Vehicles and emissions

Sydney's Air Quality-Global comparison and influencing factors

Vehicle emissions have decreased

While motor vehicles are an important contributor to emissions, it should be acknowledged that they only make up a proportion of total emissions. To put this into perspective, wood fires emit around 50 per cent of Sydney’s total particle emissions.

Download air quality factsheet (PDF)

Download air quality monitoring factsheet (PDF)

Reducing emissions at the source

Government initiatives and technological developments have also been implemented in recent years to assist in further reducing vehicle emissions. They include:

We will continue to work with the Commonwealth and support initiatives to further reduce motor vehicle emissions at the source.

The NSW Government’s Future Transport 2056 Strategy outlines plans to contribute to a more environmentally sustainable community and support the NSW Government’s Climate Change Policy Framework and its aspirational target of zero net emissions by 2050.  This includes:

  • Encouraging a shift from private car use to public transport
  • Promoting low emission vehicles
  • Working with industry partners on new fuel efficient vehicle technologies and transition to a low emissions passenger vehicle fleet
  • Release of the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Plan to facilitate the take up of low emission, fuel efficient vehicles and maximise their benefits for passenger and freight mobility, productivity and liveable communities

Emissions of air pollutants have decreased significantly since 2003

Despite there being more cars and trucks on the road, vehicle emissions have fallen over the past twenty years, as a result of improved fuel quality and engine designs.

We will see a further decline over the next decade as new, cleaner vehicles replace older models.

View the data

Compare 2003 to measured and forecast data

Source: Adapted from EPA 2012 and 2016

PM 2.5 emissions Vehiclekilometres travelled Population 2003 baseline 2003 baseline 2003 baseline
more than 2003 population
Population increase since 2003
more than 2003 vehicle kilometres travelled
VKT increase since 2003
less than 2003 emissions
Decrease in emissions since 2003

Adjust the timeline above to see changes in the data

Despite Sydney’s population and kilometres travelled by all vehicles steadily growing, our emissions levels (measured by PM2.5) have continued to decline when compared to 2003’s levels.

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