Eco Innovator November 2011

Government Policy

Clean Energy Future Will Drive Innovation

"The 19 Bills comprising the Clean Energy legislation and the Steel Transformation Plan Bill represent one of the most important environmental and economic reforms in this nation's history," said the minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet.

Mr Combet said passage of the legislation will provide certainty to business and encourage further investment in clean energy and low emissions technologies. "The Government's Clean Energy legislation addresses the science. It will reduce carbon pollution, it will drive investment in clean energy and it will ensure that Australia plays its part internationally," he said.

In giving the John Button Memorial Lecture recently, Mr Combet said "A central challenge is to transform our economy from one that depends on the highest per capita level of greenhouse gas emissions amongst developed economies, to one that can generate energy, develop products and export goods while reducing carbon pollution.

‘Reducing the emissions intensity of our economy is not a transformation to be feared. It is a future that must be embraced for environmental and economic reasons."

On climate science, he quoted the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which represents 18 national scientific and mathematical associations in climate science disciplines. "Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver," it said.

Mr Combet said this is the critical decade to act. "Decisions we make from now to 2020 will determine the severity of climate change which our children and grandchildren will experience."

The Government's Clean Energy Future Plan responds to the science by cutting emissions in the cheapest and most effective way. It will provide a foundation for investment in clean energy, he said.

The Clean Energy Future plan introduces a carbon price, promotes innovation and investment in renewable energy, encourages energy efficiency in homes, offices and factories, and creates opportunities on the land to cut pollution and improve productivity.

"This is an approach that will provide certainty for investors," he said.

The minister also referred to the Productivity Commission's report, Carbon Emission Policies in Key Economies, which says that emissions trading in Germany had reduced emissions in the electricity sector at a cost of only $20 per tonne where other German polices had cost over $140 for each tonne of pollution reduced.

"The carbon price creates powerful incentives, from producers to end-users, to search out and adopt the cheapest ways of cutting pollution. It will drive a restructuring of our economy, stimulating a move away from highly-polluting technologies and products, toward cleaner technologies and products. And it will do this at the lowest cost," he said.

This will create opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs. "In the low carbon world of the future, businesses, investors, researchers and innovators who find cleaner and more sustainable ways of doing business will secure a competitive advantage."

"Under the Government's reforms around $100 billion is expected to be invested in clean energy through to 2050."

Treasury modeling shows that as a result of the plan, electricity generation will move away from coal towards cleaner technologies, and by 2050, the renewable energy sector excluding hydro will be 18 times larger than it is today.

The carbon price, together with the Renewable Energy Target will drive around $20 billion in renewable energy investment by 2020.

The minister exampled Carnegie Wave Energy, "which is developing and commercializing wave energy technology to convert the ocean's swell to zero-emission power. Carnegie's technology is different from other wave technologies – its fully submerged units use the power of the ocean's waves to pump water to onshore turbines.

"There are many other companies like this in Australia that are looking for innovative ways to harness the earth's renewable resources for economic gain."

In 1953 Australia invented the first solar water heater, and likewise "Our transition to a clean energy future will be a story of innovation," said Mr Combet.






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