"No safe level of air pollution": Health advocates join calls for a strong Fuel Efficiency Standard

Wednesday 31 May 2023

Health advocates are 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 government's consultation 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.

CAHA CEO Roland Sapsford said, “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.

“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. We also need urgent action on pollution from existing vehicles.

“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.”

Available for interview

  • Roland Sapsford, 0432 368 850
  • Associate Professor Lou Irving0407 847 384
    Respiratory Physician at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, the Director of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine and Director of Clinical Training at the Royal Melbourne Hospital

Community case study

Maribyrnong Truck Action Group member and Yarraville resident Glen Yates says since moving to the area, 14 years ago, his asthma has worsened to the point where he and his family have four air filters running continuously inside their home.

Mr Yates said he was diagnosed with asthma in 2021, but had no history of the illness before that.

“I also was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism in my left lung, so 2022 was a year of medical tests.

“Previously, I have had no health issues, but it seems to have snow-balled quickly,” he said.

Mr Yates said the Maribyrnong City Council called a health emergency on May 16, due to the number of road trains breaking the time curfew, which undermined the council’s ability to protect its residents from air pollution, caused by too many cars and trucks with high emissions.

“Even the council agrees the high rates of illness in the area, higher than other municipalities, is due to the air pollution from cars and trucks,” he said.

Available for interview

  • Glen Yates, 0447 520 058

Media contact: Sally Spalding, 0401 184 986, [email protected]