Climate action, inclusivity and gender equality top of agenda at 11th APEC transportation ministerial meeting

Transport Ministers from the Asia-Pacific are working towards a cleaner, more inclusive future in transport.

I took part in the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Transportation Ministerial Meeting, this week in Detroit, Michigan.

I was pleased to be able to discuss Australia’s commitment to a low emissions future and the actions the Albanese Government is taking after a decade of wasted time.

The meeting, the first since 2017, Ministers and Transport leaders from the 21 APEC countries highlighted the importance of acting to reduce transport emissions, supporting women to pursue and stay in fulfilling careers across the sector, and ensuring more resilient supply chains that can meet future freight tasks.

At this year’s meeting, I took the opportunity to outline Australia’s commitments including working with industry to develop an Australian fuel efficiency standard to reduce light vehicle CO2 emissions, while progressing other measures such as encouraging the deployment of charging infrastructure through the new National Electric Vehicle Strategy.

Australia is already phasing in Euro VI Emissions Standards for new trucks and buses to help reduce noxious emissions – which is expected to have a $6.4 billion net benefit across our health system over 25 years.

We are working with industry to establish a new Australian Jet Zero Council to cut emissions and boost sustainable fuels and will develop a new Maritime Emissions Reduction National Action Plan to help signal our ambition to become a global green-shipping leader.

In the 2023–24 Federal Budget, our government also historically committed to developing a Transport and Infrastructure Net Zero Roadmap and Action Plan to coordinate our future emissions reduction efforts in these critical sectors.

But we know there are areas that require more concerted action.

Australian transport employs more than half a million people across aviation, rail and road, and while the gender balance gears are shifting, women still only represent a little over one quarter of this workforce – and just 4.5 per cent of the sector’s CEOs.

Addressing this gender divide and supporting women working in transport is a priority for our government, which is why we are backing initiatives such as Australian Women in the Aviation Industry – encouraging young women to pursue careers as pilots, air-traffic controllers, mechanics, engineers and more.

Promoting the automotive sector’s opportunities to engage with First Nations businesses has also been a priority during this trip, reinforcing the Australian Government’s commitment to ensure our foreign policy reflects the country’s full identity.

I’d like to congratulate United States Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg for the US’ success in delivering on progressive and ambitious priorities as Chair for this 11th APEC transportation meeting.

This forum provided us with the unique opportunity to work side-by-side with our international counterparts to shape the Asia Pacific’s transport future.

During our meeting, I discussed with Secretary Buttigieg transport decarbonisation, rail safety and women in transport.

In a meeting with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, I signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to underpin ongoing cooperation between Australia and Michigan for a better, cleaner and safer transport future in both regions.

I also toured state-of-the-art transport facilities such as the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, to explore best-practice examples of transport technology advancements.

I look forward to working with our friends and partners around the world, and across industry to reduce transport emissions in the years ahead.