Air pollution-related deaths in Australia have jumped by 69 per cent in five years while deaths in 20 other similar countries have declined, a report from Victoria’s Auditor General has said.
The Auditor General, John Doyle’s report said there were 1483 deaths related to air pollution in 2012, a leap from 882 deaths in 2005.
At the same time, 20 other countries, including the United Kingdom, United States and Germany, had decreases in their pollution-related death. Mr Doyle cited a 2014 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development report that suggested this was due to stricter vehicle emissions in those countries.
The cost of these pollution-related deaths to Australia was $5.8 billion in 2010. It was estimated that 50 per cent could be attributed to air pollution from road transport, the Auditor General’s report said.
Victoria’s total emissions from transport have grown 41.2 per cent from 1990 to 2012 and the report estimated that transport accounted for 18.72 per cent of Victoria’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2011–12.
Passenger cars were responsible for about 60 per cent of transport greenhouse gases, the report said.
The Auditor General’s report ”Managing the Environmental Impacts of Transport” was critical of the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure’s efforts to reduce emissions, pollution and noise.
Mr Doyle singled out VicRoads as ahead of most agencies within the transport department on environmental impact measures. However overall he criticised the department’s environmental performance saying much of its plan was aspirational and without goals, performance measures and focus.
He also singled out Public Transport Victoria for failing to have a dedicated plan for reducing emissions or energy consumption and failing to act on suggestions made in 2012.
Under the Transport Integration Act, transport agencies must ”manage the transport system in a way that actively contributes to environmental sustainability” the report said.
Mr Doyle was critical of the department’s response to his recommendations.
”I am disappointed by (the department’s) less than fulsome acceptance of my recommendations for it to develop a statewide strategy to address the environmental impacts of the transport system,” Mr Doyle said.