Bold energy efficiency plan backed by business, welfare, labour and conservation groups Media Release

Nov 12, 2008 - 8:31am

The independent Climate Institute today launched an energy efficiency strategy - supported by business, welfare, union and conservation groups - which could create 40,000 jobs and save almost two dollars a day on household energy bills. 

“Action on energy efficiency can not only buffer households against energy price increases, it can transform our highly polluting, highly inefficient economy to become more competitive in the emerging global low carbon economy – growing jobs and business opportunities,” John Connor, Climate Institute CEO said. 

Previous studies have found there were major opportunities for energy savings in the residential, commercial and manufacturing sectors – possibly up to 73%, 70% and 46%, respectively. The large scale roll out of energy efficiency in households could save consumers between $313 and $700 per year and create 40,000 jobs.

“Even conservative estimates from Treasury modelling suggests decisive action on energy efficiency has the potential to slash $4.2 billion in 2020 and $25 billion in 2050* off the costs of reducing our carbon pollution,” Mr Connor said.

“Australia is an energy efficiency laggard amongst developed nations and if the government is to deliver on its election promise of putting Australia ‘at the forefront of OECD energy efficiency improvement’ it needs decisive efficiency initiatives in addition to an emissions trading scheme.

“Energy efficiency improvements have suffered from a range of price and non-price market failures and becoming competitive will need more than just price signals.”

The policy paper Australia’s National Strategy for Energy Efficiency calls for federal government leadership in three key areas:

Support for households to reduce energy wastage

Incentives and support for commercial and industrial sectors

Improved standards and disclosure of information for domestic and commercial appliances and facilities

Backed by a range of supporting policies, these measures will underwrite households’ energy affordability, improve Australia’s global energy productivity and should provide the basis for developing a National Strategy for Energy Efficiency to be implemented from June 2009, as agreed by Council of Australian Governments (COAG)

“Federal leadership is needed to ensure a coordinated strategy for energy efficiency and strong pollution reduction targets to drive innovation needed to position Australia to compete in the emerging global low-carbon economy,” Mr Connor said.

The Climate Institute’s Australia’s National Strategy for Energy Efficiency Policy Paper is supported by ACOSS, Energetics, ACTU, CFMEU, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Australian Conservation Foundation, and the Green Building Council of Australia. Statements of support from these organisations are attached.

* Based on Treasury modelling sensitivity of enhanced energy efficiency improvements p.157-159.


“Australia needs to get energy smart.

Improving our energy efficiency will cut carbon pollution, create jobs and boost our economy at a time when it needs a boost. A recent report by the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Conservation Foundation found with the right incentives from Government the energy efficiency sector could grow to a $50 billion industry employing 75,000 people by 2030.

A National Strategy for Energy Efficiency is a crucial step towards cutting our carbon pollution by at least a third by 2020 and helping give a fighting chance to Australia’s natural icons, like the Great Barrier Reef and the Murray-Darling Basin, from the dangers of climate change.”

- Don Henry, Executive Director, Australian Conservation Foundation


“Better residential energy efficiency is essential to improve amenity and comfort, minimise bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The task of improving residential energy efficiency offers great opportunities for low income households to play a part in climate change solutions.”

- Lin Hatfield Dodds, ACOSS President


“Energy efficiency is a key to reducing green house emissions and the cost of making the transition to a new low carbon economy. Australia can develop the skills and expertise necessary to roll out energy efficiency programs and be a world leader in creating green jobs and green industries.”

- Sharan Burrow, President, ACTU


“The Brotherhood of St Laurence commends the Climate Change Institute on its report ‘Australia’s National Strategy for Energy Efficiency’. The Brotherhood strongly supports the report’s recommendation that a large-scale retrofitting program targeting low-income households should be a core aspect of a national energy efficiency strategy. Energy efficiency programs such as retrofitting are an important way for low-income households to reduce their vulnerability to rising energy prices.”

- Tony Nicholson, Executive Director, the Brotherhood of St Laurence


“Improving energy efficiency saves money, creates jobs and reduces global warming. It’s the sort of win/win measures that we must implement. Especially in light of the economic crisis, these measures represent a major way to help rebuild our economy and reduce emissions at the same time.”

- Tony Maher, CFMEU


“We have been working with business on improving energy efficiency for 25 years and while progress has been made the current drivers and incentives favour the use of more energy rather than less. Business uses more than 70% of Australia’s energy - so driving efficiency with business will deliver major emission reductions as well as cost savings for business. But this does need to be guided by policy, as our current business models are not designed to use energy wisely. Energetics endorses The Climate Institute’s call for a broad and effective National Strategy for Energy Efficiency to realign incentives and legislation, to harness business innovation to make a real impact on our emissions.”

- Jon Jutsen, Executive Director, Energetics


“The Prime Minister is right to identify energy emissions in the built environment as the 'second plank' of the government's climate change strategy. Buildings in Australia offer the largest and most cost-effective abatement opportunity and meeting our greenhouse gas targets will be more challenging unless the potential within our built environment is unlocked. The initiatives contained in the Climate Institute report such as accelerated depreciation, strengthening the residential and commercial building codes and establishing a National Energy Savings Trust provide real policy options for the government to achieve their abatement targets. This builds on recent work undertaken by the Centre for International Economics, which highlighted that in terms of the built environment, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) will only achieve a 3-4 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions whereas the implementation of a range efficiency measures will achieve between a 30 and 35 per cent reduction in emissions.”

- Romilly Madew, Chief Executive of the Green Building Council of Australia

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