Engineers 'frustrated' at government's energy efficiency neglect

16 Nov 2009Archived News Energetics in the News

PUBLISHED: CE Daily - Jonathan Jutsen, Executive Director and Founder, Energetics Pty Ltd spoke about his frustration at the lack of energy efficient changes at the Energy Efficiency Councils' conference in Melbourne last week.

Energy efficiency experts have vented their frustration at the Federal Government's focus on market-based instruments at the expense of demand side initiatives to achieve greenhouse gas reductions.

At last week's Energy Efficiency Council conference, Energetics executive director Jon Jutsen said federal policy-makers believe that the introduction of the CPRS and the resulting increase in energy costs will be incentive enough for large energy users to cut their consumption.

"I'm one of the people trying to convince [the Government] otherwise and it's been very, very frustrating, I don't understand the psychology of it," he said.

Jutsen said achieving significant reduction in energy use will require a major transformation of the industrial sector over the next decade.

"To do that we've got to change the status quo," he said.

"A CPRS driving a 10% or 20% increase in energy over a five-year period… is not enough in and of itself to drive that change."

"If you want to make that sort of change, you've got to provide a serious incentive for organisations," said Jutsen.

Market-based measures "mean that bureaucrats and ministers don't have to make decisions", added Phil Harrington, executive manager of climate change at Pitt and Sherry Consulting Engineers.

"I've butted my head against this for the last 20 years as well," he said.

"It passes the risk associated with picking winners back to someone else. They're very, very popular for that reason," said Harrington.

Business, not politicians to blame, says Thwaites
But Monash Sustainability Institute chair and former Victorian Environment Minister, John Thwaites, said resistance to energy efficiency policy measures is "not just something that happens in Canberra".

"I can tell you [this] as a politician who introduced in this state the first five-star residential housing legislation… which requires major industry to not only do energy efficiency audits, but implement them," he said.

"There was massive opposition from business. The Housing Industry Association fought the residential regulation all the way, and the Master Builders," said Thwaites.

Australia 'not pragmatically driven' on climate change, says IEA
Australia and other southern hemisphere countries including New Zealand and Chile are "ideologically rather than pragmatically driven" in their response to climate change, according to Dr Nigel Jollands, head of the International Energy Agency's energy efficiency unit.

Jollands said that in southern hemisphere countries, market-based instruments are viewed as "the sine qua non, the thing that you must have".

"In the northern hemisphere, I think they're more pragmatic and they're more interested in working on things that work and deliver rather than being ideologically-driven," he said.

But Jollands added that there is "a very strong case" for market-based instruments.

"They are actually an important and fundamental framework on which to build an energy efficiency policy portfolio," he said.

"But I would encourage all Australian and New Zealand and Chilean policy-makers to make sure they don't get blinded by ideology, and dismiss the things that have been proven to work."

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