In review. Underpins Section 2.3 and analysis of emissions reductions from transport in the Australian National Outlook 2015 report.

Australian transport scenarios in a global context: the importance of land-use change and electrification for greenhouse emissions and fuel self-sufficiency

Journal paper, in review

This paper presents Australian transport sector implications of a range of scenarios to 2050 developed for a broader, comprehensive scope of global and Australian national, environmental, economic, and population variables. It accounts for important interactions with other national economic sectors and global trading partners as it quantitatively explores the impact of factors having most significance for key Australian transport indicators.

Greenhouse gas emissions and domestic self-sufficiency in transport fuels are the transport sector outcomes most influenced by the range of economic and environmental scenarios considered, which varied primarily by global policy choices on greenhouse gas emissions and the lifestyle and consumption preferences of Australian consumers. These had only an indirect influence via variables more directly affecting the transport sector including the potential for electric vehicles and for land use change to support the domestic production of liquid biofuels. To conduct this analysis, a quantitative transport economic model was integrated with others from relevant sectors including electricity generation and land-use, in addition to those setting the global and domestic economic context.

Economic growth and consumer preferences impact the total demand for transport services, and the outlook for electric vehicles. Electric vehicles also have potential to reduce the Australian transport sector’s dependence on imported, high greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuels by up to 40 per cent in the scenarios explored here. As they will likely be economic within the next few decades that uptake potential is limited primarily by consumer choice rather than cost competition from other alternative fuel vehicles. 

The potential for biofuel uptake in the Australian transport sector ranges from negligible to some 15 per cent of demand. Biofuel uptake quantity, however, is strongly influenced by supply factors: the development of processing plants for biofuel production and the local availability of feedstock at competitive prices, which in turn depends significantly on growth trends in agricultural productivity, and the willingness of land-holders to consider servicing new markets in biofuel feedstock. Nevertheless, there is unlikely to be significant competition for land-use between biofuel feedstock and any one of food, biodiversity plantings or carbon sequestration, as agricultural residue which is co-produced as a byproduct of grain could supply the required quantities of low-cost biofuel feedstock.


Thomas S. Brinsmead, Brett A. Bryan, P.W. Graham, Steve Hatfield-Dodds, Martin Nolan

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