While some participants had limited understanding of Direct Action and were adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach, a significant number had clear and insightful questions on behalf of their business. Dr Peter Holt, head of Carbon Strategy at Energetics said, “We heard from businesses which have established sophisticated systems and processes for reporting, analysing and reducing emissions. They do not want to re-invent the wheel.”
Dr Holt went on to say, “Businesses want to know how Direct Action will complement existing federal and state schemes. They want an economically efficient scheme that targets emissions reduction activities within Australia.”
Penalties should match the cost of abatement under Direct Action
Perhaps one of the most interesting findings came from a poll Energetics conducted in which 73% of participants indicated that they supported penalties being imposed on under-performing businesses that matched the cost of reducing emissions. (See chart below for percentage breakdown). Currently, the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) outlined in the Direct Action plan only talks about rewarding emissions reduction activities.
“This result suggests that business is prepared to accept appropriate penalties imposed for underperforming businesses, provided there is a level playing field,” Dr Holt says.
Support for renewables to meet our international obligations
In another key finding from Energetics’ polling, 51% supported renewables, 20% were in favour of energy efficiency measures and 19% supported a move from coal to gas powered electricity generation. Bearing in mind that gas prices are expected to escalate on the east coast from 2015, reducing its use in the energy mix. Only 9% were in favour of purchasing international carbon permits and 3% supported carbon sequestration in soil. With 9% voting in favour of purchasing international permits, the result suggests a preference for offsets that work towards transforming our local economy.
Questions were also raised about the future of the Renewable Energy Target (RET). Business wanted to know whether the RET will continue in its current form, whether it is Coalition policy to retain tradeable Renewable Energy Certificates, and whether support for solar from Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) would be abolished under Direct Action and if so, what mechanism would support small-scale generation.
Dr Holt said, “These questions from business are particularly interesting in light of Energetics’ recent analysis which showed changes in the way Australians use energy. One of the most significant trends we’re seeing is the rapid growth in renewables, particularly solar PV, which is reshaping Australia’s energy mix. This, and a number of other factors, has reduced the national emissions forecast to 2020. The abatement challenge that Direct Action must work to achieve has been calculated to be 275 million tonnes CO2-e reduction by 2020, down from the 2012 government forecast of 786 million tonnes.”
Questions raised and discussed:
There was also discussion around the ability of Direct Action to respond to stronger targets if they eventuate from the next year’s international negotiations.
For further information and to arrange an interview, please contact Helen Wetherell, Communications Manager, 02 9929 3911.