At the Climate Change and Business Conference in Sydney last week, it became very apparent that Australia was missing the beat when it came to investment in cleantech and clean energy, lacking the right Government stimulus, whereas New Zealand had make its mark with an emissions trading scheme, while China was moving to cut emissions and expand clean energy in leaps and bounds. There’s hope though with the start up of two new ventures, Carbon TradeXchange and Ventura Carbon.
Report from the Climate Change and Business Conference (13 August 2010):
Despite the considerable criticism received around the Copenhagen climate change meeting for not taking on mandatory targets, China is moving ahead rapidly to reduce its emissions.
“China has just recently overtaken the US as the world’s largest consumer”, said Robert Hansor of Lloyds Register Quality Assurance. “Driven by their energy security concerns and a desire to maintain economic competitiveness, China is taking rapid action to reduce emissions.
“The statistics are impressive. In 2009, China manufactured and installed more wind capacity than any other country. They are the largest manufacturer and exporter of solar panels and they have the largest installed hydro capacity of any other country.
“An advantage China has is their ability to rapidly mobilize large amounts of capital. They have a proposed ten year energy development plan that is worth about US$740billion covering renewable energy and energy efficiency,” commented Mr Hansor.
“China does not need international agreement to aggressively implement emissions reduction measures. In fact, it can be argued that the short term absence of a binding climate agreement following Copenhagen gives China a competitive advantage in the race to win the green economy,” added Anthony Hobley, Partner and Head of Global Climate Change and Carbon Finance at Norton Rose LLP.
Mr Hansor and Mr Hobley were speaking at the 6th Australia-New Zealand Climate Change & Business Conference where over 350 delegates have gathered to look at what business can do now to reduce emissions, and what is needed from government.
Conference Communique from Sydney (12 August 2010):
Australia and New Zealand can cut their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 15% by 2020 in economically beneficial ways, according to business leaders at the 6th Australia-New Zealand Climate Change and Business Conference in Sydney.
But to do so businesses in both countries need a carbon price and a full range of other measures tailored to the specific needs of each sector, speakers from major areas of the economy told the conference.
“Australia can learn from New Zealand’s experience implementing a price on carbon and New Zealand can benefit from Australia’s experience with complementary measures,” said Gary Taylor, chairman of the Climate Change and Business Centre.
“With the right policy mix, Australia could achieve a 25% reduction in emissions from 2000 levels,” Professor John Thwaites, chairman of ClimateWorks Australia, told delegates.
“This is based on our report Charting a low carbon growth plan which analysed 54 emission reduction opportunities across 10 sectors.
“Each sector of the economy, though, has different opportunities and barriers to lowering emissions. Thus, federal, state and local governments must customise their policies and programmes for each sector to meet those needs.
“Business also needs to provide leadership, advocacy for action, low carbon growth plans and strategies to deliver sustainability goods and services,” Professor Thwaites added.
“Australia has very large scope for reducing emissions through energy efficiency,” said Jonathan Jutsen, executive director of Energetics, the major consultant to large businesses on energy and climate change.
“The Australian economy is only about 10% efficient – this means that 90% of the energy in the fuel we dig up is lost in the supply chain and end uses,” said Mr Jutsen.
A similar mix of measures would help New Zealand cut its emissions by the government’s target of 10% to 20% by 2020 from 1990 levels,” said Mr Taylor.
“New Zealand has made a good start by introducing an Emissions Trading Scheme, which is due to include all gases and all sectors. But to invest with confidence in cleaner, more competitive technologies, business needs greater long-term certainty on climate change policy and on allocation of free carbon credits to companies exposed to international trade,” Mr Taylor said.
The urgent need for strong leadership by business and government and closer collaboration between them was a strong theme of the conference. Businesses have opportunities to improve profitably through acting on energy productivity. While a price on carbon will increase the justification for action, government policy changes are required to maximise carbon mitigation. These will help support a reinvestment program to allow industry to rapidly respond to a low carbon economy.
Murray-Goulburn, the leading Australian dairy processor, can reduce its emissions by 25% by 2020 through efficiency and other measures, Patten Bridge, its general manager of sustainability, told the conference. But the co-op would wants regulations changed to support clean energy initiatives like cogeneration, rather than inhibiting them.