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Historic Carbon Vote a Win/Win for Australia's Economy and Global Action

This post is based on a release that originally appeared on the website of The Climate Institute.

Australia’s House of Representatives voted to pass the Clean Energy Future Legislation on October 12th. The legislative package will put a price on carbon pollution, promote investment in renewable and clean energy technologies and support action to reduce carbon pollution. OCN partner The Climate Institute welcomed the vote, saying it creates the potential for a win-win of a cleaner, more competitive economy and more credible co-operation to boost international actions to tackle climate change. The legislation, which is likely to be passed by the Senate, is projected to reduce up to 1 billion tons of CO2-equivalent by 2020 compared to a business-as-usual scenario – the equivalent of taking over 200 million cars off the road for a year.1

The existing Renewable Energy Target and policies that come with these laws, like the $10 billion Clean Energy Fund and Carbon Farming Initiative, can develop the technologies, skills, and jobs crucial to reducing the Australian economy’s dependence on carbon.

Internationally, Australia can now credibly join other nations in addressing the risks and costs of accelerating climate change to which Australia is so exposed. Current global commitments and action are significant but, so far, insufficient to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The potential of this legislation to drive strong pollution reductions at lowest cost will be crucial in allowing Australia to fully and fairly contribute to an outcome under the Kyoto Protocol and Climate Convention negotiations in Durban next month and beyond.

The domestic task now is to ensure government and private sector investments connect with climate solutions in clean energy, like solar, wind, and geothermal power, and other opportunities like carbon farming and energy efficiency. Two top priorities going forward are to follow through on the Government’s commitment to develop a national energy savings scheme and to ensure long term investors, like superannuation funds and the Future Fund, better factor in systemic climate risks and low carbon economic opportunities.

Throughout this debate some have tried to frame a price on pollution as being a cost or a risk to Australia. In fact, the legislation creates opportunity, and The Climate Institute is pleased that parliamentarians have recognized this opportunity and voted in Australia's national interest.

This post is the work of an Open Climate Network partner. The World Resources Institute is not responsible for the content or opinions expressed by the author.

  1. The 1 billion tonnes figure is the cumulative reduction from the projected business as usual pollution increase that would follow if Australia reduced its 2000 pollution levels by 25 per cent by 2020. Both the Government and the Liberal Party support reduction targets of 5 to 25 per cent dependent on global action.  See: ( ↩︎

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