At Transport for NSW, we recognise that good air quality is important to us all. We are committed to improving air quality through our efficient management of NSW roads and road network. Through a range of initiatives and strategies, we are showing our commitment to reducing emissions from cars and heavy vehicles including:
supporting the shift to cleaner fuel and vehicles in our fleet and through initiatives like Zero Emission Buses
ensuring a more accessible public transport network to reduce reliance on car travel
promoting a wider range of active transport initiatives for short trips such as safe walking and bike riding options
Australia measures air pollution by 6 main air pollutants:
Among these, oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter (PM) are 2 commonly used indicators for air pollution from fuel combustion.
Trends in motor vehicles and their emissions
Despite a growing number of cars and trucks on NSW roads due to population growth, vehicle emissions have dropped significantly over the past 40 years. This change is largely due to advancements in fuel quality and cleaner engine designs. Progressive reforms, stricter Australian Design Rules (ADRs) for new vehicles and enhanced National Fuel Quality Standards have contributed to these improvements.
Among the pollutants assessed, PM2.5 (PM with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less) poses the greatest potential impact to our health. PM2.5 emissions from vehicles have dropped substantially over recent decades. Currently, vehicle-related PM2.5 emissions are much lower than those attributed to wood heaters.
Notably, current emissions standards for Australian light vehicles are almost 30 times stricter for nitrogen oxides (NOx) than the original standards from 1976. Similarly, standards for diesel heavy vehicles are about 30 times stricter for PM than those introduced in 1996.
Significant changes in vehicle emissions standards
Initiatives to reduce emissions
Government initiatives and technological developments put in place in recent years have further assisted reducing vehicle emissions. We are continuing to work with federal and state government agencies to support these initiatives including: