The world is watching as the Australian Capital Territory struggles to find a solution to the problem of pollution in its urban centres.
Key points:Environment Minister David Elliott says “mosaics” of people are making roads look worseThe problem is caused by diesel emissions that are leaking into local waterways from the city’s diesel generatorsSome of the most congested roads in the ACT are littered with large numbers of diesel-powered vehicles.
The government says that the vehicles are making the roads look less efficient.
Mr Elliott said there was “no question” that pollution was to blame, but that it was “absolutely unacceptable” for people to be using these vehicles.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that people would be using a diesel vehicle for transport and it is absolutely appalling that they’re going through our system,” he said.
“They’re breaking the law, they’re wasting money, and they’re putting our community at risk.”
Mr Elliott says diesel emissions are leaking out of the generators that power the generators in Adelaide’s suburbs.
“We have some of the highest diesel emissions in the country,” he told the ABC’s 7:30 program.
“That’s because diesel generators emit so much pollution into local water bodies.”
The water in the city is in a state of crisis and is in danger of being turned into a toxic waste stream.
“Mr Robertson says he is “absolutely convinced” that the diesel emissions coming from diesel generators are the reason for the pollution.”
If you look at a typical diesel generator, the first two or three miles, the diesel is at around the level of where you’d expect it to be in the environment, and then the diesel gets a bit more heavy as it goes up the length of the cycle,” he explained.”
At the end of the process, that diesel will be emitting as much pollution as it’s been producing all of this time.
“What is diesel?
A diesel engine uses electricity to generate electricity, but is powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE).
It burns diesel fuel to produce a fuel that can be used for a range of fuels including petrol, diesel and jet fuel.
The amount of pollution generated by a diesel engine is known as pollutant emissions, and it contributes to climate change.
In Australia, diesel generators have been used for more than a century, but the pollution that is released is becoming a problem.
The ACT has one of the country’s highest rates of diesel emissions.
The Environment Department estimates the state’s diesel-generated pollution causes more than 10,000 premature deaths each year.”
This is the biggest issue we have and we’ve been trying to get this resolved,” Mr Robertson said.
He says diesel pollution is the “biggest issue” in the state and the state government has been “pretty much on the back foot” for years.”
Our roads are going through a real crisis.
“So we’ve had to be really deliberate about what we’re doing.”
Mr Johnson agrees that there has been a lack of coordination between state and federal governments on how to tackle the problem.
“There’s been no way of getting to this sort of solution because of the way things are being set up,” he says.
“But we’re seeing the beginnings of a really strong effort in terms of the ACT government being willing to look at this issue, and actually get some sort of agreement on this.”
How do we fix it?
The Environment Ministry says it is working with a number of stakeholders to try and fix the problem, and has set up a pilot project with the ACT’s Department of Infrastructure to try to find solutions.
“I think that if we can come up with a way to solve this problem, then I think that we will be able to see a real reduction in pollution,” Mr Johnson said.
The pilot project will see drivers take part in two rounds of testing, which will determine the pollution emissions that will be emitted into the local waterways.
Mr Johnson says that, if successful, it would reduce the pollution by as much as 40 per cent in the first six months.
“As a result of that, we think we could get the pollution down to about 30 to 40 per year,” he added.
“And then we think that’s a very, very achievable reduction.”