Thursday, June 21, 2007

Queensland Strategy

As you may know, the Queensland Government has just released the state's new Climate Change Strategy.

There is a one month period for public comment. Why not email the people in charge of this, encouraging them to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

If you want to read the ultra-quick version, you can read the Courier Mail's article. Also, the Greens have published their own response to the plan.

If you want to read my response to the Government, click on the "comments" link below.

1 comment:

david said...

Dear Queensland Government

I have read your Climate Smart 2050 document. While most of the ideas are good, i do have some questions and comments on a number of items within the document.

Why is there such a preference for "clean coal" technology over renewables? The amount of support outlined for renewable power is measely in comparison to the hundreds of millions being gambled away on "clean coal" - which is still unproven.

Why does the government plan to give up on renewable targets. The plan is for 6% by 2015, 10% by 2020 - and then there is no further increase - the government will sit on its hands and do nothing. How can we honestly say that our long-term plan to reduce greenhouse emissions is to permanently source 90% of our electricity from carbon-intensive operations?

Gas-fired power stations are a good idea, and it is right that they are 50% more greenhouse efficient - but the proposal is a much less significant than that. In fact just 18% of electricity - a mere 5% more than the current 13%. I calculate that to be a greenhouse reduction of a measely 2.7% on the current scenario.

More clarification is needed on the Queensland feed-in tariff for solar power. Is it going to be a true feed-in tariff, that is greater than the retail price of electricity? Apart from being a fair reward, this would provide a real incentive for Queenslanders to install photovoltaic panels, and help make the Sunshine State the Smart State.

Well done on the rebates for greenhouse-friendly home alterations. This is an effective way of making the best choice also the most attractive choice. Another good initiative is the legislative decisions, such as the energy ratings for new constructions, and the phasing out of electric hot water systems. Along with education, incentives and legislation form an effective strategy for a change in behaviour.

Transport is a major greenhouse emitter - so it is good to see that the government is looking at this aspect. Obviously, the easier and more convenient the government can make it for people to reduce travel emissions, the more effective it will be. Whether it's greater greenhouse efficiency by using public transport, or elimination of greenhouse emissions by walking or cycling - this is an important aspect of the strategy.

As far as cars are concerned, the stamp duty initiative is a good idea. However, as it stands, I don't think it does enough to change opinion. As one citizen on the TV news responded "How is paying 200 extra dollars going to help the environment?". Clearly he had not even considered changing his purchase. For new vehicles where there is a hybrid equivalent, why not increase the stamp duty 5-fold, and use the extra funds to remove the stamp duty on the hybrid equivalents - or even provide a hybrid vehicle rebate.

As far as leadership by example is concerned, the aims are disappointing. The target for government to use 5% greenpower is seen as a token effort, when many citizens are already using 100% greenpower. Also, the aim to be carbon neutral by 2020 is also quite weak, considering that major companies in Australia have committed to be carbon neutral by 2010 - a full decade earlier.

In conclusion, most of the ideas outlined in Climate Smart 2050 are good ones - with the obvious exception of the millions wasted on the oxymoronic "clean coal". Apart from that, my only wish is that the good moves were stronger.

For a state with such high emissions, such an abundance of renewable resources, and a claim to be the Smart State, the goals, commitments and targets contained in the document are a mere shadow of what they should be. I encourage the government to show strong leadership, have strong integrity, and make strong commitments to real reductions in greenhouse emissions.

David Weddell