By David Coleman
For Albury to play its part in combatting climate change, supporting clean and green transport throughout the community offers the best ‘bang for buck’ actions Council can take. Everyone’s health and prosperity will improve enormously if we slash the harm transport causes.
The transport sector contributes 21% of New South Wales greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is the fastest growing emissions source. You may be surprised to learn the co-benefits from cutting emissions in transport have ten-times the economic value of the GHG savings. These extra benefits are the reduced costs that society pays for negative side-effects of transport, such as toxic air pollution, noise, congestion, and accidents, among others.
These might seem like capital city problems, yet Albury has the country’s busiest highway running through the middle of town. Australian trucks are among the oldest of all OECD countries. They rely totally on fossil fuels and bring fumes, noise, traffic, and safety risks when passing through.
One thing Albury Council can do is buy electric vehicles (EVs) for its car and truck fleet and install re-charging stations that can be shared with the community and build local supplier capacity in these technologies to expand their services. Council can instruct its suppliers to use low emission waste trucks and contractor vehicles for Council contracts.
Another idea is for planning laws to support EV charging in new residential and commercial property development, along with clean hydrogen fuel and EV charging at petrol stations. Offering incentives such as rate discounts and priority parking can influence community uptake.
Albury is in a unique position to play a lead role in decarbonising Australian transport if it can get public and private investment on board. Being proactive in developing clean energy and refuelling infrastructure for Inland Rail, passenger trains, the airport, and trucks and buses serving capital cities from our key hub location in south east Australia will create positive impacts on people, jobs, and the environment that will multiply across our region and beyond.
In the Albury City 2050 Community Strategic Plan we can choose to control, influence, and even lead climate change action in the transport sector.