Government short circuits clean energy election promise Media Release

Dec 13, 2011 - 1:15pm

Independent research organisation, The Climate Institute, today criticised the Federal Government’s decision not to proceed with its election promise of an emissions performance standard for electricity generators. 

“It’s short sighted to short circuit a key tool in delivering the election promise of ‘no more dirty energy’”, said John Connor, CEO. 

“In our view the emissions performance standard for new generators was a key election commitment from the Government and a crucial tool for securing a clean energy future for Australia.”   

“Pricing and limiting carbon pollution is important, but we do not accept the Government’s argument that this removes the need for an emissions performance standard.”

“It’s certainly not the case in the UK where an emissions performance standard will be put in place alongside emissions trading.”

“Well-designed, an emissions performance standard can strengthen a carbon price, providing an insurance policy to ensure the construction of new power plants doesn’t undermine Australia’s pollution reduction goals and prevent the economy being weighed down by stranded assets and higher costs in future.”

An emissions performance standard is also an important tool for driving the transformation of Australia’s energy sector and unlocking world class renewable energy resources, including solar, geothermal and wave, as well as promoting the deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies.

As the International Energy Agency recently pointed out:

“Four-fifths of the total energy-related CO2 emissions permissible by 2035 in the 450 Scenario are already “locked-in” by our existing capital stock (power plants, buildings, factories, etc.). If stringent new action is not forthcoming by 2017, the energy-related infrastructure then in place will generate all the CO2 emissions allowed in the 450 Scenario up to 2035, leaving no room for additional power plants, factories and other infrastructure unless they are zero-carbon, which would be extremely costly. 
Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment avoided in the power sector before 2020 an additional $4.3 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.”
 IEA World Energy Outlook 2011

The Federal Government’s decision to drop the emissions performance standard comes at the same time as the release of the draft Energy White Paper. The Climate Institute will study the draft White Paper closely and provide a submission in the New Year.

“Australia’s clean energy future does not just lie in a dash for gas. Ultimately, the future depends on zero and below zero pollution energy sources from solar to biomass with carbon capture and storage.

“Enabling that future requires not only carbon prices but supporting policies and standards that also enhance long term cost effectiveness,” concluded Mr Connor. 

For further information and interviews: 
John Connor | CEO, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299
Giulia Baggio | Communications Director, The Climate Institute | 03 9600 4039

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