It’s been long established that transport contributes significantly to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore to global warming.
Right now, transport emissions comprise about one-quarter of total global greenhouse gases output. Most of this comes from car use, road freight, and aviation. Oil is the main fuel source for transport, and this fossil-fuel reliance continues to drive high emissions in the sector.
In NSW, fuel use in road transport accounts for 14% of emissions, with cars being the main means of transport (ABS 2010). A progressive, low-emissions transport policy in NSW is therefore absolutely essential to the whole state’s response to the dangers of climate change. Moving away from the car-dependent economy to one that supports public and active transport will improve people’s quality of life both in the short term and the long term.
Within its Environment and Sustainability Policy, Transport for NSW says that it aims “to use Transport’s energy sources more efficiently and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.” However, over the last few years we have seen transport in NSW go backwards as more urban motorways are being planned, and rail lines privatised and even ripped up. Active transport options such as cycling and walking are not being supported, as the government has failed to build – and is even removing – safe bike infrastructure.
The human health impacts of unsustainable transport, similarly, cannot be ignored. Cars emit huge amounts of air pollution, and when they are put into more tunnels (as is proposed in Sydney) this pollution is funnelled through exhaust stacks that spew toxic gases out into the community. A 2014 OECD report estimates that air pollution has become the biggest environmental cause of premature deaths across the world, with 50% of deaths from outdoor air pollution caused by road transport. Between 2005 and 2010, air pollution related deaths declined in most OECD countries, but increased by an alarming 68% in Australia.
The Greens plan would:
- Provide integrated, efficient, frequent and affordable public transport such as rail, buses, and light rail, so people can move away from car dependency;
- Shift more freight into rail, following investments in intermodal facilities and new tracks;
- Make rail competitive in comparison to air travel on domestic routes, by building High Speed Rail on the east coast of Australia;
- Encourage people to cycle and walk safely, by installing safe infrastructure such as separated cycleways and footpaths.