BCA accused of double standards

29 Aug 2008Archived News Energetics in the News

Published: The Australian Financial Review by John Breusch - Jonathan Jutsen, Executive Director; Business Development, Energetics Pty Ltd talks about a recent survey Energetics' conducted on energy efficiency.

 

The Business Council of Australia’s dire warnings about the risks of emissions trading have sparked a backlash from other parts of the corporate sector, as clean energy companies accuse heavy industry of double standards and energy efficiency experts question the assumptions underpinning the council’s analysis.

The BCA last week released a paper, prepared by consultancy Port Jackson Partners, which used confidential company financial data to conclude that at least three major companies would have to shut down if the government proceeded with its proposed model for emissions trading.

The BCA urged the government to give more compensation to trade-exposed industries, to start out with a very low carbon price and to scrap its 20 per cent renewable energy target once emissions trading starts.

Rob Grant, chief executive of renewable energy company Pacific Hydro, warned there was a double standard at work. “It is ironic that these same industries claim on one hand that industry development mechanisms like the 20 per cent national renewable energy target are market distortions and should be scrapped yet on the other hand are asking for varying degrees of exemptions, carve outs and other special treatment under an emissions trading scheme,” he said. “In this debate it seems that one person’s industry assistance is another person’s market distortion, the delineation of opinion depends on whether you are an incumbent or emerging industry.”

PJP’s modeling has come under fire for assuming that trade-exposed companies would be unable to either reduce their carbon exposure through energy efficiency measure or pass on costs to customer or suppliers.

Critics also say the modeling ignores any benefits to the economy of emissions trading, such as growth in the clean energy sector.

Energy efficiency consultant Alan Pears, an adjunct professor at RMIT University, rejected the assumption that there were few opportunities for emissions intensive companies to improve their energy efficiency because those industries would already have implemented any cost saving measures. “In most cases that’s rubbish,” he said.

For instance, Mr Pears said industries like aluminum and pulp and paper had already shown the potential of co-generation whereby they sell excess clean energy into the grid.

Jonathan Jutsen, executive director of business development at Energetics, said a recent survey by the consultancy found most companies believe they can save more money through better energy efficiency.

“Many of those companies have still got a fair way to go in implementing the opportunities that exist,” he said.

“A lot of companies long term are picking up 10 per cent to 30 per cent improvements but it takes a concerted effort.”

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