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Climate Change and Energy Policy

Summary

Human induced global warming through the burning of fossil fuels is a fundamental threat to ecosystems, human societies and economic security. Australia is one of the highest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, and Queensland is the highest emitting state. It is imperative that we bring about a transition from a fossil fuel dependent economy to one based on renewable energy.

Greens policies in relation to climate change will focus on reducing GHG emissions in electricity generation, transport and vegetation removal. It will also focus on reducing energy consumption through energy efficiency in homes and factories. The Greens propose a range of initiatives for large scale and small scale renewable energy, and to support communities affected by the current recession in the resources sector. Greens policy aims to foster the development of a sustainable low carbon economy based on green jobs and renewable energy.

Principles 

The Queensland Greens believe that:

  1. Climate change leading to global warming is the single greatest threat to the viability of ecological systems and human societies at a local, national and global level. It is integrally linked to human induced increases in greenhouse gas emissions associated with urban, agricultural and industrial processes, transport, energy production and the clearing of vegetation.
  2. Climate change is already impacting on Queensland, particularly with regard to rainfall patterns. Future impacts are likely to include more extreme weather patterns from droughts to cyclones, broader distribution of tropical diseases, and widespread destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.
  3. Australia has one of the highest per-capita Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission rates in the world and Queensland has the highest per-capita greenhouse gas emission rates in Australia (See Appendix 1). Queensland additionally contributes a substantially and increasingly to global GHG emissions through coal exports.
  4. Policies in response to the challenge of climate change and global warming will need to focus on transport, housing, energy production, energy efficiency, land clearance, agricultural practices and export industries.
  5. In a future of increasingly urgent imperatives for reducing GHG emissions globally, Queensland’s dependence on fossil fuels will make the state vulnerable to the inevitable global shift away from a carbon based economy. The costs of not responding in a timely manner will be immensely greater than capitalising on the state’s abundant renewable energy resources.
  6. Energy efficiency and renewable energy offer huge opportunities for job and wealth creation. Queensland is well placed to lead Australia in the development of renewable technologies. Early action will ensure equity between all Queenslanders, and between current and future generations.

Goals

The Queensland Greens want to:
  1. Prepare Queensland for the challenges associated with dwindling oil stocks (and increasing petrol prices) without switching to other polluting energy sources such as shale oil or coal-to-oil.
  2. Plan a managed reduction and ultimately a cessation of Queensland's dependence on fossil fuels in the transition to a low carbon economy based on new and job-rich sustainable industries that draw upon renewable energy resources, including solar, wind and geothermal. This will include a transition from reliance on coal for a substantial part of state revenues.
  3. Assist the adoption of technologies, planning practices, product standards and economic incentives that promote energy efficiency and minimise the socio-economic impact of climate change GHG abatement strategies.
  4. Maintain a binding ban on uranium exploration and mining and nuclear energy.
  5. Encourage the installation of renewable energy generation infrastructure by agricultural producers, business owners, community groups and householders to feed electricity into the grid.
  6. Encourage the retention of vegetation on farms and the re-afforestation of degraded land as carbon sinks

Measures

The Queensland Greens will:
  1. Set the following Queensland provisions and targets for GHG reductions and expansion in the use of renewable energy:
    1. A binding target of 50% of GHG emissions by 2020
    2. 90% minimum reduction in GHG emissions by 2050
    3. Ensure that reductions occur across all sectors, including energy, transport, industry, waste and land management.
    4. A Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) of 20% to be met by 2012 for electricity power generation.
    5. Mandatory provisions to ensure that electricity distributors draw, to the greatest practicable extent, upon all renewable energy sourced electricity available to the grid.
    6. Replace the net feed-in tariff with a gross feed-in tariff to help offset the costs of installing small scale renewable energy systems and increase the scope of the solar power installation subsidy to a maximum installation capacity of 4KW for households to encourage higher levels of installed capacity, and include non-residential installations in the subsidy with higher subsidised installed capacity.
    7. Transfer subsidies and government support (including research and development) for fossil fuel based energy to fund research and development on improving energy efficiency, carbon capture through farming practices and at making large-scale renewable energy sources such as hot rocks geothermal, solar thermal and wind more competitive with fossil-fuelled power sources.
    8. Establish a state government not-for-profit authority for bulk procurement of small scale renewable energy generation infrastructure for sale to the public.
    9. Support research into sustainable biofuels, where sustainability includes avoiding competition with food production and does not require land clearing.
    10. Undertake the construction of two 250MW solar thermal electricity generating plants (click here).
  1. Introduce the following measures to facilitate more sustainable consumption of electricity:
    1. Introduce variable electricity pricing based on the availability of renewable power linked to smart metering technology to enable electricity users to optimize their use according to the availability of cheap power. See Climate Change and Energy Policy Initiative 1 Variable electricity pricing and smart metering and switching.

    2. Introduce new and effective Mandatory Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) for all residential and commercial buildings, including rental housing, incorporating passive solar and solar hot water, in stages to new construction and renovated buildings. See Climate Change and Energy Policy Initiative 3 Mandatory energy efficiency standards for new buildings and all rental properties

    3. Offer full rebates for retrofitting existing houses and buildings, including rental properties, with energy saving devices and measures.

