motoring, heard a number of speakers discussing the Climate Change challenge and the best way to bring down vehicle emissions.

The AAA meeting was told that while passenger vehicles only accounted for less than 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions, Australia’s motoring clubs were ready to be a part of the solution on behalf of more than 6.5 million motoring members.

Ward told the summit that despite the high prices and concerns about oil reserves, “there are still a lot of barrels out there”.

“Frankly, I think the concerns about dwindling oil reserves are exaggerated. The key issue is extraction — getting it out,” Ward said.

That view was challenged by BP’s biofuels project director, Frank Russell, who said it was important to be developing alternative and next-generation fuels.

“Australia’s conventional fuels are about as clean as they are ever going to get — so we need to start planning now for next-generation fuels like hydrogen,” Russell said.

Several speakers highlighted the important role of government and industry in achieving reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The AAA clubs supported the federal government’s Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme, as long as this was conditional on reform of fuel taxes and motoring-related costs, with all sectors included in the trading scheme. The summit was told the AAA does not want to see carbon prices added to existing fuel excise.

An emissions trading scheme was also endorsed at the summit by the Australian Trucking Association.

The AAA issued a Summit Communique which highlighted issues raised during the day and some activities the AAA clubs were undertaking to lower emissions.

As a consequence of the national climate change summit, the Australian Automobile Association commits to:

  • encourage motorists to take into consideration impact on the environment when making choices about travel and destination;
  • encourage motorists to buy ‘best in class’ vehicles, which could reduce total car emissions by some 25%;
  • promote the need for reform of fuel taxation and road charging arrangements to make them fairer and more equitable, ahead of the introduction of an emissions trading scheme;
  • persuade government to supplement an emissions trading scheme with efforts to accelerate market penetration of new environmental technologies by offering fiscal incentives to persuade consumers to buy vehicles, fuels or components that reduce CO2 and toxic emissions, and promote fuel economy;
  • encourage governments to show leadership by making use of less-polluting vehicles and offsetting carbon emissions from government fleets;
  • insist that governments address congestion in our major cities, to reduce greenhouse emissions and improve productivity through provision of an integrated transport network, including improved public transport, and associated policies;
  • engage with vehicle manufacturers to fast-track the introduction of more fuel-efficient vehicles and technologies such as hybrid-electric drive trains, new-generation diesel and petrol engines and also fuel cell vehicles;
  • AAA recommends the adoption of a non-mandatory fuel economy target of 140 gCO2/km for all passenger cars, which is consistent with the FIA’s Make Cars Green declaration; and
  • engage with fuel manufacturers and distributors in the promotion of cleaner forms of petrol and diesel as well as alternative fuels like LPG.

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