Private car users in Government sights as transport emissions continue to rise

Ian Bushnell 15 February 2019 170
Canberra Traffic

The Government wants more Canberrans to swap cars for the bus, light rail, or bike. File photo.

The ACT Government will target private car owners in a bid to reverse rising greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector, with private car use the biggest contributor.

Overall the ACT’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to fall, as more of the Territory’s electricity comes from renewable sources. But the transport sector stands apart as the next big challenge for the Government.

The ACT’s 2017-18 Greenhouse Gas Inventory report found that the ACT’s emissions fell 14 per cent over the year, but transport emissions rose 2.3 per cent on 2016-17 levels and now accounts for 34 per cent of all emissions.

By 2020, when the ACT will be powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity, transport will be Canberra’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, at more than 60 per cent.

Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury said the Government would be encouraging car users to consider other ways of getting around the city.

“The Government will focus on helping people to take sustainable modes of transport, like light rail, buses and active transport. We’re also looking to the community to work with us, to being open to trying new ways of moving around the city,” he said.

The Government is also encouraging the take-up of electric vehicles, with new charge points, and the transition of the Government fleet to ‘clean’ cars.

Mr Rattenbury said the other challenge was reducing reliance on natural gas, and eventually phasing out its use altogether. Natural gas emissions decreased by 4 per cent on 2016-17 levels, but it is still a major source of heating for many Canberrans.

“Natural gas emissions are already reducing, partly due to people switching to new highly efficient electric appliances for their home heating and cooking,” he said.

The report found a big drop in waste emissions, down 31 per cent from 2016-17, mainly due to an increase in the volume of landfill gas captured and burnt.

Electricity emissions fell 27 per cent on 2016-17 levels.

“The report shows the ACT continues to make great progress in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable electricity generation grew from 30 per cent to 49 per cent in 2017-18 as more of our wind farms came online,” Minister Rattenbury said.

He said the report showed that, with strong community support, the ACT can meet its emission goals.

The 2017-18 Greenhouse Gas Inventory is available at

What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
170 Responses to Private car users in Government sights as transport emissions continue to rise
Tempestas Tempestas 11:18 am 24 Feb 19

Here is a thought, given all the “but it is impossible for me to use PT or change travel mode because too hard, long difficult, not enough service etc”. How about we limit car use to one lane or one way on every road in Canberra that a bus uses or an on road cycle lane exists. That will serve to make car commutes more equal to other transport modes and allow us to speed up PT and cycling as well as add more PT services. To help pay for all the new PT we can triple rego fees & parking and limit all parking in town centres to 2 hour max.

If the proposal by govt was this anti-car, then you would have something to complain about. It isn’t – it is about targeting car users to change their transport mode where they can. Obviously that won’t work for every commute, but if it works for you at some time and you chose that other mode it will be good for all of Canberra.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:33 am 24 Feb 19

Yes JC, I saw that explanation about the pantograph/charging problem. The City to Woden section will have this set-up unless the government opt for the more expensive and complex induction system.

The re-introduction of trams in Sydney a few years ago also saw a lot of “teething” problems with CAF trams .

With you being the major defender for this unfolding disaster I am happier to be the cheerleader for the “I told you so” detractors.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 4:20 pm 22 Feb 19

The first week of Newcastle’s tram experiment (same as Canberra’s) a magnificent success:

    JC JC 5:11 pm 23 Feb 19

    One main difference is Newcastle runs in batteries and recharged at stops. And Lo and behold the article mentioned the problem with the second vehicle was with the pabtograph that is raised at stops to charge and the first also a charging issue.

    That said do you seriously think any project in the world will not have teething problems? I’m awaiting the glee from some here when the first operational breakdown occurs in the Canberra line. The comments will be along the lines see we told you all it was a bucket of poo. But after a few weeks it will all settle down and never heard from again.

Gordon Wood Gordon Wood 2:13 pm 22 Feb 19

What we need is a teleportation system run on green power. stargate/Star Trek not the fly style please!

Gordon Wood Gordon Wood 1:31 pm 22 Feb 19

Oh no here comes greater registration cost!

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 2:15 pm 22 Feb 19

    It would be better to have a congestion tax, rather than slug the occasional car used the same as the person who uses their car everyday. That would do more to encourage people to leave their car at home and take the bus, cycle, or walk to work (or combination), than increase registration and then people say I might as well drive; I'm paying enough in registration; need to make it worth it.

    Gordon Wood Gordon Wood 2:23 pm 22 Feb 19

    Julie Macklin lower registration costs and congestion tolls on major roads. I’d be happy with that as I do more driving in Sydney than Canberra

Thomas Hoffman Thomas Hoffman 7:53 am 22 Feb 19

Canberra is too spread out, and has too few customers, so public transport is always going to be a tough business case. To get people out of cars is going to require big, bold thinking and radical ideas- when parking is max $12 a day and the bus is $10, no one will chose this. So half the bus fare. Or better yet, make it free.

