Australia’s Energy and Emissions plans after Copenhagen!

After a much disappointing summit in Copenhagen where key members of world politics assembled to ‘beat around the bush,’ what does Australia’s future look like with respect to a reduction in emissions?

Australia’s first significant escape from any commitment towards emissions reductions and renewable energy generation came during the signing of the Kyoto protocol in 1997. This was an escape of historic proportions as instead of signing to commit to a reduction, they were given permission to increase their emissions by approximately 30% from 1990 levels. This was because Australia was able to negotiate that the emissions from deforrestation should not be included and anything they reforrested should be counted as a carbon credit.

One might also remember Prime Minister Rudd’s announcement of 25% emissions cuts. However, does any one remember the condition under which this drastic cut was mentioned, no. Australia’s second significant escape from commitment was to hold other countries responsible for emissions reductions from 25-40% in order for them to stick to their public claim of reducing their own emissions by 25%.

Even more recently Prime Minister Kevin Rudd came out and announced a delay in the implementation of an ‘Extended – Emissions Target Scheme’ (ETS) and the ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’ (CPRS). However, this escape from commitment might be viewed more positively than negatively. This is primarily because the main conclusion of the CPRS was “that $22 Billion in free permits, to be issued to heavy polluters under the proposed CPRS over the next decade, is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.” – from a report titled ”Restructuring the Australian Economy to Emit Less Carbon

Hopefully, these delays will cause the government and the public to think harder about the externalities associated with implementing schemes of this nature. Whether they want expensive emissions reductions through a market based mechanism or whether they want more government involvement in battling “Australia’s greatest morale challenge.”

Written by Prateek Chourdia

MEngSc – Photovoltaics and Solar Energy, UNSW

Solar Energy Analyst

Solar Choice

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