Travel clean

Take pollution out of transport. Save our health and climate with more accessible buses and trains running on clean energy, make electric vehicles cheaper and install electric vehicle charging stations across the country.

The challenge

Transport is one of Australia’s largest sources of climate pollution. It’s also the third highest household expense after housing and food.

Continued reliance on petrol and diesel fuelled road transport drives air and noise pollution in our cities, inactivity, stress, and exacerbates inequalities.

Australia has one of the world’s most emissions-intensive road vehicle fleets ¹ and Australian cities have very low shares of travel by public transport, cycling and walking.

Other countries are setting targets to rapidly scale up electric vehicles and sustainable transport solutions like public transport, cycling and walking, and setting dates to ban petrol and diesel vehicle sales.

Sixteen countries (and major economies like California) have announced plans to ban the sale of fossil fuelled vehicles. ² Thirty-five global cities will only buy zero emissions buses from 2025, including London, Los Angeles, Austin, Auckland and Moscow.

Car companies are phasing out fossil fuelled cars — Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Bentley and Mini have made commitments to only make electric vehicles by 2030. ³

At around 0.6% of new vehicles sold each year, Australia’s uptake of electric vehicles lags behind Norway (56%), China (5%), the United Kingdom and New Zealand (3%).

The opportunity

Sustainable, zero emission transport solutions are available today and are the future.

Australia needs to accelerate the rollout of electric cars, trucks and buses and invest in infrastructure and services to support a
shift to more sustainable travel modes like public transport, cycling, walking and rail and electric or renewable hydrogen powered freight.

Solutions include:

  • Shifting to renewable powered electric vehicles — cars, trains, trams, buses and trucks.
  • Improving infrastructure and services to encourage passengers to shift from private car trips to public transport, cycling and walking.
  • Shifting freight from trucks onto rail and transitioning the truck fleet to electric or renewable hydrogen fuel.
  • Prioritising sustainable, zero emissions transport in infrastructure and land use strategies as well as infrastructure project decisions and funding.
  • Supporting the development of solutions for air, shipping and long-haul transport (such as electric vehicles, renewable fuels and more efficient alternatives).

How to make the change

Take pollution out of transport. Save our health and climate with more accessible public transport running on clean energy; make electric vehicles more affordable and install electric vehicle charging stations across the country.

Tests of success

  • Governments commit to zero emissions transport by 2035, including transitioning to renewable powered electric vehicles and more efficient transport by investing in public and active transport like walking and cycling and electrified freight rail.
  • Governments set targets for:
    • electric vehicle uptake for government fleets and private vehicles
    • banning the sale of petrol and diesel fuelled vehicles
    • increasing mode share for public and active transport
    • improving the ratio of rail to road funding.
  • Governments and investors to align infrastructure, transport and urban planning strategies, project decisions and budgets to zero emissions transport by 2035.
  • Governments ensure all suburbs and all people have equitable access to affordable, reliable and frequent public transport services to improve employment, educational, cultural and community opportunities.


  • Cut Australia’s climate pollution by around 100 million tonnes a year. 
  • Create jobs in public transport infrastructure and services and local manufacturing of electric buses, trams, trains and cars. Public and active transport infrastructure investment can generate 12,000 jobs and expanding the electric vehicle charging network can generate 500 jobs over a three-year period. 
  • Reduce transport costs, congestion and harmful air and noise pollution.

Case study

New South Wales streets ahead with electric bus transition target

New South Wales (NSW) has committed to transitioning its entire 8,000 fleet of buses to electric by 2030. The roll out has begun, with 120 electric buses expected in 2021, some being manufactured locally.

The state has also set a target for all Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink rail to run on zero emissions electricity by 2025. Its NorthWest Metro rail project is already powered by the Beryl Solar Farm.

In its electric vehicle strategy, the state has outlined a fleet of measures to fast-track electric transport, including:

- $490 million to encourage households to buy electric vehicles through tax cuts and incentives.

- New charging infrastructure for public and private electric vehicles.

- A target to transition the NSW government’s passenger vehicle fleet to fully electric by 2030.

- Support for local councils and businesses to buy electric vehicles. The NSW government has also emphasised the health, environmental and social benefits of shifting travel from private vehicles to public transport, walking and cycling.





⁴ (note: reference is to 2019 transport emissions, which is more representative than 2020 due to temporary covid-19 drop)