By the end of the decade, the sale of new petrol cars will be banned in at least seven countries from Singapore to Sweden and Israel to Iceland.

But that same year, fossil fuel vehicles will make up almost most of the new passenger cars sold in Australia, according to new figures.

By 2035, when the ban expands to another 13 nations, including the UK, Japan and Canada, petrol and diesel vehicles will still represent almost half of all new cars sold locally.

The forecasts have been revealed in a report on Australia’s future emissions and, according to experts, show the nation is on a dangerous trajectory that will see it miss its climate targets without changes in the transport sector.

Adoption of electric cars, they say, should be at least double the current projections and urgent changes are needed to help Australia and its motorists catch up to the rest of the world.

The transport predictions were revealed in a report from the federal department of climate change and energy last week, which estimated the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions up to 2035.

It found transport pollution had risen to make up 21 per cent of Australia’s total emissions this year and, without additional measures, would rise even further by 2030.

The main contributors to transport pollution, the report noted, will be cars and light commercial vehicles which are expected to have a bigger impact due to a growing population and the rising popularity of large SUVs.

Without changes to Australia’s automotive industry, emissions-saving electric vehicles will make up just 13 per cent of new car sales by 2026, 26 per cent by 2030 and 51 per cent by 2035.

Expectations are even lower for sales of electric utes and vans, which the report’s authors say will make up nine per cent of new vehicle sales by 2030 and 29 per cent in 2035.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner Lindsay Soutar says the forecasts prove the nation is not switching to low-emission technology fast enough and motorists will be left behind if the status quo is allowed to continue.

“It’s simply not good enough to expect Australians will still be buying millions of fossil-fuelled vehicles decades from now when clean, electric vehicles powered by homegrown wind and solar are fast becoming the norm in most parts of the world,” she says.

“Making these vehicles cheaper and more accessible should be the number one priority of the transport minister.”

Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari says the prediction that only one in four new cars will be electric in 2030 is particularly concerning as it should be twice as high.

“By 2030, well over half of the new cars sold should be electric,” he says.

“Markets like the US are aiming for something like 62 per cent of new cars sold being electric … and anything short (of 50 per cent) would be letting Australian consumers down.”

But Mr Jafari says Australians should still have hope the transport transition will succeed as the forecasts don’t include the impact of a fuel-efficiency standard.

Promised as part of the National Electric Vehicle Strategy in April, the standard would put a cap on emissions across a car maker’s fleet, encouraging them to bring more low-emission vehicles to Australia.

Transport Minister Catherine King promised to introduce a legal draft of the standard before the end of the year but has walked back from the timing, saying the government will take “the time to get the design right”.

Mr Jafari says the lack of an emissions cap on new cars means Australians are still missing out on models sold overseas or enough electric cars to meet demand.

“We know every year Australians are sitting on waiting lists for electric vehicles they want to buy and that consumers in other countries … get to enjoy and save money on petrol by driving them,” he says.

“These figures acknowledge there is a problem that needs to be fixed. The pressure is on for the government to very quickly introduce those standards.”

Energy Minister Chris Bowen says the federal government remains committed to introducing a standard and meeting its pledge to cut emissions by 43 per cent in 2030.

“We will have a fuel-efficiency standard and we are delivering one,” he says.

“We’ll have more to say about the details of that in the near future.”

Source: AAP