The Rudd Government must follow through on election commitments to act on climate change and to establish a broad-based emissions trading system - and the cost of action is not that high.
Armed with the Garnaut Climate Change Review, released today on the 4th of July, the Rudd Government must not flinch in its resolve to neutralise carbon, to dispatch greenhouse gas emissions, and to fully adopt Prof Garnaut's recommendations on a national emissions trading scheme - because it create the long-term good for the economy, according to the WA Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA), the business chamber for the sustainable energy industry in WA.
"We cannot let the binging on carbon continue. The businesses that are most exposed to carbon intensity undoubtedly deserve help to rehabilitate. Compensation with free permits to continue carbon emissions will not reduce carbon intensity - intervention that assists industry reduce emissions by supporting energy efficiency measures and provides lower emissions energy sources for businesses is the only way to win independence from carbon emitting fuels," says Dr Ray Wills, Chief Executive of WA SEA.
"Groups with commercial interests in carbon handouts and naysayers alike have said fixing climate change would be devastating for Australia's economy - but their numbers do not add up. The reality is the value of one day of losses on the Australian share market from yesterday (Thursday 3 July 2008) is more in dollar terms than would be traded in an entire year in a carbon trading market," says Dr Wills.
"The reality is that a carbon market in the first few years of operation will probably only have a total annual value less than $12-15 billion, and unlikely to ever be worth more than $30 billion annually - unless we are ineffectual in rolling out energy efficiency across the nation, and fail to commit to quickly build renewable energy generation."
"And in addition to emissions trading, investment to reach a 20% renewable energy target by 2020 will require funds in the range of $25 to 35 billion over the next decade. At an average of $3 billion a year, that's not a big number either - and will be important component of reducing emissions," says Dr Wills.
"And the investments we are talking about won't be losses investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy will deliver projects returning real profits in real operations with real jobs that deliver real, emissions-free energy, and help build a more efficient, more sustainable economy."
"Energy efficiency measures that reduce our energy bills despite the increase in the unit price of energy will actually reduce energy costs - if we use less, we will pay less, and will be less exposed to future rises in energy price."
"Inaction will condemn markets that rely on resource-extraction for energy with increasing demand bound to drive up the price of fuel sources and inflation. But measures designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel. Oil prices will continue to spiral beyond $140 per barrel with on-going growth in demand from China and India, and no doubt pushing up inflation in Australia, but renewable energy will continue to shine on us, to wash up on our shores, and to blow past us - without additional cost," says Dr Wills.
"And lets get some perspective - the start-up of a an emissions trading system is still two years away - but in a process that started as long ago as 1992 when Australia signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an array of work by Australian Federal Governments over the subsequent decade, and examined in detail from processes started more than two years ago when the State Governments in the absence of the in the meanwhile, in the lead in Australia must take all steps now to be more energy efficient now. Acting on energy efficiency now can mean that rises in the unit price of energy that will occur do not have to lead to higher energy bills," says Dr Wills.
"State and Federal Governments can deal with concerns on energy price rises by assisting the community make energy efficient decisions, and must prepare susbtantial measures to be included in 2009 budgets that start funding the process a year in advance of increased prices from an emissions trading system."
"Failing to deal with greenhouse gas emissions will be expensive - it may well cost the Earth."
WA Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) Media Release - 4th July 2008
1. The Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) is a chamber of businesses variously promoting, developing and/or adopting sustainable energy technologies and services that minimise the use of energy through sustainable energy practices and maximise the use of energy from sustainable sources. WA SEA is supported by a rapidly growing membership of now 175 industry members from a diversity of businesses. www.wasea.com.au.