Dear Dr Castleden
On behalf of Coalition Members of Parliament, Senators and candidates, I have attached a response to your recent questionnaire.
Thank you for the opportunity to outline the views of the Coalition on these important issues.
Throughout the election campaign we will be progressively announcing further policies outlining our vision for Australia’s future.
Once announced, these policies will be available at www.liberal.org.au and www.nationals.org.au.
Federal Campaign Director
DOCTORS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AUSTRALIA SURVEY ON CLIMATE CHANGE
1. Impact of Climate Change
The issue of climate change is a complex one, certainly not one subject to simple yes or no answers. It is also one where there is considerable discussion about the extent of the changes that might be caused by climate change.
The Coalition is taking practical measures to address this issue and is looking beyond the Kyoto Protocol period. In government, the Coalition has committed more than $1.7 billion for a long-term domestic climate change program to lower Australia’s greenhouse signature while maintaining a strong economy and Australia’s international competitiveness.
Australia is a continent subject to large variations in climatic conditions. The severity of the recent drought, the change in rainfall patterns in south-west Western Australia and recent bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef all demonstrate Australia’s vulnerability to climate change. These are just some of the events that show the potential for economic, social and environment impacts.
2. Adequacy of the Global Response
The current global response to climate change is inadequate. Climate change requires a global solution that the Kyoto Protocol does not provide. Most significantly the Protocol does not provide a clear pathway for action by developing countries like China, India, or even South Korea. The US has also indicated that it will not ratify.
While Australia is responsible for just 1.6% of world emissions, the Coalition is committed to a global approach to climate change. Australia chairs the Umbrella Group, a key group of countries in the international negotiating process, participates with other countries to work on technology options to reduce emissions, and play an active role in discussions on future international responses to climate change.
In addition Australia is working with countries like China, Japan, New Zealand, the European Union and the United States to address climate change in practical ways.
If fully implemented the Kyoto Protocol would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 1%, far short of the reductions that the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states are necessary to stabilise the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
The Coalition is committed to meeting Australia’s internationally agreed target of limiting emissions to 108% of 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. The actions taken by the Coalition under our domestic climate change program have put us on track to meeting our target.
3. Future Implications of Climate Change
The severity or future implications of climate change is subject to debate. The Coalition has recognised our country’s vulnerability to climate change and has put in place a $1.7 billion for a long-term domestic climate change program to lower Australia’s greenhouse signature while maintaining a strong economy, protecting Australian jobs, and ensuring Australia’s international competitiveness.
4. Global Perception of Australia’s Response
The global community recognises Australia’s efforts to address the issue of climate change. Unlike many other countries Australia is on track to meet its internationally agreed target of limiting emissions to 108% of 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.
Australia’s chairing of the Umbrella Group, its work with other countries on technology options to reduce emissions, its active role in discussions on future international responses to climate change as well as its partnerships with countries like China, Japan, New Zealand, the European Union and the United States to address climate change in practical ways demonstrate the high regard in which Australia is held by the international community.
5. Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol
The Coalition is committed to a global approach to climate change. In government we have pursued practical measures to address this issue and have committed more than $1.7 billion for a long-term domestic climate change program that looks beyond the Kyoto Protocol period to lower Australia’s greenhouse signature while maintaining a strong economy and Australia’s international competitiveness.
The Kyoto Protocol does not provide the required global solution. Most significantly, the Protocol does not provide a clear pathway for action by developing countries in our region like China and India.
Although the Coalition will not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, we have implemented a practical approach to climate change and as a result Australia is on track to meet its internationally agreed target of limiting emissions to 108% of 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.
6. Mandatory Renewable Energy Target
The Coalition announced in July 2004 that it will continue the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) at its current level and time frame. The MRET will deliver more than $2 billion in renewable energy investment by 2010.
Implementing the recommendation from the review of the MRET chaired by the Hon Grant Tambling, to raise the MRET from 9,500 Gwh per year to 20,000 GWh per year by 2020, would double the cost of MRET to Australian energy consumers to more than $5.5 billion to 2020.
With respect to climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the real issue is not the type of energy used but the reduction of emissions from energy.
There are a number of barriers to the expansion of the use of renewable energy that the Coalition is working to address.
For example, the Coalition is providing more than $200 million in new funding to address renewable issues energy and to demonstrate how these technologies can work for us in a sustainable energy future.
