States "foolish to leave to others" policy on clean energy and decarbonisation Media Release

Mar 20, 2015 - 12:01am

State governments need to ensure that they are not left behind by global clean energy and carbon pollution reduction trends, The Climate Institute said today as it released a discussion paper outlining actions state governments can take to ensure their economies prosper in a world with carbon limits.

“The trend toward clean energy technologies, business models and consumer options is only getting stronger,” said John Connor, CEO ofThe Climate Institute. “Across the world, governments at all levels are implementing policies to reduce carbon emissions, address local air pollution, improve energy productivity, grow new industries and address energy security concerns.”

“There’s a great opportunity for state governments to fully capitalise on this transformation, if they do two things: first, recognise the objective is net zero emission economies by mid-century and second, work out a strategy for getting there. The World Bank, OECD and global business leaders are clear, the global economy needs to be zero carbon or below to reach the internationally agreed goal of limiting warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.”

The Climate Institute’s discussion paper, Going for Zero: State decarbonisation strategies for prosperity in a zero-emission world, outlines five areas that state governments should include in their decarbonisation strategies:

  1. Setting binding emission limits on major emitting facilities (e.g. industrial processes, power generators).
  2. Incorporating carbon costs and the benefits of emission reduction into policy and planning processes.
  3. Using procurement and management policies to help build markets for lower emission goods and services.
  4. Continuing to develop and link energy efficiency policy frameworks.
  5. Providing assistance in various forms: funding, technical, regulatory, training.

“Many of these policies make good sense by themselves and carry co-benefits in health, efficiency and cost savings. National policy is uncertain, but the global trend is clear - state governments would be foolish to leave it to others to lead. Inaction or even a piecemeal approach means their economies and communities would miss opportunities and be saddled with out-dated infrastructure and assets.”

“There are plenty of examples of state governments taking up these tactics. In the United States, 29 states have binding renewable energy targets, 10 participate in emission trading, and 20 have energy efficiency obligations. In Canada, Ontario has phased out coal power, California and Quebec have established international carbon trading and British Columbia has launched the first revenue-neutral carbon tax in North America.”

“But the plans need to be comprehensive. You don’t have a plan for the future unless your plan tackles climate change, and you don’t have a plan for the future unless you have a plan for economic decarbonisation,” said Connor.

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