Australia on road to ban on high-polluting vehicles with stricter emissions standards

New fuel and emission standards will take some high-polluting vehicles off Australian roads.

New fuel and emission standards will take some high-polluting vehicles off Australian roads. Photo: Getty

Some high-polluting vehicles will be banned from sale in Australia and fuel additives will be cut under federal government changes to fuel and emissions standards.

The new rules, revealed on Thursday, will come into effect in December 2025 and will force automakers to ensure new vehicles meet Euro 6d noxious emissions standards, cutting pollution.

The standard will also result in changes to one type of petrol sold in Australia to ensure the new generation of vehicles can be used.

The Euro 6d rules, first introduced in 2021, are applied in most major car markets including Europe, US, Canada, UK, Japan, China, Korea and India.

The announcement comes more than one year after the federal government launched a public consultation into fuel quality standards, and after a study found more than 11,000 Australians die prematurely each year from transport emissions.

Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen said the changes were overdue and would deliver $6.1 billion worth of savings in health and fuel costs by 2040.

“These updates to our vehicle standards will see almost 18 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions cut from the transport sector by 2050, equivalent to taking 280,000 cars off the road,” he said.

The changes will mean new vehicle models launched in Australia from December 2025 will need to comply with strict limits on emissions of nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter.

Fuel suppliers will also need to reduce the amount of aromatic hydrocarbons added to RON 95 petrol to ensure it can be used by the fuel-efficient vehicles.

Transport Minister Catherine King said the changes would give motorists greater access to cleaner vehicles, and would provide widespread health benefits to the community.

“Tightening Australia’s noxious emissions standards will prevent deaths caused by toxic air pollution,” she said.

“Noxious emissions contribute to strokes, respiratory illnesses and cancer.”

A study from the University of Melbourne, released earlier this year, found vehicle emissions could cause 11,105 premature deaths each year, as well as 12,210 cardiovascular hospitalisations and 66,000 active asthma cases.

Climate Council advocacy head Jennifer Rayner welcomed the announcement but said the government also needed to deliver fuel-efficiency standards to encourage automakers to import low-emission and electric vehicles.

“Tighter fuel quality and noxious emissions standards do half the job of cleaning up our cars,” Dr Rayner said.

“The other half is fuel efficiency standards to also cut harmful carbon pollution.”

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Tony Weber said car brands also supported Euro 6d regulations to bring Australia into line with the rest of the world.

“This change moves fuel to be closer to international standards,” he said.

“This is a necessary step to lower emissions from Australia’s light vehicle fleet and allow cleaner vehicles to be brought to Australia.”

Transport emissions made up 21 per cent of Australia’s total emissions in 2023, according to government figures, with cars and light commercial vehicles the biggest contributors.

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