News | 21st Sep, 2011

GREEN DEALS: Carbon leakage

Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Alexander Cornwell & Sophie Vorrath, Climate Spectator

The Victorian Coalition government's level of commitment to clean energy development became a little clearer on Tuesday when Treasurer Kim Wells described the state's 20 per cent emissions reduction target* as "aspirational." Asked during question time whether the Baillieu government would remove the target – which is, of course, legislated – Wells responded that they would wait to see what happens with the carbon tax first. The reference to this target as aspirational is not a Wells original – it was rolled out by the Premier in May, after the announcement that his government would walk away from the Hazelwood coal power plant talks. Asked about his Coalition's support of the former government's climate bill, including the 20 per cent emissions target, Ted Baillieu said: ''We have indicated before we didn't oppose that legislation. We have always said that that is going to be a target that is going to be difficult to achieve and it is aspirational to that extent.''

As for what happens with the carbon tax, Baillieu offered some thoughts on that too, on Tuesday, declaring that it would hit Victoria the hardest of all. "This is going to have a very heavy impact," Baillieu told Fairfax Radio. "It's a very complex tax and a very complex impact. …[that] is going to cost Victorians a considerable amount of money." Baillieu's comments followed the tabling of a report by Deloitte Access Economics, that shows a $1050 impact on the typical income in Victoria, mainly through rising electricity bills, and 35,000 fewer jobs for the state. "The report predicts $660 million less flowing into the Victorian budget by 2015," said Baillieu. "The impact there is straightforward things like paying for the additional electricity prices for hospitals, for public transport, for education and for a variety of other aspects that come straight off the government's budget and the government's not compensated for that."

But AAP has since reported that the Deloitte report shows the tax would have the greatest impact by 2015 on the gross state product of Queensland (-2.52 per cent), Western Australia (-2.42) and NSW (-1.80), ahead of Victoria (-1.78). It also fails to take into account $5.5 billion in compensation to the electricity industry, most of which is tipped to go to Victoria's brown coal generators, a $300 million package for the steel industry, or $10 billion for renewable energy projects.

Working green

The percentage of 'green jobs' in Australia looks to have remained stable for the month of September, according to the latest figures from environmental and renewable energy recruitment group GreenCollar Talent. The group's green jobs index shows them holding steady at 1.5 per cent, despite tightening over previous months and a relatively weak performance by the solar industry, on the back of state and federal government subsidy cuts – the latest victim of these being Solar Shop, which entered receivership on the September 9 after 12 years in operation. But GreenCollar MD Peter Hooper said that, outside of the solar sector, green job creation was "thriving," with a lot of new activity developing around environmental management in the mining sector, especially in WA.

“In the mining sector we are seeing a demand for jobs in energy efficiency and around waste and water projects," Hooper said. "In the corporate sector, there are a number of sustainability related positions being created by companies and organisations keen to bolster their CSR credentials, as well as take advantage of the costs savings that a good sustainability plan can produce.” Hooper also said the introduction of a carbon tax in 2012 would increase the likelihood of a green job boom. "We have a solid base of highly skilled and experienced environment professionals on our database and as we continue to see growth in green collar jobs we are confident that the supply will keep pace with the demand,” he said, pointing to The City of Sydney a leader in green job creation, with its ‘Sustainable Sydney 2030' plan.


More resources

Read our media release about this issue here
Read about the carbon price package here
Take away our summary of it here
More on Green Jobs here

We're keeping an eye on the state governments environmental performance. Check it out