The new programmes include :
$100 million to develop renewable energy technologies with commercial potential. This will help Australia to maintain its technological excellence in renewable technology.
$20 million to improve energy storage technologies for intermittent generation. The inability of solar and wind to generate electricity at all times will be a barrier to their significant long-term penetration. This measure will deliver cost effective solutions.
up to $14 million for improved wind forecasting. This will allow wind to play a greater role in the national electricity market and assist planning for new wind farms.
$75 million Solar Cities trials will provide living demonstrations of solar technologies delivering cost-effective energy in flexible markets.
Renewable energy will also have access to the $500 million low emissions technology fund.
In addition the Coalition has provided funding for a range of support measures for the development of low-emission technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including:
A $500 million Low Emission Technology Fund and
$26.9 for Low Emissions Technology and Abatement to encourage development of energy technology options that include both renewable energy and geo-sequestration.
The Coalition believes it is important to focus on reducing the level of greenhouse gas emissions from energy use from all sources, rather than on a particular type of energy. The reality is that many countries are reliant on 4 fossil fuels for their energy and will continue to be in the medium to longer term. Developing lower-emissions fossil fuel technology has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining economic growth, particularly in developing countries.
7. Research and Development
Research and development into low emissions technology must focus on ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy use, whatever their source.
The Coalition is providing more than $200 million in new funding to address the commercialisation of renewable energy and to demonstrate how these technologies can work for us in a sustainable energy future, as detailed in the answer to (6).
8. Financial Mechanisms to Address Climate Change
The Coalition places a high priority on significantly improving energy efficiency in Australia. Improved energy efficiency can deliver almost $1 billion per year in increased GDP. It is also the most cost-effective way to lower greenhouse emissions.
Energy efficiency is good for the environment and contributes to an improved bottom line for businesses and lower bills for households. The Coalition wants to encourage Australian businesses and households to take up all costeffective opportunities.
Starting in 2006, a re-elected Coalition government will require businesses using more than 0.5 petajoules per year to prepare a rigorous assessment of energy efficiency opportunities every five years, and publicly report on the outcomes of this assessment and the energy performance of the firm. Each of these companies use as much energy as 10,000 average Australian households. The Coalition will provide $17 million to assist the introduction of this approach.
The Coalition will seek the cooperation of State and Territory governments in implementing a requirement that residential and commercial building landlords and owners disclose energy performance information to prospective tenants and purchasers.
These requirements ensure that energy users have much better information before making choices, and allow investors to assess whether companies are managing their energy wisely. But we will not be forcing businesses to make particular investment.
The Coalition will continue energy market reforms to improve signals for efficient energy use. $75 million Solar Cities Trials will demonstrate the benefits of pricing arrangements that reward users who manage their energy wisely, as well as household solar energy production.
The rollout of the successful and proven minimum energy performance requirements for widely used appliances and residential and commercial buildings is another key element of the policy. These standards will save consumers and businesses more than $4 billion by 2018, as well as reduce greenhouse emissions by 8 million tonnes in 2010.
The Greenhouse Challenge Programme will be firmly established as the single entry point for participation in Commonwealth government partnerships with industry on energy and greenhouse. Large energy resource project proponents, and businesses receiving fuel excise credits of over $3 million per annum will be required to join the programme, ensuring a systematic assessment of energy efficiency and other abatement measures.
The Coalition will also work with States and Territories to streamline and coordinate participation in energy efficiency programmes.
We need to ensure that all businesses and households are actively looking for new energy efficiency opportunities and that governments assist them with coordinated, streamlined and well-targeted assistance.
Cost-effective energy efficiency improvements will improve profitability of firms and the international competitiveness of the Australian economy.
As part of this comprehensive energy efficiency approach, the Coalition will also establish a Productivity Commission inquiry to examine the potential economic and environmental benefits from improving energy efficiency, and possible measures to capture these benefits. It will report by mid-2005.
9. Old Growth Forests
The Prime Minister Howard has recently said he would like to see an end to old growth logging in Tasmania.
“I think on that issue there has been something of a change in recent years. I think everybody would like to see old-growth logging stop, but that should not occur at the expense of the jobs of the timber workers”
(Australian Financial Review, 4 September 2004)
During the election campaign the Coalition will announce a Forests policy which will outline more details on our plans in this area.