A new report created in partnership between the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), Infrastructure Sustainability Council (ISC) and Roads Australia (RA) has been released, calling for industry transformation to meet net-zero targets.

The Journey to Net Zero – Inspiring Climate Action in the Australian Transport Sector calls for industry transformation to accelerate the transport sector’s journey to net-zero and support Australia’s sustainable future. 

It also includes 46 recommendations to accelerate decarbonisation in the sector.

The report, authored by KPMG and sponsored by Arup, analysed local and global examples of leading best practice, and features 29 case studies demonstrating existing technology and strategies for carbon reduction.

The report sets out a series of actions for government and industry to support a focus on placemaking, drive emissions reduction, support investment in renewables and innovation, and promote engagement and collaboration.

In Australia, 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to, or influenced by infrastructure.

Once operational, 55 per cent of Australia’s annual emissions are related to the uses they enable. Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory estimates that the transport sector contributed to 18.3 per cent of Australia’s emissions in 2020 (94 MtCO2e) and is projected to increase to 100 MtCO2e by 2030.

The project partners confirmed collaboration would be crucial to transforming our transport systems to drive action in the sector.

ARA Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Wilkie, said the transport sector would play a critical role in achieving net-zero targets.

“Transport systems shape how we live and work and will be a critical part of our sustainable development,” Ms Wilkie said.

“This report confirms the transport sector will be a key role in leading Australia’s journey to net-zero.”

RA Chief Executive Officer, Michael Kilgariff, said the report highlighted the industry’s commitment to support action on climate change.

“This report is a powerful demonstration of industry’s willingness to step up and play its part in driving change,” Mr Kilgariff said.

“The collaboration between our organisations sends a powerful signal that all transport modes have a responsibility to deliver enhanced sustainability outcomes – and we will only achieve those by working together.”

ISC Chief Executive Officer, Ainsley Simpson, said there are many solutions available to us now to reduce emissions.

“This report confirms that with a national plan we can accelerate short-term action for positive long-term change,” Ms Simpson said.

“Yes, there is work to be done using levers like policy, investment and innovation, but there is so much we amplify right now including measuring and transparently reporting our progress toward net-zero.”

Kerryn Coker, Arup Co-Chair in Australasia, said Arup is pleased to support Australia’s transport sector in scaling-up current sustainability initiatives and implementing new ones.

“We see multiple opportunities for positive change through a combination of existing and new technology,” Ms Coker said.

“Governments can make significant impact through policies, and as major transport infrastructure and service providers – influencing low carbon investment choices across construction, manufacturing, fuels, operations, maintenance and decommissioning. 

“We see this report as a catalyst for more sustainable public and private transport ecosystems with enduring social benefits.”

The report identified five key areas of action to drive action and support the sector’s journey to net-zero:

1.Create a national, strategic approach to transport and infrastructure, with a focus on placemaking to meet the community’s long-term needs

2.Introduce policies and investment that promote the development of efficient, sustainable and resilient transport systems, including a move to ensure all new infrastructure projects incorporate net-zero emissions targets

3.Enable collaboration, capacity building and education at all stages of the process and advocate for new approaches to procurement

4.Implement governance structures, processes and approaches to drive transparency and sound decision-making to support the decarbonisation of transport systems

5.Adopt and promote technology solutions that optimise asset design, construction and operation of road and rail fleets

The report will be launched at an event in Sydney, supported by launch event partners ACCIONA and Autodesk. The ARA, RA and ISC are also set to embark on further government and industry engagement to act on its findings and recommendations.

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