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

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170 Responses to Private car users in Government sights as transport emissions continue to rise
Lisa Kramarzewski Lisa Kramarzewski 7:53 pm 18 Feb 19

Try poor bus routes for school kids (lack of dedicated routes for school children only) and the need for dedicated car seats for children 7 years and below. Many people live in Canberra without grandparents close by to do the before and after school/ daycare run

Joan Cornish Joan Cornish 8:21 pm 18 Feb 19

Riding one day a week is a great start for those not doing drop offs and pick ups. It does take a change in mindset… But once you start you will never want to stop. You get fit and arrive feeling refreshed relaxed and happy!

Brian Reilly Brian Reilly 8:25 pm 18 Feb 19

It's going to be good to be able to meet up with politicians on public transport each morning. I look forward to it the next time I'm there.

    Arthur Potter Arthur Potter 2:19 pm 20 Feb 19

    Unlikely they will give up their free car spaces at the assembly. You know, one rule for us, one rule for them

    Brian Reilly Brian Reilly 2:21 pm 20 Feb 19

    Arthur Potter agree.

Reneé Nelson Reneé Nelson 8:43 pm 18 Feb 19

I have a number of reasons why I chose to drive but the best reason is it's my choice!

Michael Drew Michael Drew 8:54 pm 18 Feb 19

Here is a radical idea for the Labour and Green crowd, progressively triple the cost of rego under the guise it will make everything more environmentally friendly.

Craig Elliott Craig Elliott 9:15 pm 18 Feb 19

Still big gaps that need plugging in the cycleway....and maintenance on existing ones

Stephen Esdaile Stephen Esdaile 9:19 pm 18 Feb 19

And yet there are no jobs in Gungahlin and the trip to Civic from outlying suburbs on public transport will often add two hours to a working day. No thanks.

Jim Jim Jim Jim 10:45 pm 18 Feb 19

Light rail? You mean the Gungahlin train? It doesn’t service the rest of Canberra.

Bee Haych Bee Haych 11:08 pm 18 Feb 19

Get angry or vote act liberals.

Sue Foster Sue Foster 11:55 pm 18 Feb 19

All the ACT goverment officials should take public transport for a month and see if they think it's working.

Garry Drennan Garry Drennan 12:45 am 19 Feb 19

Thunderstorms offset emissions too .

Janet Hurley Janet Hurley 6:14 am 19 Feb 19

The one bus service I might use, the xpresso, is going to be axed so I doubt I’ll be using the buses regularly.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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