Wayne Swan has just delivered a speech to the Press Club on climate change policy. In the speech he made the argument that Australia might be left behind because the rest of the world was already doing a lot in this policy space.
Countries accounting for around 80 per cent of emissions have already pledged to act to address climate change. Thirty-two countries and ten American States already have operating emissions trading schemes in place. The world’s key economies are all taking action of one kind or another.
China’s 12th Five Year Plan, which covers the years to 2015, has a goal of “gradually establishing a carbon trading market”, while emissions trading is planned to be trialled in six key provinces before 2013. This is on top of existing incentives for low-emissions power generation.
India has begun implementing a national energy efficiency certificate trading scheme accounting for more than 50 per cent of the fossil fuel used there, and a coal tax is expected to raise about half a billion dollars for investments in clean-energy technologies in the first 12 months.
In South Korea, legislation was introduced in April to commence mandatory economy-wide emissions trading from 2015. The South Koreans have also had a trial emissions trading scheme in place since January involving 14 cities and provinces, including Seoul.
And Japan has also operated voluntary emissions trading schemes involving some of its largest companies since 2005.
In Europe, an Emissions Trading Scheme commenced in 2005 and applies in 30 countries, some of which also have a carbon tax, and many of which have additional measures such as renewable energy subsidies.
In Britain – which produces roughly the same total carbon pollution as Australia but has a population three times our own – a Conservative coalition government has just tightened its emission targets to 50 per cent below 1990 levels by around 2025.
In the US, despite a hostile Congress, the President is committed to a new Clean Energy Standard that will double the share of clean-energy sources in the US electricity supply mix to 80 per cent by 2035.
Notice the sleight of hand – 32 countries have an ETS, 30 of them are the EU. But more important, what Swan is forgetting is that Australia has also done a lot.
If you want to see a list of Australian government policies addressing the environment look no further than the Department of Climate Change and Energy efficiency website.
Programs and rebates
The Australian Government is committed to developing programs and initiatives to support householders, industry and the community to save energy and reduce emissions.
Home Insulation Safety Plan
National Solar Schools
Renewable Energy Target
Smart Grid, Smart City
Solar Hot Water Rebate
The A-Z of Government initiatives provides a comprehensive listing of climate change and energy efficiency programs and initiatives.
Rebates and assistance are provided by the Australian Government and most State and Territory governments. To find out what assistance may be available in your location visit the Living Greener website.