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The Labor Government's Climate Change Future

14 September 2010 - For immediate release

Two major political events recently will have a far reaching effect on our climate change future; the election of the Labor Government at the Federal level and at the State level, introduction of the Victorian Climate Change Act. So what does the future hold for Australia’s climate change policy landscape?

A price on carbon

Labor’s delay in implementing the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) is considered one of the reasons for the swing away from Labor and towards the Greens. The Gillard government requires the support of the Greens and the independents in order to pass legislation, all of whom have which have made it clear that they want action on climate change. Labor is planning to establish a climate change committee, the outcome of which will assist in determining if and when a CPRS will be adopted. With support from the Greens in the upper house we may eventually see Australia limit its emissions through a price on carbon - but not before 2013. (Read our Blog post “Emissions trading scheme or direct action - What’s the best choice?” here:

Investment in clean technology and energy efficiency

In the meantime, Labor has promised to make a number of investments to help tackle climate change. The government will invest $100 million over four years in a new Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund to encourage development of renewable technologies. An $80 million investment through the Low Carbon Communities initiative aims to help local councils and communities cut pollution, increasing energy efficiency through investment in upgrades to street lighting, community facilities and council buildings. Businesses will also be able to claim a one-off tax reduction on investments that improve the energy efficiency of their buildings from two stars or lower to four stars or higher.

The introduction of a Carbon Farming Initiative will allow landholders to plant trees to offset carbon emissions. Farmers will be issued credits for these offsets over time, which can be sold on international carbon markets, providing an incentive for agriculture to help reduce world-wide emissions. The Connecting Renewables initiative aims to transform our energy grids by connecting the electricity networks to more renewable sources, bringing renewable energy into Australian households and businesses sooner.

While these investments represent a positive move in the reduction of greenhouse emissions, we would like to see a tangible carbon reduction target set into law by the Federal government.

Clear leadership is needed

Maybe the Federal government can take a leaf out of the Victorian State Government’s book. We commented recently on Victoria’s brown coal emissions as reported by Environment Victoria (Read our Blog post “Victoria’s brown coal emissions rise 10% in a decade” here: having risen by almost 10% in the past decade, so we are pleased to finally see clear targets set and actions outlined by the government to reducing its emissions. The newly introduced Victorian Climate Change Act 2010 (The Act) sets a target to reduce Victoria’s total emissions by at least 20% of 2000 levels by the year 2020. The Act also establishes a number of reporting frameworks and gives new powers to help regulate emissions - such as the ability of the EPA to directly regulate greenhouse emissions from industry - through methods such as carbon caps or emissions intensity standards.

A ten point plan to lower emissions

The Victorian Climate Change Act was never meant to detail the process through which these emissions will be reduced. To that end the Victorian government has released a White Paper on Climate Change which details new policies and funding commitments in 10 policy areas, including reducing emissions from coal and investment in renewable energy. The government will encourage energy efficiency in businesses though the Climate Tech Strategy and the Clean Business Fund, as well as setting targets for 5 star energy rating in all existing homes by 2020. Significant investment in public transport and the purchase of locally produced hybrid cars for the Government fleet will also aim to reduce carbon emissions - both through reduced emissions from the cars themselves and from saving emissions involving moving these cars overseas.

From 'Garden State' to 'Solar State'

While the white paper outlines a number of positive policies, issues still remain. A core driver in the reduction of greenhouse emissions is the introduction of ten solar energy hubs to create community based solar power. Although solar panels provide the 'feel good factor', their inefficiencies completely outweigh their benefits when used to generate electricity. In a domestic hot water application they are very effective but there are much more cost effective means of alternative electricity generation, such as cogeneration, wind and geothermal. A recent article described how Australian scientists claim that by harnessing just one percent of the country’s untapped geothermal energy from underground, 26,000 years worth of clean electricity power could be generated. While investment in renewable is good, an investment in the wrong renewable could prove costly.

Coal still a heavy carbon emissions producer

The government have vowed to 'Reduce emissions from Victorian brown coal-fired generators by up to four million tonnes over the next four years'. It does not however reveal the insignificance of that amount in relation to all coal fired stations throughout Victoria. For example, the four million tonne target over four years only equates to 25 per cent of the annual emissions of Hazelwood power station, which in turn, accounts for only 24 per cent of all brown coal power stations in Victoria annually. Greater reductions in carbon emissions could come through further reducing our reliance on coal powered stations.

The people have spoken - but is anyone listening?

It’s clear from the election results that the Australian people want action on climate change and leadership from the Government on reducing carbon emissions in an economically sustainable way. Whether the message has finally gotten through - and whether the Government has the will to implement the required actions - remains to be seen.

To arrange an interview, please contact:

Kristine Chompff
Tel 1300 311 763

About CarbonetiX

Discover how to reduce carbon emissions in your organisation – read the Carbon Conservation and Energy Efficiency Blog ( CarbonetiX are a climate change solutions company that offer energy efficiency services, carbon footprint services, software to monitor energy use and energy training solutions, to the government, commercial and education industries. Utilising a three-phase approach of Evaluate | Measure | Reduce, CarbonetiX help their customers save energy and achieve significant carbon reduction. Subscribe to our free newsletter, to receive informative articles, energy efficiency tips and updates on regulatory changes in sustainability: and download a FREE SPECIAL REPORT “Saving Energy On Heating And Cooling Whilst Maintaining Office Comfort”. Visit

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