Home' Nova National : July 2011 Contents 6
© NOVA JULY 2011
As climate change policies dominate the media, and our thoughts, Adrian Glamorgan
suggests we risk being left behind by other countries, not least China.
n case you haven’t heard, in May’s
Budget the Australian Government
cut back our country’s renewable
energy funding by over $500
million, putting a new front cover on the
strategy and rejigging the funding so the
renamed Emerging Renewables Program
(supposedly $100 million) gets only a
total of $2 million over four years, and the
Venture Capital Fund allocations will be
finalised – wait for it – by 2024.
Worse, part of the money being used to
support renewable energy and emerging
renewable technologies this coming year
was carried over from unspent monies on
renewables from last year!
The same day as the Budget, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC), taking a conservative line,
argued that on the evidence there seem
very few technological barriers to a big
shift to renewable energy, and that if these
renewable energies are given support,
they should power 80% of the world by
2050. In other words, solar energy, ocean
power, wind power, and bioenergy, if
properly managed, could give us the
energy outcomes we need to help steer
us through growth in the decades ahead,
while tackling the biggest problem of
humankind, rising mean temperatures
leading to climate change.
So, it’s the bad news and the good
news. The bad news is that the Australian
Government has effectively abandoned
renewables, at a time when the actual
technology for renewable energies has
been tested and found to be real, practicable
and achievable, obviously a key corner-
stone to action on reducing greenhouse
gases, and the way of our century. The
good news is that the whole world has
been put on notice that renewables can
be a key part of the answer to greenhouse
The $506 million Budget cuts in
Australia included scrapping the Solar
Schools program that facilitates schools
providing a portion of their own electricity
needs and selling it to the grid when they
had surplus (for example, in high summer,
when school is out). Also gone are Green
Start and other energy efficient schemes.
It did make sense for the government
to cut funding for the “clean” coal
initiative, as it is only an idea, an untested
process and technology.
But renewable energies, as the IPCC
has reminded the world, is technology
ready to go. When the Treasurer Wayne
Swan announced a $3 billion training
package and “critical new investments in
economic infrastructure,” the opportunity
for facilitating a turn towards these
renewables was ready and waiting – but
ignored. In fact, $4.3 billion of investments
in the Sustainable Australia strategy
includes what Professor Ray Wills, CEO
of the Sustainable Energy Association
of Australia (SEA), has called “simply a
different way of describing seemingly
business as usual spending of money on
regional hospitals, health care, universities
On the upside, the Australian
Conservation Foundation commended the
reform of the Fringe Benefits Tax subsidy
that, by discouraging excessive driving,
curbs greenhouse pollution from company
cars. But the Fuel Tax Credits scheme
continues, which means, as CEO Don
Henry explains, that “every household
in Australia is contributing about $200 a
year so companies like BHP Billiton and
Rio Tinto don’t have to pay a single cent
in tax for the diesel they use in their off-
road mining operations.”
ACF was critical of tax breaks for
green buildings being deferred, and the
$9.7 million to help continue the network
of regional marine planning program
“falls well short of the $350m needed to
meet our international responsibilities
to protect the oceans around our
Of course, at a time of belt tightening,
we can’t expect all environmental initiatives
to be taken up. But renewable energy
priorities do at least help us shift jobs
into a carbon-neutral economy, with long
term climate change benefits, which,
with a price on carbon (due in July 2012)
sends the right message to entrepreneurs
about which way to take Australia –
towards leading the world in renewable
and low carbon technologies.
Some might raise the objection –
why would we become a leader in these
technologies when the rest of the world
is committed to polluting energies?
Why should we do anything when
China hasn’t shown any sign of changing
its rampant industrial approach?
As it happens, China has a five year
national economic blueprint to raise living
standards by 7% Gross Domestic Product
(GDP), while simultaneously reducing
carbon pollution by 17% per unit of GDP,
and will invest in low carbon industries,
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