7 June 2011 – The Climate Institute says the evidence is mounting that the economy can grow on the back of clean energy and energy efficiency and has called for government investment in these emerging industries.

Chief executive officer John Conner welcomed Treasury reports showing strong growth in Australia’s economy as a price on pollution begins to decarbonise the nation’s heaviest polluting industries, but he sounded a warning.

“Policymakers must also ensure the carbon package unlocks investment in energy efficiency and a range of clean energy technology, not just a default option of gas for electricity generation, “ Mr Connor said.

“The debate is finally moving from the fog and fear of scare campaigns to a focus on facts and outcomes. These early results, like all previous modelling confirm that Australians will continue to prosper as we move to end our dependence on pollution.

“Every piece of economic modeling done to date has shown that Australia’s economy will continue to expand as we cut pollution and unlock our world class renewable energy resources.”

Mr Connor said in a statement the evidence flew in the face of scare campaigns being run by those in politics, business and media “seemingly determined to allow industry to continue a free run for those polluting our skies with carbon”.

He said a commitment to the proposed National Energy Savings Initiative was needed as well as a stringent emissions performance standard introduced alongside a carbon price to avoid becoming too dependent on gas for electricity.

“While switching from coal to gas can deliver large cuts to pollution in the short-term, in the longer-term we need to see a switch to zero-pollution energy sources.

“The Multi Party Climate Change Committee should be looking to a package of measures that will unlock Australia’s world-class renewable energy resources and drive much greater investments in energy efficiency.

“Making the big polluters pay for the pollution they cause is the cheapest and most economically efficient way to address climate change, but we will need to see other complementary policies to provide a long-term low-pollution investment pathway for the economy,” he said.