RAC is calling on government to take action on vehicle emissions, with new data revealing Perth’s traffic has surpassed pre-COVID-19 levels.

New analysis by RAC shows traffic volumes on main roads across Perth have been gradually increasing above pre-pandemic levels since mid-June, with the biggest weekday increase so far — 11 per cent — recorded on Thursday, 6 August.

Traffic volumes graph

RAC General Manager Public Policy and Mobility Anne Still said COVID-19 has seen commuters swap public transport for their cars, meaning harmful vehicle emissions are likely on the rise.

“Across the globe, we’ve seen how, during COVID-19 lockdowns, air quality in cities has improved with less vehicles on the road,” Ms Still said.

“However as more people avoid public transport and opt for their private vehicles instead, our roads are getting busier and there is a real risk we could generate more emissions than before COVID-19.

“The transport sector is one of the biggest contributors to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and on a per capita basis, our nation’s emissions are nearly four times the global average.”

Last year, RAC’s Environmental Sustainability Survey revealed nearly nine in ten Western Australians believe the world’s climate is changing, and a majority attributed the cause of it to human activity.

Other key survey results included: 

  • Nearly half of all respondents said they have a personal responsibility to address climate change,
  • Nearly two-thirds wanted the government to do more to reduce vehicle emissions, 
  • Nearly half said they would consider buying an electric or hybrid vehicle as their next car, and;
  • Only a quarter of respondents had confidence in government to address vehicle emissions.

“Our survey shows the environment and climate change is something respondents feel personally concerned about, with many feeling they have a responsibility to take action to reduce their own carbon footprint,” Ms Still said.

“It’s encouraging to see nearly one in two saying they would consider buying an electric or hybrid vehicle in future to help reduce their impact on the environment, despite barriers such as cost, access to charging infrastructure and range anxiety.

“While the rest of the world is moving to address vehicle emissions, Australia is lagging a long way behind – including being the only developed nation without a mandatory CO2 standard for new light vehicles.

“Australia is facing a huge challenge in tackling harmful vehicle emissions, which is why we need a roadmap from government on how we can accelerate the transition to cleaner transport through policy, investment and incentives.”

Read RAC's Environmental Sustainability Survey here.

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RAC Media Contact: Caitlin Barr, 0401 703 719 or media@rac.com.au