Tackling Climate Change

22 March 2015

Climate change threatens our environment, health, food and economy and the life of future generations.

The price on carbon emissions should not have been scrapped. It had been in place for over a year with limited impacts and households received compensation to offset increased costs.

A price on carbon makes low carbon energy more financially viable and competitive, generating green innovation and jobs.

Around 33 countries have some form of carbon pricing. Without a price on carbon it’s vital that state and territory governments show leadership and take strong action to cut emissions.

The NSW Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme was one of the first mandatory emissions trading schemes in the world and began in 2003, but was withdrawn on 1 July 2012 when carbon pricing began.

It required big polluters to offset emissions through investment in small-scale mitigation measures like efficient lighting or shower heads in homes. This scheme, or a similar one, should be reinstated given the price on carbon has now been scrapped.

New South Wales should legislate a strong 10-year greenhouse gas reduction target with annual goals.

We should immediately close the most polluting power plants and plan the long term replacement of coal fired power with greener renewable power. The State and Federal governments are co-investing in a massive solar energy infrastructure project at Broken Hill and Nyngan but we must move beyond isolated projects.

We need to remove red tape and unnecessary regulations that limit investment in and uptake of renewable energy. I share environment groups’ concerns that homes as far as two kilometres away could prevent approval of new wind farms.

We need a wind power policy that encourages investment and recognises its minimal impacts compared to coal.

The New South Wales Renewable Energy Action Plan however must set a target for local generation, not just support achieving the national 20 per cent by 2020 target that the federal government could remove or weaken.

There are no incentives for households to install solar panels since closure of the Solar Bonus Scheme.

IPART’s recommended price is only guaranteed for households already under the Solar Bonus Scheme.

New households installing photovoltaic panels must negotiate with retailers for a price on excess solar energy returned to the grid, but some retailers rip households off.

Energy efficiency provides enormous potential to cut emissions. A 2008 McKinsey report suggests Australia could cut its greenhouse emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 from energy efficiency alone, and California’s energy consumption has remained virtually static since the mid-1970s due to energy efficiency.

We should strengthen energy efficiency targets and introduce ways to encourage more efficient buildings, including retrofitting older buildings and strengthening the Building and Sustainability Index for apartments.

New appliances should be subject to higher efficiency performance standards.

Electricity company budgets should allocate a mandatory minimum for demand management given peak demand drives most infrastructure construction.

Combatting global warming is essential to our economy, way of life and children's future. This is the critical decade and the sooner we cut emissions, the cheaper the reductions will be.

Human induced climate change has catastrophic impacts for our economy and way of life, but because it is human induced, we can prevent it. But we must act fast before rapid climate change commences.

The gap in Federal action opens opportunities for State action.