    4. Extend MEPS to cover all appliances, large electric motors and internal combustion engines.

    5. Introduce mandatory energy labelling for all electrical appliances that includes both the operating and standby power consumption.

    6. Support a program where government funds the purchase and installation of solar panels to all houses then recoups the cost through savings in household energy bills over a 10 year period, as detailed in the EASI-Q policy (http://qld.greens.org.au/content/EASI-Q%20Initiative.pdf/).

    7. Link energy efficiency measures at time of sale of a dwelling to a reduction in state stamp duties on house purchases. 
    8. Enact legislation to charter and support non-profit renewable energy generation co-operatives. See Climate Change and Energy Policy Initiative 4 Establishment of small energy producers cooperatives.
  1. In relation to energy intensive manufacturing and electricity generation:
    1. Push for changes in the federal Emissions Trading Scheme to ensure that revenue is used to fund renewable energy research and installation rather than returned to large polluters (either as tax credits/rebates/cuts or free, tradeable permits) as compensation for their compliance with the scheme.
    2. Maintain public ownership of electricity distribution infrastructure as well as current electricity generation infrastructure.
    3. Place a moratorium on the issuing of licenses for new coal fired power stations, the opening new coal mines and expansion of existing mines until such time as “clean coal” technologies in all its stages (capture, transportation, sequestration, storage security) can be demonstrated at an industrial scale, based on sound science and engineering.
    4. Begin the phase-out of coal fired electricity, starting with the least efficient power stations.
    5. Take an approach based upon the precautionary principle in relation to carbon capture and storage (geo-sequestration) by opposing public funding, and ensuring that companies are financially responsible for the risks of carbon dioxide leakage at a rate of one hundred times the cost of an emissions permit.
    6. Ensure the full impacts of greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal mines are properly assessed under Queensland’s Environmental Protection Act (1994) and appropriate reduction or offset conditions are imposed.
    7. Reform Queensland's light metals sector by mandating increased energy efficiency of existing aluminium smelters, increasing recycling and supporting strategic investment in low-energy alternatives.

    8. In accord with the Greens water policy, ensure that any desalination plant is fully powered by renewable energy sources specifically constructed and dedicated for this purpose. Such plants may supply power to the grid but can draw no power from the grid except to maintain an emergency standby state.
  1. Promote public transport and rail freight in accordance with the Queensland Greens' Transport policy
  2. Develop a plan to assist affected communities in the transition from dependence on coal mining and coal-fired power stations. This would particularly emphasis the establishment of manufacturing and fabrication in regional areas in association with the construction of solar thermal power stations.
  3. Support the creation of a renewable energy export manufacturing sector with industry assistance and start-up grants.
  4. Amend the Vegetation Management Act to provide payments and/or other incentives for farmers for their enforced retention of vegetation under the Act and to re-afforest degraded land.

Appendix 1

Overall emissions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GHG Emissions Mt (a)

Population Millions (b)

Per capita GHG emissions (tonnes)

Percentage above or below national average

Percentage of national GHG emissions

New South Wales

160.0

6.85

23

-15%

27.8%

Queensland

170.9

4.19

41

48%

29.7%

Victoria

120.3

5.16

23

-15%

20.9%

Western Australia

70.4

2.08

34

23%

12.2%

South Australia

28.0

1.58

18

-36%

4.9%

Northern Territory

16.2

0.21

77

180%

2.8%

Tasmania

8.5

0.49

17

-37%

1.5%

ACT (c)

1.1

0.34

3

-88%

0.2%

Australia

575.4

20.9

28

 

100%

Fixed energy emissions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New South Wales

77.9

6.85

11

-17%

27.2%

Queensland

68.2

4.19

16

19%

23.8%

Victoria

80.9

5.16

16

14%

28.2%

Western Australia

38.9

2.08

19

36%

13.6%

 

 

13.8

1.58

9

-36%

4.8%

Northern Territory

4.5

0.21

21

56%

1.6%

Tasmania

2.6

0.49

5

-61%

0.9%

ACT (c)

0.0

0.34

0

-100%

0.0%

Australia

286.8

20.9

14

 

100%

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transport emissions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New South Wales

21.9

6.85

3

-15%

27.8%

 

 

18.5

4.19

4

17%

23.4%

Victoria

19.9

5.16

4

2%

25.2%

Western Australia

8.9

2.08

4

13%

11.3%

 

 

5.8

1.58

4

-3%

7.4%

Northern Territory

1.4

0.21

7

77%

1.8%

Tasmania

1.8

0.49

4

-3%

2.3%

ACT

0.7

0.34

2

-45%

0.9%

 

 

 

78.9

20.9

4

 

100.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a)

Australian Government, Department of Climate Change, State and Territory Greenhouse Gas Inventories 2006 http://www.climatechange.gov.au/inventory/stateinv/pubs/states2006.pdf

(b)

Australian Bureau of Statistics, 3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Dec 2007, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3101.0/

(c)

There are no electricity generating plants in the ACT

 

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