Australia confirms action on sustainable energy through a price on carbon

The Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA - welcomes the passage of the carbon legislation through the Australian Senate today (8 November 2011).

SEA notes in particular:

  • an emissions reduction target for the nation of 80% of 1990 emissions by 2050 – SEA believes this target must guide substantial shorter-term action, recognising that early action is likely to be obtained at a lower cost than delayed action;
  • a price on carbon that delivers greater certainty to businesses seeking to invest in a sustainable energy future – certainty that has been lacking for a decade;
  • a transition to a fully flexible carbon price under an emissions trading scheme on 1 July 2015 with the price determined by the market – which is SEA’s preferred option for pricing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • the stimulus through a $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation that will promote investments in renewable energy, support energy efficiency and starts the journey to a sustainable energy future for Australia – an investment that will further leverage enormous private investment;
  • action to begin a transition from coal-fired power stations to cleaner energy sources and prevent the building of new coal-fired power stations – Australia must build future power stations on low-emissions energy as we build towards 100% renewable energy;
  • a commitment to action on emissions for heavy transport from 1 July 2014 – Australia must act to increase the energy efficiency of our transport fleet, and embracing electrification, and so ensure future transport is less exposed to rising fossil fuel prices;
  • assistance measures for the business community, from large industrial producers to small businesses – Australian businesses must be encouraged in every way to be part of the solution, and to provide innovative solutions to climate change;
  • makes voluntary action to cut emissions count – all efforts to reduce Australia’s emissions must be maximised, and complementary efforts in other nations actively encouraged.

SEA is committed to a sustainable energy future for all of Australia, and we welcome the certainty that will drive the evolution of the clean energy market after 1 July 2012 once a carbon price takes effect. SEA and its growing enterprise membership base support this outcome and look forward to working with the Government to create a sustainable economy for Australia.

‘Getting the right price on energy by pricing carbon, as well as removing perverse fossil fuel subsidies funded by the Australian taxpayer, will bring about a market response eliciting substantial energy efficiency savings across business activity, increased renewable electricity use facilitated by smart grids and networks supplying electric cars and public transport, and most importantly transformed cities,’ says Professor Ray Wills, Chief Executive of SEA.

‘Putting these plans in motion will unleash innovation in Australia, bring on investment by business, ramp up use of Australia’s massive renewable energy resources, and so diversify Australia’s economy and create new jobs across Australia.’

‘New resource projects will be exposed to the growing carbon constraints of global markets  – a price on carbon activates operational changes that may have otherwise been left on hold. A price on carbon will incentivise proponents to build in actions now that minimise or even eliminate their associated greenhouse gas emissions and so future-proofs these projects to be competitive in a decarbonising world economy.

‘Measures to reduce emissions including renovating buildings, capital depreciation of old, less efficient equipment, and incentives to be both more energy efficient and to source emissions free energy from renewable sources, must be accelerated in particular that ensure that booming Australian industries such as mining, construction and manufacturing do not build a legacy of carbon debt for Australia.’

‘A softening jobs market is exactly the right time to introduce new measures for a cleaner economy because of the new jobs in new industries that are created,’ says Prof Wills.

‘In understanding our actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is important we separate effects of economic downturn from any efforts to control emissions, and recognise actions to control emissions will cause some jobs in the future to change, but will build a net gain in new jobs, and will not be a net loss of employment.’

‘And in all cases above, this transition is not likely to be slow – Australia’s economy for the last 20 years has witnessed rapid technological transitions. In this case, the response is likely to be an even faster transition, favoured by government policy measures and regulation, buoyed by consumer sentiment, targeted by corporate and government operations, and soon to see increased demand as renewable energy arrives at grid parity across Australia,’ concludes Prof Wills.

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