Cycling reduces congestion without having to spend big on infrastructure - so why not provide secure bike parking and a coffee voucher to those who use it? This will reduce congestion and can help support local business.

    Adrian Jay Adrian Jay 9:45 am 22 Feb 19

    Thomas Hoffman sounds like communist Victorian thinking to me! We don’t take kindly to such reasoned thinking around these parts - get back to pinko Melbourne!

    Reneé Nelson Reneé Nelson 6:01 pm 23 Feb 19

    I still would not catch public transport no matter the price because... there is none for me! And I have kids I need to move around!

    Thomas Hoffman Thomas Hoffman 6:15 pm 23 Feb 19

    Reneé Nelson and no one is forcing you to- good public transport benefits you. Reduced congestion, more parking availability

    Reneé Nelson Reneé Nelson 6:16 pm 23 Feb 19

    I bet they just raise the price of parking... again...

Garry Peadon Garry Peadon 6:54 am 22 Feb 19

Light rail 😂😂

Anna Gabriel Anna Gabriel 10:16 pm 21 Feb 19

Why take public transport in this city when a 15min car trip equals to a 45min -hour bus trip and 2 buses? I think I know which one I would take, even with paid parking. The public transport in this city is ridiculous. -Have less connections, less waiting time in-between buses if route must have a connection, more regular buses, everywhere not just the Rapids that finish at the malls, more bus routes so they don’t have to weave around as much, even more free/cheap parking near interchanges would help (then you don’t have to travel 5 mins by bus only to be forced off to wait another 15 mins or more for next bus) and make the bus trip closer to 20-30mins in length to help it match more closely to a 15 min car trip, then I may reconsider.

aussie2 aussie2 5:52 pm 21 Feb 19

Since my Combined Community Council Transport working Group made a submission to Government on Network14, and even longer, nothing has changed. One of the recommendations we made was to work with Resident Associations, Community Councils etc and Govt to meet with specific catchments to identify those factors which would convince Joe Public to mode shift. Currently, for at least the past 29 years it JUST TAKES TOO LONG to get anywhere. Get a commitment from residents to mode shift if government provide DIRECT ROUTES and you may get there. Until that happens, it will be more of the same. When I put the “joke” to Transport Staff-“what is the longest distance between two points-an ACTION bus service” they all laughed. They do not get it, even now, and despite Simon Corbell saying he wanted to compete with the car-nothing has changed. So Canberrans-let’s get the government to meet with us and tell them what we want. In fact, let’s make it an election issue as they won’t have resolved the issue by then anyway.

madelini madelini 5:01 pm 21 Feb 19

That’s nice, but there’s no public transport links to my place of work and my wage isn’t growing proportionate to cost of living increases, so I can’t afford a bike (let alone the time commitment).

    astro2 astro2 7:24 am 22 Feb 19

    If you can’t afford a bike then you certainly couldn’t afford a car (let alone the time commitment).

elliottalex elliottalex 10:30 pm 20 Feb 19

Couple of issues with this proposition by the Barr Government.

Firstly they state “The Government will focus on helping people to take sustainable modes of transport, like light rail, buses and active transport”. Well this is not true as they’ve cut many bus services and many more cuts yet to come.

I would gladly catch a bus each day if we actually had a decent system in Canberra. It takes me 15 minutes to drive to work. Catching a bus takes a minimum of an hour. I think that point is a major issue for many Canberrans.

Secondly Canberra has a lot of interstate drivers. Targeting what I assume will be ACT registered vehicles is unfair because it doesn’t address the issue of emissions made by the many interstate drivers that live and visit Canberra and all equally contribute to the issue.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:19 am 21 Feb 19

    The NBN contractors are doing suburbs in Tuggeranong now and I note all their vehicles are NSW registered as are a lot of vehicles doing work in Molonglo roadworks and all over Canberra for that matter.

    Large trucks involved in waste and recycling are also registered interstate despite them being operated exclusively in the ACT. These are the vehicles that knock the crap out of our roads but they pay nothing in return.

    Another police cop-out (pun intended).

    JC JC 5:47 pm 21 Feb 19

    Actually the government isn’t cutting bus services. They are reorganising the routes to make the quicker and more often, which in this town is the only viable way to make a decent bus service. The new timetable has 30 extra buses operating it.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:22 am 22 Feb 19

    Which bus service/s will you be using now, JC?

Tim Thornley Tim Thornley 10:30 pm 19 Feb 19

Why are so many people here talking about taking kids to schhol? When I was a kid i took myself. Walked to the bus and that when to my school. I had no issues.

Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 8:31 pm 19 Feb 19

People do more than go to and from work. Want to go down the coast for the weekend, maybe surfing or camping you not going to catch a bus. In Canberra THE CAR IS KING. Will be for the next hundred years.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:46 pm 19 Feb 19

“The Government is also encouraging the take-up of electric vehicles, with new charge points, and the transition of the Government fleet to ‘clean’ cars.”

