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After California’s recent decision to impose a ban on gas-powered passenger cars by 2035, and bold emissions comments from China at the UN General Assembly it leaves Australia scrambling to catch up with a rapidly expanding push for global climate action.

Californian Governor Gavin Newsom said late last month that he would step up the state’s already aggressive efforts to combat climate change amid a record wildfire season.

“We are marking a new course,” he said.

“For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. You deserve to have a car that doesn’t give your kids asthma.”

Meanwhile in an address delivered remotely to the United Nations General Assembly, President Xi Jinping described the Paris Agreement on climate change as charting “the course for the world to transition to green and low-carbon development.”

“We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060,” he said in the address.

How does Australia compare?

Businesses will be offered incentives to invest in new electric car fleets as part of the Morrison government’s push towards net-zero emissions beyond 2050.

Next week’s federal budget will include a $74.5 million package to assist businesses trial new technology for fleets – including hydrogen, electric and biofuelled vehicles – and install charging infrastructure at workplaces nationwide.

“Instead of toying with the idea of punishing people for buying electric vehicles by charging them additional taxes, the rational thing for the government to do would be to pull out all the stops to encourage transport electrification,” Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said.

“But slamming the brakes on electric vehicles, when they are capable of delivering so much economic benefit, would be an extremely stupid policy.”

New research backs up Jafari’s points – with data suggesting that EVs actually benefits tax revenue rather than diminish it.

The new report argues, replacing a petrol of diesel car with an EV will deliver a $1,370 benefit to government revenues, and an $8,763 net benefit to the economy over a ten-year life span.

The analysis shows the average Australian electric vehicle driver already pays more tax (spread across federal and state charges) than a combustion engine driver, while not paying the fuel excise.

“You often hear this idea that when someone replaces their petrol engine vehicle with an electric car they reduce their tax, because they don’t pay the fuel excise anymore,” Mr Jafari said.

“This analysis blows that argument out of the water.”

Country by Country List

Here is how Australia sits in comparison to the rest of the world for progress on this key issue.

Country Ban announced Status and proposed commencement Scope of the ban Details
Australia N/A N/A N/A N/A
Austria 2016 2020 (government plan) Non-electric New vehicle sales
Belgium 2020 2030-35 Diesel, Petrol New diesel sales (2030), petrol sales (2035).
Canada 2017 2040 (climate plan) Diesel, petrol, hybrid New vehicle sales
China 2020 2060 Diesel, petrol New car sales
Costa Rica 2019 2050 Diesel, petrol New car sales
Denmark 2018 2030–35 Diesel, petrol New vehicle sales (2030), all vehicle use (2035).
Egypt 2018 2040 ICE New vehicle sales
France 2017 2040 (climate plan) Diesel, petrol New car sales
Germany 2016 2030 (Bundesrat decision) Diesel, petrol, hybrid New car sales
Iceland 2018 2030 (climate plan) Diesel, petrol New car sales
India 2017 2030 (government target) Non-electric All vehicles
Ireland 2019 2030 (government bill) Diesel, petrol New car sales
Israel 2018 2030 Diesel, petrol New imported vehicles
Netherlands 2017 2030 (coalition agreement) Diesel, petrol All cars
Norway 2017 2025 (tax and usage incentives) Diesel, petrol All cars
Singapore 2020 2040 (incentives on electric vehicles) Diesel, petrol All vehicles
Slovenia 2017 2030 (emission limit of 50 g/km) Diesel, petrol New car sales
Spain 2018 2040 ICE New vehicle sales
Sri Lanka 2017 2040 Diesel, petrol All vehicles
Sweden 2018 2030 (coalition agreement) Diesel, petrol New car sales
Taiwan 2017 2040 Diesel, petrol All bus use (2030), all motorcycle sales (2035), all car sales (2040).
United Kingdom 2020 2035 (hybrid) Diesel, petrol, hybrid New car sales
United States (California) 2020 2035 Diesel, petrol, hybrid New car sales

Note: Country targets listed above subject to ongoing policy announcements.