A price-tag on pollution key to transforming Australia's electricity sector Media Release

Mar 31, 2011 - 8:00am


Professor Ross Garnaut’s latest paper – Transforming the electricity sector – highlights that putting a pollution price on Australia’s large emitters can drive billions of dollars of new investment in clean energy across Australia, The Climate Institute said today. 

“Australia has the 8th most carbon polluting power sector on the planet – we share the top ten polluters stage with countries such as Bosnia, Estonia and Macedonia,” said Erwin Jackson, Deputy CEO. 

“Professor Garnaut’s report highlights that an effective pollution price will transform Australia’s electricity sector away from one dependent on polluting technologies to one based on clean energy.” 

“Analysis by The Climate Institute shows this would unlock billions of dollars of new investment in clean energy and create over 30,000 new jobs – mainly in regional Australia.”

Professor Garnaut’s paper also helps to set the record straight on the factors currently driving electricity price rises. A massive investment in network infrastructure, including poles and wires, which Garnaut puts at $39 billion, but others put at $46 billion between 2010 and 2015, accounts for 68 per cent of the current total price increase. 

As the report notes: ‘While electricity prices will rise in coming years, the increase associated with a carbon price is in fact relatively small when compared with recent increases’ (p2). 

The Climate Institute welcomes Professor Garnaut’s contribution to the debate on energy security and transitional assistance for generators. 

“The coming months will see a multitude of claims and counter-claims about assistance for electricity generators. We call on all sides of this debate to facilitate a pragmatic but principled policy solution,” Mr Jackson said.    

The Climate Institute strongly supports Professor Garnaut’s call to use a portion of carbon price revenue to support low-income households, to improve their energy efficiency, and to fund clean energy research and innovation. 

“Unlike the other factors that are affecting electricity prices, a pollution price will generate revenue from big polluters which can be used to support energy efficiency, clean energy development and help low income communities manage the transition to clean energy”, Mr Jackson said. 

The Climate Institute also supports Professor Garnaut’s call for urgent reforms of the National Electricity Market to minimise future electricity price rises and increase the uptake of clean energy and energy efficiency. The current market rules and structures are a major factor contributing to the current rise in electricity prices. A key priority for these reforms should be to remove barriers to distributed energy, including co-generation, energy efficiency and demand management.    

The Climate Institute also supports Professor Garnaut’s call for urgent reforms of the National Electricity Market to minimise future electricity price rises and increase the uptake of clean energy and energy efficiency. The current market rules and structures are a major factor contributing to the current rise in electricity prices. A key priority for these reforms should be to remove barriers to distributed energy, including co-generation, energy efficiency and demand management.

For further information: 
Erwin Jackson | Deputy CEO, The Climate Institute |  0411 358 939
Harriet Binet | Communications Director, The Climate Institute |  02 8239 6299

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