Let’s hope that electric vehicles become very affordable (for people who have to buy and maintain a car from their own pocket, not from the ratepayers’ pockets) very quickly, because in the meantime, this campaign against vehicle emissions will be just another revenging-gouging jihad by the ACT Government against private vehicles.

If the Government truly wants to encourage “active transport” it should take a hard look at the sort of streetscapes which its planning rules are encouraging and allowing. Take, for example, a walk from the soon-to-be Civic tram terminus to the New Acton precinct. On days when the weather is less than idyllic (we do have them in Canberra), it’s quite bleak and harsh, with limited cover and not particularly accommodating to people with mobility issues – which might explain why most visitors to that area do it by car, and park as close as possible. It’s much the same throughout most of Canberra.

astro2 astro2 6:10 pm 19 Feb 19

Some very defensive posts here. It appears that, possibly due to a pretty silly headline for this article “Private car users in ACT Government sights…” there may have been a lot of knee-jerk reactions. The point wasn’t about banning private motor vehicle use but encouraging alternative forms of transport so that only those who need to use a PMV are on the road. This means 1) more space on the road, less congestion, less rear-ending due to frayed nerves. 2) more parking available without turning the entire city into a giant car park 3) healthier people, lower health budget costs, more available hospital beds, and 4) lower transport costs. According to the NRMA the average motor car trip is less than 8 kms so there’s a lot to work from there.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:20 pm 21 Feb 19

    “… that only those who need to use a PMV are on the road.”

    That’s me, and about three quarters of the rest of Canberra.

    This makes any support for your argument futile.

    astro2 astro2 9:09 pm 23 Feb 19

    no it doesn’t actually. You can own a car without having to make every trip around canberra in the car. Plenty of people do. I won’t make up a percentage as you have however it’s pretty clear plenty of people cycling. walking and catching a bus to work make the argument valid.

    TimboinOz TimboinOz 4:15 pm 23 Feb 19

    Really!? The public transport network is, in most cases unsuitable for commuting to and from work. Or can you not read and absorb information?

    The problems with the public transport system make it the main thing causing people to HAVE to use a car to get to the child care centre (OR the school’s one ) and /or to school and then to work. And back again.

    Witless support for a government with a responsible (?) Minister who just hate’s cars, isn’t going to cut it with most folk, in this town.

    IF this Labour/Green coalition had done anything effective to ensure all housing built for the last two decades were truly energy efficient I’d take them seriously, but they have not.

    ? the two big factors are i) orientation so that the dwelling gains heat on cold days and doesn’t gain a lot of heat on HOT days. ii) energy efficient construction. Neither have been effectively implemented.

    I began to seriously study and engage with energy efficiency, in the 1970s. Simply wanting stuff to change out of concern isn’t engagement, nor is it understanding.

    That was a Lake George post, so shallow it’s dry.

    astro2 astro2 9:16 pm 23 Feb 19

    Yep there’s some very defensive posts alright. I’m not sure whether you’re trying to discuss energy efficiency in buildings, the use of private motor vehicles or just that you don’t like the current ACT Government.

Chris Todd Chris Todd 12:36 pm 19 Feb 19

More electric vehicle charge points and tax exemption would see those vehicles taken up at a much higher rate

dukethunder dukethunder 12:06 pm 19 Feb 19

Clearly not a popular policy with Barr’s proletariat. Often wonder why the Liberals don’t get into the media with a counter position when the Government spews out unwarranted interventions such as this. Be seen as an opposition. Might get some votes

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:27 am 22 Feb 19

    The Liberals are incapable of developing a “counter position” and the media (CT and ABC) won’t give them the time of day to promulgate it.

    JC JC 8:04 am 24 Feb 19

    Being a bit harsh on the media there. They do publish the shrill that comes from the Libs. And I have no doubt they would publish a policy position from them if they had one.

Ceit Woodward Ceit Woodward 10:54 am 19 Feb 19

Or... increase the uptake of EV's through government rebates. But it's not about emissions is it... it's about money.

Brad Osborne Brad Osborne 8:28 am 19 Feb 19

So I'm supposed to get 60 to 80 litres of paint, ladders and tools on a bus??? You want us to leave the car at home and walk the kids to school, what time do you start work 11.30a.m. to finish at 2p.m. to reverse the schedule? This local government needs to step into the shoes of a regular Australian and wake up!

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:10 am 19 Feb 19

    You are just making yourself look silly. You know it's not about work vehicles. You just had to make a point that you have to know was wrong. So, what is your reason for this?

    Daria Sigma Daria Sigma 11:50 am 19 Feb 19

    Julie is right. There are many of us for whom it's impossible or impractical to use the bus or whathaveyou. But there are also those amongst who likely could handle using public transport more often than we do, if they/we are not dealing with large equipment, school times, etc, etc.

Jenna Gray Jenna Gray 6:26 am 19 Feb 19

Canberra has a terrible public transport system - and our bikes were stolen without any comeback - if they want us not to use cars they have to focus on improving things for for people who want to use alternative transport

« Previous 1 4 5 6

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Region Group Pty Ltd

Search across the site