Joint media release from: Action for Public Transport (NSW), Queensland Conservation Council, People for Public Transport (SA), Public Transport Users Association (Vic), Sustainable Transport Coalition (WA).
The G20 group of finance ministers and central bankers meeting in Melbourne this week has been told to focus on cutting oil use rather than boosting production of the non-renewable fossil fuel.
“About 40% of global greenhouse emissions are from oil consumption,” said Victoria’s Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) President Daniel Bowen. “It would be grossly irresponsible to increase this pollution. The G20 members should instead improve public transport so that more motorists can leave their cars at home.”
“The only long-term solution to high petrol prices is to reduce oil dependency,” said Margaret Dingle of People for Public Transport (SA). Ms Dingle also noted that Government policy encouraged car use at the expense of public transport. “The SA Government is seeking federal assistance to build a $550 million expressway, while, exclusive of minor tram extensions it has committed only $10 million over four years to increase public transport capacity. Even if the SA Government were to seek Federal assistance to increase public transport capacity, it would not receive it under current policy.”
Dr David Worth of the Sustainable Transport Coalition (WA) noted that two recent Senate Inquiries have heard dramatic evidence about Australia’s sharp drop in oil self-sufficiency. “Oil imports are now the second largest factor in our current account deficit. As world oil producers struggle to maintain enough production to meet growing demand in the US and China, Australia may find it more and more difficult to obtain liquid fuels to supply our essential transport services, especially in rural and remote areas,” warned Dr Worth.
According to the Sydney-based group, Action for Public Transport (APT), a change in planning goals is also required. APT spokesman Allan Miles said, “Providing better public transport is only part of the cure. We need to plan and build cities with minimum distances between home and work, school and leisure destinations.”
Matthew Gray, Sustainable Transport Project Officer with the Queensland Conservation Council (QCC), noted the fast pace of urban development and motor vehicle use in South-East Queensland. “By 2016 a predicted 40% increase in vehicle traffic will lead to a 400% increase in congestion. Cheaper petrol will make this problem even worse. By all measures, the most effective way to address this looming crisis is to increase the share of more environmentally friendly–and less oil-price-dependant–modes of travel,” said Mr Gray.
“The poorest people in high income and low income G20 countries alike are hurt most by oil dependence and climate change. Alternative fuels could displace food production and consume precious water supplies. Sensible urban planning, good public transport and efficient rail freight networks are the best ways forward,” concluded Mr Bowen.