Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Labor’s climate change vision

Kim Beazley (Australian federal opposition leader) this afternoon released Labor’s Climate Change Blueprint (PDF) for the next election. From an initial reading, I think it’s very very good.

In summary, its key elements are:

  • Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol,

  • ‘Working towards’ 60% emission cuts by 2050,

  • Establishing a national emissions trading system,

  • Including a ‘climate change trigger’ in the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. (Currently, under the EPBC Act, projects and developments that have a significant effect on a matter on national environmental significance must be approved by the federal Environment Minister. This would make climate change such a matter of national environmental significance and, in practical terms, would mean that large energy-intensive projects – such as power plants or desalination plants – would require federal government approval),

  • Increasing the national mandatory renewable energy target,

  • Investment in clean coal and renewable technologies,

  • No nuclear power,

  • Reviewing incentives and disincentives in the tax system (including research and development and depreciation),

  • ‘Rebuilding’ the national scientific research organisation CSIRO,

  • Introducing additional first home owners grants for energy efficiency measures,

  • ‘Assisting States and local governments’ to put in place mandatory energy efficiency ratings for new homes (these are already in place in NSW, Victoria and the ACT),

  • Making all schools solar powered by earmarking capital works funding for solar and energy efficiency measures,

  • Purchasing ‘green’ cars for the government fleet if and when there’s an Australian-made value-for-money option, and assisting State government and private fleets to do the same,

  • Establishing a National Sustainability Council to oversee progress on the nation’s sustainability.

I’ll try and give a more detailed analysis of what these measures mean in the next couple of days, but on first view, this looks to me to be an excellent mix of policies: comprehensive, sensible, flexible, harnessing market forces, and likely in combination to be a reasonably effective response.

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