Like the Carbon Tax, the fate of the Climate Change Authority (CCA) is more or less sealed, with the federal government having vowed to dismantle it once it gains control of the Senate and has the political wherewithal to do so. The Authority, now effectively a zombie, was sidelined by the federal government on the Renewable Energy Target (RET) review, which it would have ordinarily conducted itself as part of its duties.
It nevertheless continues to function on what is almost certainly borrowed time, recently releasing a report that reaffirms the case for keeping the embattled RET in place from the perspective of the climate. The CCA will also undertake its own review of the scheme in parallel with the one being undertaken by the federal government’s hand-selected panel. Being the body that it is, the focus of the Authority’s recent report, Reducing Australia’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Targets and Progress Review (PDF), is Australia’s carbon emissions. The report recommends increasing Australia’s emissions reduction target beyond the current 5% to 15% by 2020, and says that the RET will be essential in keeping things on track. “[T]he Renewable Energy Target drives investment in renewable energy. It creates a guaranteed market for renewables using a tradable certificate scheme that encourages projects at large scale…and small scale (for example, solar PV on household rooftops).“
The opening letter of the document appears to acknowledge the uncertain future of the organisation, making the case not only for its own existence, but also for the programs implemented under the previous government to address the challenge of climate change. It also brandishes the CCA’s credentials. “As you know, the Authority’s members have considerable experience in diverse fields, including science, economics, business and public policy. This experience underpins the recommendations in the report which, in the Authority’s view, represent an appropriate balancing of economic, environmental and–not least–community interests,” reads the letter.
It’s doubtful that the government is listening, however. As SMH’s Peter Hannam points out, the government seems to have already willed the agency into nonexistence–there isn’t a trace of even its name on the Department of the Environment website. (It’s own website, on the other hand, is still up.) The CCA is in the process of producing its own assessment of the RET in spite of government opposition to the Authority’s existence in the first place–but whether it will be able to do so by its expected dissolution in July remains in question.
The Authority hopes that its report, which will not be officially submitted to the government, will act as a sort of appendix to the official review. “If the authority were not abolished, the research would form useful background information for its own RET review,” a representative of the CCA told AAP.
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