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.