The Victorian government has promised to pay to shut down one-quarter of Australia's "dirtiest" power station by 2014 — part of a plan to cut the state's greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth this decade.
But the commitment to a staged shutdown of the Hazelwood brown-coal power plant is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and would depend on help from the federal government.
Launching a climate change white paper, Premier John Brumby said he would introduce legislation to Parliament this week requiring Victoria to cut its emissions by 20 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.
Factoring in population growth, it equates to a 40 per cent cut in emissions per person.
The commitment comes as Prime Minister Julia Gillard is under pressure for delaying an emissions trading scheme — considered the cheapest and most efficient way to cut emissions — in the face of opposition from the Coalition and the Greens.
Mr Brumby denied he was showing up Federal Labor. "Our government's disciplined economic management means Victoria is in a position to lead the country in tackling climate change," he said.
The state climate change white paper outlines about a five per cent cut in emissions over the next four years at an additional cost of $329 million.
Further commitments would follow in four years if a national carbon price was not introduced.
Mr Brumby said he could not say how much the plan would increase electricity bills, but any rise would be minimal. He said some people would cut bills through improving their energy efficiency.
Environment Victoria said the state government had vaulted head and shoulders above other state and federal governments in tackling climate change.