Strategy for 50% greenhouse gas reduction
- <?fontfamily><?param Helvetica><?bigger><?bigger>MEDIA RELEASE
Helvetica><?bigger>Embargo Monday 25 September 2000, 1600 hours
<?bigger><?bigger>Strategy for 50% Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Times>An expert on sustainable energy today challenged all levels of
government in Australia to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, saying that we
could cost-effectively make enormous savings with only small improvements in
Over the next 30 years Australia could reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions from energy and transport by 50%, compared with the 1990 level,
and by 2010 could meet its "weak" Kyoto Protocol commitment to an 8%
increase compared with the 1990 level.
These claims are made in a discussion paper circulated today by Professor
Mark Diesendorf, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the
University of Technology, Sydney.
In the run up to the 6th Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change
Convention, to be held in The Hague in mid-November, Professor Diesendorf
proposes that a number of key actions be adopted by Federal, State and Local
"My overall strategy is that the economic savings achieved by substantial
increases in the efficiency of energy use and the removal of subsidies to
inefficient energy use be used to fund the transition to an energy supply
system based on a mix of renewable energy and natural gas sources for
electricity, heating and cooling, and a greater role for public transport,
cycling and walking in cities", he says.
He suggests that over a billion dollars a year could be redirected from tax
concessions and other de facto subsidies by Federal and State Governments
that currently encourage greenhouse gas emissions, including:
o tax deductions for the purchase and use of company and government cars;
o very low import duty on 4-wheel drive vehicles compared with that on cars;
o subsidies to oil exploration and to the production of shale oil, a fuel
with double the GHG emissions of petrol;
o cheap electricity and infrastructure received by aluminium smelting;
o biased funding of roads compared with infrastructure for public transport,
cycling and walking;
o failure to follow New Zealand's lead and implement mass-distance charges
for heavy trucks in populous areas of Australia;
o inadequate taxes on car parking in city centres and sub-centres.
Using the revenue obtained from eliminating these and other concessions,
Professor Diesendorf proposes a number of key actions to reduce emissions,
o Increase the funding to local governments from the Cities for Climate
Protection program of the Australian Greenhouse Office by a factor of 10.
The present funding, he says, only provides the "microscopic" average amount
of about $3,500 p.a. per Council.
o With this and other funding, Councils would develop integrated local
transport and land use plans and implementation programs, including demand
management of traffic, improved facilities for cyclists and pedestrians,
orientation of streets and blocks in new subdivisions, and incentive
programs for local businesses to monitor and reduce GHG emissions.
o Increase the modest target for new renewable electricity generation from
2% to 5% of total electricity demand in 2010 and set a similar target for
renewable sources of heat.
o Mandate energy ratings and energy performance standards for all homes,
equipment and appliances.
o Adopt legislation similar to the USA's Transportation Equity Act, which
requires roads to compete with rail for federal funding, and includes
environmental impacts in assessments of proposals.
o Ensure that new investments in major transport links, suburbs, power
stations, shopping centres and employment centres are planned to minimise
GHG emissions, as partially implemented in the UK. In practise, this could
mean a ban on new urban freeways, new coal-fired power stations and new
shopping malls located outside walking distance of public transport nodes.
o Remove subsidies from electricity and fuel prices in rural areas, and
replace them with equivalent rural-area location allowances. This would
enable country people to invest in cost-effective energy efficiency
measures, solar hot water and small-scale solar and wind power.
o Remove incentives for selling excessive electricity from electricity
retailers in all States. The goal should be the reduction of energy bills,
not the price of a unit of electricity.
Professor Diesendorf points out that most of these proposed actions would
involve institutional change and so would be inexpensive to implement. A few
would require "real funding".
"For Australia's international credibility, something similar to this
package of key actions is essential", he says.
<?/fontfamily><?/bigger>Further information: Professor Mark Diesendorf
Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology,
phone (02) 9209 4353 bh direct; fax (02) 9209 4351; email:
The complete discussion paper can be viewed on http://www.isf.uts.edu.au/,
see under News.