Technology the most potent weapon against emissions

Government agencies' forum report identifies biodiesel as having the greatest impact, followed by engine efficiency, electric propulsion and eco-driving, while modal shift to rail also scores

September 28, 2012

Technology will have to do the heavy lifting for the transport sector to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in line with Federal policy, a report by government technical and scientific bodies has found.

And the report finds $5 billion to $10 billion in public and private spending needed to implement the broader transport sector abatement options it identifies.

The Greenhouse gas abatement potential of the Australian transport sector report is a collation of the findings of the Australian Low Carbon Transport Forum (ALCTF), a partnership formed 14 months ago between Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and ARRB Group, formerly the Australian Road Research Board, and the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE).

The transport sector is the second largest greenhouse gas emission contributing sector in the economy at 16 percent of national emissions, just above agriculture at 15 percent, though dwarfed by the electricity sector at 53 percent..

Consequently, the sector will need to make a significant contribution to the abatement target.

The report focuses on the quantity of abatement achievable rather than the cost and includes upstream emissions as well as exhaust.

However, it draws some broad conclusions about likely cost, challenges and uncertainties. Almost 50 abatement options are included.

The report concentrates on three general strategies:

  • reduce the emission intensity of transport fuels
  • improve the fuel efficiency of transport so that less fuel is required
  • reduce the amount of transport required to meet society’s needs.

For vehicle and fuel technology in trucks, the report found the use of biodiesel would have the greatest abatement potential, at about 15 million carbon dioxide-equivalent tonnes, followed by engine efficiency at about 5 million tonnes, with electric trucks and
regenerative braking at about 2 million tonnes and low rolling resistance tyres at less than 1 million tonnes.

In the regulatory sphere, the use of higher productivity vehicles and Performance Based Standards were seen to have some effect.

On the freight side, mode shift from road to rail sat at about 4 million tonnes and road and rail to sea about 2 million tonnes, with eco-driving assessed at about the same.

The report acknowledges important uncertainties, particularly surrounding the public and industry response to abatement efforts.

The report can be found here:

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