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Australia

Australia

Kyoto targets will be missed

In evidence being submitted to the Senate inquiry on Australia's response to global warming, the only point of agreement between the utility sector and the pro-renewables lobby is that the country's Kyoto targets will not be met. Even while admitting that the "supply sector . . . should do more to reduce its level of emissions," the Electricity Supply Association of Australia (ESAA) says the Kyoto target probably cannot be met until 2020. ESAA represents the interests of primarily coal fired generators. Its submission to the inquiry focuses on costs related to emissions reduction and the necessity for these to be "shared around equitably and not loaded onto the most prominent sectors." ESAA's David Eiszele, while claiming that his organisation is not "anti-renewable," states that ESAA cannot see how renewables can be integrated into an "economically efficient emissions trading program." For their part, the Sustainable Energy Industry Association (SEIA) and Australia and New Zealand Solar Energy Society (ANZSES) jointly stress the positive potential of renewables to create employment and exports. They also wage war on the "big myth" that greenhouse responses are too expensive and not cost-effective, pointing to the environmental, social and political costs of not reducing emissions. SEIA says that even though the Senate inquiry is not binding on government, it has an important function "illuminating matters."

Contradictions

New Zealand's renewables policy is in a state of confusion as three different ministries send conflicting plans for future energy development. In February the ministry of economic development (MED) called for a decline in renewables production by 30% over the next 30 years, along with significant increases in coal and gas and greenhouse gas emissions. The energy minister attacked the report immediately as being contrary to government policy, particularly in regard to a plan to ratify the Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas reductions. "But this policy direction message is not getting through to government officials," says Paul van Lieshout of the New Zealand Wind Energy Association (NZWEA). The energy minister demanded the MED redo its calculations without the use of coal -- the most dirty fuel. The MED responded with a supplementary report, replacing the coal with gas -- but no wind -- and a subsequent rise in electricity price of 26%. NZWEA argues that using wind over coal would keep prices level, as proven by the commercially viable wind farm built near Palmerston North last year.

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