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Community panel looks to drive down Victoria’s vehicle emissions

Ways to speed up Victoria’s switch to low and zero emissions vehicles have been identified in the state’s largest ever deliberative engagement [i] program, commissioned by Infrastructure Victoria.

A community panel of 211 Victorians took part in a month-long virtual workshop series to answer the question of: “How should the Victorian Government support more people to adopt low or zero-emissions vehicles sooner?”

The panel has delivered 21 recommendations for Victoria’s independent infrastructure advisory body to consider in supporting this transition, such as advocating for government fleets to use electric cars which could create a second-hand market with lower prices.

The panel also recommended ending the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030.

Infrastructure Victoria Chief Executive Michel Masson said community experience and insight was critical in informing the state’s infrastructure needs and priorities, and the basis for the Tackling Victoria’s Transport Emissions deliberative engagement program.

“Victoria will not reach its emissions reduction targets unless more people shift away from petrol and diesel vehicles, but this transition needs to be planned, fair and equitable,” Mr Masson said.

“Transitioning to zero emissions vehicles is likely to have the single most significant impact on reducing Victoria’s transport emissions, and while other countries have experienced the benefits of this, the technology is still relatively new in Australia.

“Reducing Victoria’s transport emissions is vital, especially when car use in inner Melbourne is now at risk of surpassing pre-COVID levels by 100,000 extra trips a day. Vehicle emissions were being driven in the wrong direction before COVID, and we need to turn this around as our modelling shows the state will have an extra 10.2 million vehicle trips [ii] per day within the next thirty years,” he said.

“To understand how we make the change to zero emissions vehicles, we went straight to the source and reached out to everyday Victorians for their views, experiences, and opinions. This process revealed that reducing or off-setting purchase costs is important but there are many more opportunities, in fact the panel’s top five recommendations explored ideas beyond financial incentives to encourage a greater uptake of low and zero emissions vehicles.”

The 21 recommendations developed by the community panel, which met the panel’s threshold of at least 70% endorsement by participants, include:

  • Deliver a broad community awareness and education campaign
  • End the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030
  • Introduce planning controls that require new developments to install charging infrastructure
  • Provide financial incentives to individuals to support the initial transition to low or zero emissions vehicles
  • Provide electric vehicle charging stations at activity and town centres
  • Advocate to local governments to change their fleets to electric vehicles

The program ran from 25 January to 18 February 2021 and saw panel members participate in multiple webinars and workshops to build their knowledge and discuss different views and ideas with each other, before voting on the final recommendations.

The panel was recruited through an advertised Expressions of Interest process, from which members were selected to represent Victoria’s diverse population of cultural backgrounds, ages, incomes, genders, postcodes and housing types.

“Genuine community engagement should reflect Victoria’s diversity, and panel members were encouraged to use an equity and fairness lens when considering the impact of their recommendations,” Mr Masson said.

“I want to thank the panel members for their time in identifying and addressing the community’s concerns such as cost, awareness, range, charging technology, battery life and market share.

“We will assess the recommendations, drawing on additional evidence and research to inform our advice to government on this complex matter as part of the update to Victoria’s 30-year Infrastructure Strategy.”

Deliberative panels generally have around 45 participants. Infrastructure Victoria’s low emissions vehicles deliberative program is believed to be the largest of its kind ever undertaken in Victoria.

Mr Masson said: “Continuing to innovate and enabling more Victorians to influence the development of Infrastructure Victoria’s advice to government further demonstrates our commitment to meaningful community and stakeholder engagement.”

The deliberative engagement program was facilitated by Capire Consulting Group. You can view the full list of recommendations and findings in Capire’s report on the deliberative program’s scope and process: www.infrastructurevictoria.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Tackling-Transport-Emissions-Community-Panel-Report-April-2021.pdf

Infrastructure Victoria will respond to the recommendations by way of a report that forms part of the update to Victoria’s 30-year Infrastructure Strategy which will be released mid-2021.

Quotes attributable to panel member Daniel, from Melbourne

“Electric vehicles represent an exciting and vital frontier that Victorians need to explore for the sake of our environment.”

“To have the ability to fact-check, question and learn alongside a diverse group was a really worthwhile opportunity to grapple with potential challenges, such as cost and accessibility, and to think from different perspectives.”

“The insights we gained from experts and electric vehicles owners were really helpful, but it was far from a spoon-feeding process.”

“The efforts that we all put into reading and raising questions and possible solutions reflected what a people-led democratic process should look like.”

“It was great to be part of a process that I hope will continue to expand and improve in all sectors and at all levels of government.”

Fast Facts

  • If there were only zero emission vehicles on Victorian roads, it would eliminate around 27 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2046 and deliver over $706 million in health benefits to Victorians in the same year [iii]
  • Victoria has experienced an 18.4% increase in emissions from cars since 1990
  • By 2051, more than 30 million transport trips are expected to occur in Victoria with 90% of them made by private vehicle [iv]

Footnotes

[i] Deliberative engagement refers to a process by which a diverse group of people is selected to meet regularly over a specified period to learn about and deliberate on a particular topic before coming to a group decision at the program’s conclusion. Members are selected through an independent process to ensure they are representative of the diversity and demographic of the general population. As referenced in the new Victorian Local Government Act 2020, deliberative engagement it is a tool used to support democracy and provide elected representatives with well-informed advice on complex issues.

[ii] Arup (2020), Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy Update Problem Definition Modelling Outcomes, report for Infrastructure Victoria

[iii] Infrastructure Victoria (2018), Advice on Automated and Zero Emissions Vehicles Infrastructure

[iv] Arup (2020), Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy Update Problem Definition Modelling Outcomes, report for Infrastructure Victoria

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