Shared EV mobility the key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Shared EV mobility the key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Shared EV mobility the key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Personal transport in Australia is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions with cars and light commercial vehicles making up more than 60 per cent of Australia’s transport greenhouse gas impacts

It’s clear that to meet our ambition of net zero emissions by 2050, we will need to make significant changes. But are we ready to shift to more sustainable ways of moving ourselves around?  

Research by Chalaka Fernando, a PhD graduand in The Australian National University (ANU) School of Engineering, suggests that we are more likely to opt for carpooling than other forms of emissions-saving efforts.

His study uses system dynamics and life cycle assessment modelling to assess the environmental impact of shifting to shared mobility (e.g. carpooling), shifting from diesel or petrol to electric vehicles (EVs), and shifting from smaller cars to Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs). Importantly, his research integrates consumer preferences into the assessment to quantify the life cycle environmental impacts; the first time that this has been done.

Fernando looked at the preferences of 3,000 American commuters making their round trip to work; the most frequent and increasing journey type. He found that while people are concerned about the environment and global warming, they are reluctant to make the switch to EVs.

“Consumer adoption is slower for electric vehicles with people preferring the larger SUVs. Hence, a value-action gap exists in the transition to greenhouse gas-friendly mobility choices.”

Fernando’s research shows that people are more likely to consider shared mobility, citing savings in cost and time, rather than switching to EVs.

The Australian context

Adoption of EVs in Australia is also much lower compared to other developed countries with EV sales making up around 2 per cent of the new cars purchased in 2021. Cost and a lack of charging infrastructure are often seen as the obstacles.

In looking at how we can move to more sustainable travel, Fernando believes that it’s important that we integrate consumer preferences in our planning, and to look at ways to facilitate pooling and promote the benefits of shared mobility.

“Pooling is the easiest way to start tackling personal mobility greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

While Fernando’s modelling shows that we can substantially reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by electrifying our fleet and carpooling, it will require wide-spread behavioural change which is often difficult to achieve without incentives.

Many Australian jurisdictions are now looking at ways to incentivise the use of EVs. The Federal Government has committed to introducing a national electric vehicle strategy aimed at increasing the uptake of EVs and making them more affordable. While the ACT Government also has an ambitious plan to significantly reduce our reliance on petrol and diesel vehicles by ending sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035. They’re also scrapping stamp duty and offering two year’s free registration and interest free loans for Zero Emissions Vehicles, such as battery and hydrogen fuel cell, to encourage us to make the switch.

Fernando is hoping that his research will help inform policy and generate informed decision-making tools to increase our knowledge about the benefits of a greener daily commute.

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