Media Releases | 20th Nov, 2002

ALP greenhouse policy a boost for rural Victoria

Thursday, 21 November 2002

Environment groups today welcomed the ALP’s policy on greenhouse and sustainability.

Melbourne, “The policy demonstrates a strong commitment with a credible strategy to tackle the state’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said Don Henry, Executive Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

The most potentially significant initiative is a commitment to develop and implement a greenhouse benchmark scheme for Victorian energy retailers.

The scheme would require energy retailers to reduce per customer greenhouse emissions by reducing the greenhouse intensity of their energy supply portfolio or by purchasing carbon credits.

“The greenhouse benchmark scheme will create new markets in carbon credits for Victorian farmers and land owners,” said Darren Gladman, Environment Victoria’s Climate Change Director. “Australian farmers have been locked out of international markets for carbon credits by the Howard Government’s refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The ALP’s greenhouse enchmark initiative will be a win for farmers and is a major step  forward in reducing the state’s greenhouse emissions. With a multi-million dollar carbon credit market at stake, it is difficult to understand why the Vic Nats would not support this initiative.”

Other notable initiatives include a Climate Change Leaders Forum, a strong commitment to develop the  Victorian renewable energy industry and a range of programs to improve energy efficiency.

Environment groups’ analysis of the ALP greenhouse policy

Climate Change Leaders Forum
ALP Policy: A second term Bracks Government will host a meeting of state and territory leaders in Melbourne early next year to allocate greenhouse reduction targets between various states and territories and establish a timetable of how to achieve it.

Environment groups’ response: The Bracks Government is showing leadership. The Howard Government has utterly failed to address Australia’s obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. Environment groups applaud this initiative.

Energy retailer greenhouse benchmarks
ALP Policy: In its second term the Bracks Government will examine the experience of other states in the introduction of energy retailer greenhouse benchmarks to develop and implement a scheme appropriate for Victoria to complement our comprehensive greenhouse strategy.

Environment groups’ response: This is potentially the most significant initiative in the ALP’s greenhouse policy. If implemented along the same lines as the Carr Government, it will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s energy sector by providing financial incentives for energy efficiency, growing trees and switching to less greenhouse intensive fossil fuels. This policy will, for the first time, create a real market for carbon credits in Victoria with new business and income opportunities for Victorian
farmers and land owners. Environment groups applaud this initiative.

Renewable Energy
ALP Policy: A second term Bracks Government will increase the amount of the state’s electricity derived from renewable sources from 4 per cent to 10 per cent by 2010. It would also increase the amount of “Green Power” it purchases from 5 per cent to 10 per

Environment groups’ response: We welcome the increase in the Government’s “Green Power” purchase and the commitment to meeting a 10 per cent target for renewable energy by 2010. Last week the Parer Review of the National Electricity Market recommended scrapping the Federal Government’s Mandated Renewable Energy Targets (MRET). Scrapping the MRET legislation would have a devastating impact on Australia’s renewable energy. While environment groups support the commitment to a 10 per cent target for renewable energy in Victoria, the government does not propose to make the state target enforceable using a mandatory approach. If the Federal Government accepts the recommendations of the Parer Review then in order to restore investor confidence in Victoria’s renewable energy industry it will be necessary for the Bracks Government to ensure that its ten per cent target is enforceable and backed by mandatory measures. The Federal Government is responding to the Parer Review’s recommendations on Monday 25 November.

Demand management and energy efficiency
ALP Policy: A $3.5 million fund to enable pensioners to introduce energy efficient fittings to their homes. A $3.5 million fund to continue the solar hot water rebate scheme. A $3 million fund to fit out schools and hospitals with solar technology and other energy efficient items. A commitment to developing energy efficiency standards for commercial buildings.

Environment groups’ response: Environment groups welcome these initiatives. They will reduce the energy bills for households, schools, hospitals and commercial buildings, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Brown coal power stations
ALP Policy: The Bracks Government has issued an exploration licence for a new brown coal power station and has indicated that it will issue two more. It supports research and development of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from brown coal, such as mechanical thermal expression and geosequestration.

Environment groups’ response: Environment groups are extremely concerned by the issuing of exploration permits for new brown coal power stations. Australia has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the developed world and Victoria’s per capita emissions are higher than any other state. Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions are very high because we rely heavily on burning brown coal for electricity.
The Bracks Government says it will not allow new brown coal power stations to be built unless the developers can prove new technologies to reduce emissions. However, environment groups are of the view that no new brown coal power stations should be built. Even if the new technologies can be proven, a more efficient brown coal power station would only reduce the state’s emissions if it replaced an existing power station. The ALP Policy does not commit to replacing outdated power stations in the Latrobe Valley. In the absence of a long term plan for replacing outdated and inefficient power stations, environment groups strongly oppose any proposal for a new brown coal power station.