States ranked in race for green transport

Australia's capital is winning the clean transport race in the country, with the ACT a clear frontrunner in a new study by the Climate Council, followed by New South Wales.

But three regions have been issued warnings to improve their policies, with Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory all recording rising transport emissions and finishing at the end of the list.

The Clean Transport Race report, released on Thursday, judged Australian states and territories on transport use and policies, including their transition to electric vehicles, plans for public transport, and cycling and walking infrastructure.

Climate Council advocacy head Dr Jennifer Rayner said making changes to the way Australians travelled was vital as transport accounted for 18.7 per cent of national greenhouse gas emissions.

"The ACT is leading by example in the switch to cleaner transport and the rest of the country should follow suit," she said.

"Cleaning up transport is a huge priority as we work towards getting emissions plummeting this decade. Australians want clean transport options that are accessible, reliable and better for our hip pockets and climate."

The ACT claimed first place in the study with a seven per cent cut to its emissions, as well as the country's highest percentage of electric vehicle sales, a zero-emissions transport plan, and high rate of active transport such as cycling.

NSW was lauded for its high public transport use, at almost 14 per cent, and commitments to electric vehicles and buses, while Victoria and Tasmania, in equal third spot, received gongs for active transport and reducing emissions.

Fifth placed South Australia was celebrated for its growing number of electric vehicle chargers, while Queensland received praise for its government fleet targets but a warning for its lack of electric vehicle chargers.

Last-placed Western Australia and Northern Territory both recorded a substantial rise in transport emissions, at 20 and 37 per cent, though were noted for their high use of public transport and active transport respectively.

Climate Council senior researcher Dr Carl Tidemann said the report showed Australian states and territories had made progress in cutting carbon emissions, and some had started to compete with one another.

"Queensland and Victoria have come out with more ambitious plans (for zero emissions) and it feels a little like they're competing. That has such positive benefits," he said.

"There's work to do but it's a transition and it's not going to happen at the same time.

"We'd really like to see some more strong commitments to phasing out petrol cars, buses and trucks and, in their place, electrifying the different forms of transport."

The ACT is currently the only state to announce an end to the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, set for 2035.

However, NSW, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland have announced plans to replace all government cars with electric vehicles by 2030 or earlier.

Good Car Company co-founder Anthony Broese van Groenou said states and territories clearly had different challenges based on their geography, with larger distances to travel in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

But he said all policymakers, including the federal government, needed to make greater advances in emission cuts to meet Australia's 2030 target.

"The place we could do a lot better is in having a national policy for electric vehicles instead of putting it on the states to go it alone," he said.

"We need to have emission standards for vehicles that have teeth and are enforceable."