– 31 March 2010 – The formation of the Prime Minister’s Task Group on Energy Efficiency has been welcomed by environment and green groups for its promises of economic benefits and emissions reduction.

The Task Group, which will make recommendations for generating a step-change improvement in Australia’s energy efficiency, also released for public discussion an Issues Paper that outlines strategies on how to achieve ambitious improvements in energy efficiency.

See Lynne Blundell’s report on the Issues Paper

Nine industry and non-government sector experts will act as advisers to the Task Group, including John Connor from The Climate Institute, Greg Bourne from WWF, Sharan Burrow from the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Neil Marshman from Rio Tinto, Clare Martin from the Australian Council of Social Service, Karen Moses from Origin Energy, Rob Murray-Leach from the Energy Efficiency Council, Cameron O’Reilly from the Energy Retailers Association of Australia and Brian Spalding from the Australian Energy Market Commission.

Chief executive of the Climate Institute, John Connor, said that the increased focus on providing a more energy efficient economy is key to long term sustainability.

“Australia has one of the most climate polluting and energy wasting economies in the developed world,” said John Connor

“Energy efficiency is a key piece of the climate action jigsaw but we can’t avoid the need for limits and prices on climate pollution if we are to increase our competitiveness and reduce harmful pollution.”

Rob Murray-Leach, chief executive of the Energy Efficiency Council believes that even in the absence of climate change, there are still significant economic drivers for improving Australia’s energy efficiency.

“A recent report from Australia’s top 200 energy users showed the massive benefits of energy efficiency to the Australian economy. Just 200 companies found ways to cut their energy use that would also save them $736 million and cut Australia’s greenhouse gasses by 1.1 per cent. Imagine if we did that across the whole economy,” said Murray-Leach.

The economic and environmental benefits of energy efficiency are also supported by ClimateWorks, who last week released a report highlighting the significant opportunities that energy efficiency offers Australia.

“Energy efficiency could deliver over 20 per cent of the cuts we need to reduce Australia’s emissions by a quarter by 2020” said Mr Murray-Leach. “That’s a truly stunning figure. This means we can dramatically cut Australia’s emissions through measures that actually strengthen our economy.”

“The ClimateWorks report shows that energy efficiency is also the cheapest way to cut emissions. For every tonne of carbon dioxide we save in industry through energy efficiency, we save $100. For every tonne of carbon dioxide we save in buildings, we save $90.”