SYDNEY, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- A new report from an Australian think tank has called for the country to join the rest of the world in introducing fuel efficiency standards, which they claim would save car-owners billions at the pump.
The report, released on Monday by the Australia Institute, estimated that if fuel efficiency requirements were introduced in 2015, an estimated 5.9 billion Australian dollars (about 4.09 billion U.S. dollars) could have been saved in fuel costs.
Richie Merzian, climate and energy program director at the Australian Institute, said Australia straggled behind the world when it came to fuel efficiency standards.
"We are still accepting gas guzzling cars with no emissions standards. This is costing commuters money at the petrol pump and holding Australia back from reducing our emissions," said Merzian.
Fuel efficiency standards establish the maximum liters per 100 kilometers or carbon dioxide intensity, CO2 emissions per kilometer (CO2/km), for all new cars.
In 2020, the European Union set fleet-wide standards of 95 grams of CO2/km for all new passenger cars. As of 2018, Australia's average CO2/km sits at nearly 170 grams, compared with 129.9 in the United States, 120.4 in Europe, and 114.6 in Japan.
Merzian added that, unlike Australia, the majority of the world's car markets had already mandated fuel efficiency standards which were bringing down average fuel consumption each year.
"These standards exist across 80 percent of the vehicle market but not in Australia despite numerous reports, inquiries and government commitments saying we need them."
Rising fuel prices born out of the global market shocks from the conflict in Ukraine have increasingly put pressure on Australian drivers.
In a bid to relieve this pressure, the Australian government cut fuel taxes by 50 percent at the end of March, however, this temporary policy is set to end next month.
The researchers said this was the perfect opportunity for the government to introduce a policy that would ultimately allow individuals to save on fuel-use.
The nation has faced similar challenges when it comes to the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs). In 2021 EV sales made just 1.95 percent of all car sales, far below the global share of nearly 10 percent, and EVs are an out-of-reach luxury for most Australians.
On Monday Australia's national body representing the EV industry, the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC), called for greater access to EVs.
EVC chief executive Behyad Jafari said that to reach net zero by 2050, Australia would need to increase its import of EVs.
"Cars in Australia have a 15-year average life span. If we're still selling a significant quantity of combustion engine vehicles in 2036 we fail on net zero. It's that simple."