4605.0 - Australian Transport and the Environment, 1997  
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  • Transport uses a quarter of national energy (Media Release)


June 04, 1997
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

Transport uses a quarter of national energy

The Australian transport industry consumed a quarter of our national energy in 1995-96, according to Australian Transport and the Environment released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Of the total energy used by all transport, 72 per cent was consumed by road transport while 15 per cent was consumed by air transport. Cars accounted for 66 per cent of the energy used by road transport.

Use of road and air transport increased markedly between 1973-74 and 1995-96 (road up 91 per cent, air up 71 per cent), and the total number of urban passenger-kilometres travelled increased by 72 per cent between 1974 and 1993. Most of this was due to an 80 per cent increase in the use of cars for urban journeys. During this time, the use of urban rail fell.

Transport's impact on the environment included changes to air quality, land and marine resources, and human and wildlife environments. For example in 1989-90, around 14.4 million road vehicle tyres were replaced in Australia, with 66 per cent of tyres consigned to landfill.

Other points of interest in the 180 page report from the ABS and other sources include:
  • Since 1988, the consumption of unleaded petrol as a proportion of total petrol has increased from 21 per cent to 38 per cent in 1991, and 57 per cent in 1995.
  • The costs attributed to transport accidents in 1993 totalled almost $6.6 billion, with road transport generating the majority of accidents and highest accident costs ($6.1 billion).
  • Road transport generated the most CO2 emissions of any of the transport modes, emitting 55 million tonnes in 1994, compared to the next highest (air transport) at 9 million tonnes. This is an increase of 11 per cent in CO2 emissions for road transport since 1988.
  • In Sydney in 1991 some 1.5 million residents were exposed to outdoor traffic noise levels defined by the OECD as "undesirable" --- where sleep and amenity were effected.
  • At February 1997, the transport industry, including services to transport, employed a total of over 382,000. The biggest employer in the industry was road transport, which employed 51 per cent of employees in February 1997, followed by services to transport (19 per cent). The transport industry contributed $25.46 billion to GDP in 1995-96, amounting to 6 per cent of total GDP.
  • Urban and stormwater run-off is responsible for half of marine oil pollution.
  • Alternative energy sources for transport in the future will increasingly include LPG, Methanol, and electricity. These fuels produce less greenhouse gases and pollutants than petrol.
  • Routine maintenance reduces harmful emissions with the greatest reduction observed in cars aged between 10 and 16 years.

Details are in Australian Transport and the Environment (cat. no. 4605.0) available from ABS bookshops.

* World Environment Day is tomorrow June 5.