The following article originally published by theage.com.au discusses calls for the Victorian Government to introduce a tax for high-emission vehicles in Melbourne’s CBD.
A leading transport expert is urging the Victorian government to consider a London-style tax where motorists in high-polluting vehicles would have to pay to drive through Melbourne’s CBD.
London’s ultra low emissions zone was introduced last year to reduce pollution and emissions and encourage the uptake of cleaner modes of transport such as electric cars.
The call for Victoria to consider the London model comes after The Age revealed this week that electric car sales in Australia have tripled but still lag far behind many countries in Europe.
The Grattan Institute’s transport and cities program director, Marion Terrill, said the Andrews government should look to London’s scheme as an option for increasing the use of low-emissions vehicles such as electric cars.
She said the emissions charge should come on top of a congestion charge in the CBD that could apply to motorists in the Hoddle Grid, Docklands, Southbank and the Queen Victoria Market.
London introduced its ultra low emission zone in April, which will be extended in the coming two years.
“I think it is an option for them,” Ms Terrill said. “In London they’re doing it because of toxic air pollution and emissions. It’s one option that governments can use to reflect the fact that some cars do create more pollution and emissions than others.”
In London the £12.50 ($24) daily charge applies to diesel vehicles and other cars that fall short of emissions standards.
The charge is applied using licence plate recognition technology. Vans, trucks, buses and motorbikes are also subject to the charge.
The state government confirmed it has no plans to introduce an ultra-low emissions zone. It has also previously ruled out a congestion tax.
However, a government spokeswoman said electric cars were crucial to reducing Victoria’s emissions.
“We are getting Victoria ready for a strong uptake in zero emissions vehicles,” she said. “We’re investing in Australia’s fastest electric vehicle charging network.”
Research conducted by Infrastructure Victoria showed that a fleet made up of all electric vehicles would eliminate 27 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2046, delivering $735 million in health benefits.
Infrastructure Victoria deputy chief executive Jonathon Spear urged the Victorian government to press the Commonwealth to introduce stricter vehicle emissions targets.
“While internationally people are calling for bans on petrol vehicles, we think that a phased approach with clear targets introduced and increased over time brings greater certainty to the market,” he said.
“These targets should be introduced incrementally and coincide with changes in the Victorian energy sector and a move to renewable energy.”
The federal government is currently developing a National Electric Vehicle Strategy, which is set to be completed by the end of the year.
In Victoria there are 403 electric vehicle charging stations with a further 31 expected to be built by the end of the year.
A consultation paper released by the state government in December cited “range anxiety” – the fear of running out of electricity before reaching a charging station – as an impediment to electric cars.
Although the take up has been slow in Australia, electric cars are increasing in popularity.
Figures from the Electric Vehicle Council released this week showed that 6718 electric cars, including hybrid plug-ins, were sold across the country last year, compared with 2216 in 2018.
The state government wants to encourage the take up of electric cars in its bid to achieve its target of zero net greenhouse emissions by 2050.