Health advocates join calls for urgent action on ‘dangerous’ air pollution

The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) has joined advocates calling for a strong fuel efficiency standard to reduce the incidence of asthma, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, neurodegenerative disorders and premature deaths in Australia, in response to the federal government’s consultation on the Standard closing today.

CAHA joins other transport advocates in recommending a starting Standard limit of 95 grams of CO₂ per kilometre – competitive with the European Union –  by mid-2024. They recommend the Standard tightens over time and reaches zero grams of CO₂ per kilometre (meaning 100 per cent of new car sales are zero emissions) by no later than 2035. This will support Australia’s international commitments under the Paris Climate Accord, they say.

“A mandatory Fuel Efficiency Standard must ensure new vehicles emit fewer dangerous air pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions. This is an important first step towards a healthier transport system for all Australians,” CAHA CEO Roland Sapsford said.

“Right now, Australians are exposed to dangerous air pollution and an array of serious health conditions – particularly children. Exposure to transport-related air pollution may permanently stunt lung growth in children under 15 years, leading to other cardiopulmonary impacts throughout their lives.” 

Cleaning up new car exhausts is a key part of tackling illness from car and truck pollution. Urgent action must be taken on pollution from existing vehicles too, Mr Sapsford added.

“We know that there is no safe level of air pollution. There are clear links between fuel-related air pollution to heart and lung disease, neurodegeneration and premature deaths. The sooner the Standard limits manufacturers to zero emissions vehicles, the better.

“Australia is among the only developed nations in the world without a Fuel Efficiency Standard. If Australia is serious about achieving net zero by 2050, and realising the health benefits of climate action, the Commonwealth Government needs to put in place effective Fuel Efficiency Standards without delay.”

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