8 October 2010 – Following are highlights of reactions to the Report b the Prime Minister’s Task Group on Energy Efficiency

The Greens:
The Gillard government should move ahead immediately with energy efficiency policies which cut household and business costs while reducing our impact on the climate.

The recommendations appear to be largely in line with Greens policies, though not as ambitious. They include a national energy efficiency target scheme, removal of the Fringe Benefits Tax Concession which rewards driving longer distances and a form of efficiency standard for light vehicles.

“Energy efficiency is such a no-brainer that it is baffling that successive governments have allowed Australia to fall so far behind the world. It’s time to catch up,” Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

“I will be encouraging Minister Combet to act on the recommendations of this report as fast as possible whilst continuing progress towards a carbon price.

“In fact, getting started with efficiency measures will show the community how much we can all save on our energy bills with a bit of effort and smooth the path to a carbon price.

“The Greens have proposed an energy efficiency target scheme to run in parallel to the renewable energy target scheme as an efficient and effective way to help householders and businesses find ways to save on their energy bills and we’re pleased to see a similar recommendation in this report.

“However, it would be a huge missed opportunity if that target were set at such a weak level that our energy demand kept rising. With a little ambition, we can actually turn around Australia’s sky-rocketing energy demand and start to use less energy to do more.”

The Green Building Council of Australia

Chief Executive of the GBCA, Romilly Madew:  “We are delighted to see the report identify some of the opportunities within the built environment -although I emphasise that there are many more opportunities to be embraced than those outlined in the report,” Ms Madew said.

“Green building is one of the world’s fastest growing industries and many buildings and communities can now produce their own energy through solar, photovoltaic, wind, cogeneration, trigeneration and biogas initiatives, among many other approaches,” Ms Madew explains.

“Energy efficiency schemes and technologies are readily available now – they
don’t have to be expensive to implement, and they’re not complicated to understand.”

The GBCA was pleased with the current multi-partisan discussions about a price on carbon.

“Certainty in the market is important.  Australian business, as well as the general public, should be part of the conversation so that they can fully understand the benefits, the value and the long-term significance to the economy, the environment, policy and productivity.

The Australian Conservation Foundation
The recommendations of the Prime Minister’s taskforce on energy efficiency will help reduce electricity bills for Australian households and businesses and should be implemented immediately.

“This report on energy efficiency joins the chorus of voices in Australia calling for a price on pollution to help us make the switch to a cleaner economy,” ACF executive director Don Henry said.

“A target to improve the energy efficiency of the Australian economy by 30 per cent by 2020 will help Australia catch up with countries like China, which has improved its efficiency by 20 per cent over the last five years.

“The recommendation for a national energy savings initiative to replace existing state schemes is welcome and should be swiftly put into practice.

“ACF urges the government to begin implementing these reforms now in parallel with the necessary introduction of a price on pollution.”

The Energy Efficiency Council
This report is a wake-up call for Australia. It shows that energy efficiency programs would strengthen the economy, cut energy bills and slash carbon emissions. This is a win-win-win,” said Rob Murray-Leach, chief executive of the EEC and adviser to the Task Group.

Energy efficiency saves money simply because it uses less of a valuable resource. Modelling on just one measure, the National Energy Savings Initiative, found that it would save households up to $296 a year. This means that Australia has a huge opportunity to cut its carbon emissions and save money.

ClimateWorks Australia estimates that improving Australia’s energy efficiency would save homes and businesses $5 billion a year and cut emissions by 50 million tonnes a year.

Energy efficiency is the single biggest opportunity to cut global carbon emissions. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) estimates that 55 per cent of emission cuts in Australia to 2050 will need to come from energy efficiency.

“The rest of the world worked out that energy efficiency would boost their global competitiveness some time ago, and have been steaming ahead. In the meantime, we’ve been pouring money down the drain. Australia has a fantastic opportunity to turn this around,” said Rob Murray-Leach.

The report identifies a range of barriers that there are a range of barriers to energy efficiency. The report states that this means that we need multiple policies to drive energy efficiency, including a price on carbon price and dedicated energy efficiency policies.

“We have to have a price on carbon to meet Australia’s 2020 emission reduction targets. However, a price on carbon needs to be accompanied by energy efficiency policies – this will dramatically lower the cost of meeting our targets,” said Rob Murray-Leach.

Australian Carbon Trust
Australian Carbon Trust Chairman, Robert Hill said the report contained some far reaching recommendations to put Australia on a pathway for a step-change in energy efficiency as part of moving to a low carbon economy.

“Tackling climate change requires action on all fronts and this report confirms energy efficiency as one of the very important strategies that Australia needs to lower its carbon emissions.

“Australian Carbon Trust will be an important part of this approach, working with Australian business and community to promote investment in energy efficiency solutions to achieve cost-effective carbon reductions.

“The mission of Australian Carbon Trust is to use Energy Efficiency to accelerate Australia’s move to a low carbon economy.

Australian Carbon Trust CEO, Meg McDonald said energy efficiency was the biggest, cheapest, fastest way to cut emissions and widely regarded as offering some of the most cost-effective actions to mitigate climate change.

“The built environment accounts for nearly a quarter of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

“Energy savings in buildings could save more carbon dioxide emissions than the entire level of emissions from the transport sector.

“That is our focus at Australian Carbon Trust. We are working closely with the business sector to help them become more energy efficient.

“We are rolling out two new innovative programs to achieve this goal,” she said.

These programs are:

  • An energy efficiency scheme to provide finance to eligible businesses for the retrofit of commercial properties.
  • Carbon Neutral Program which will certify products and operations that have successfully measured, reduced and offset emissions.

Australian Carbon Trust is a new and independent company funded by the Australian Federal Government that commenced operations in March 2010.

The Climate Institute

The Institute urged the Government to fast-track the implementation of the proposed national energy savings initiative as the key mechanism to deliver a step change in energy savings for Australian households and business.

“The Task Group’s report provides a welcome blueprint for helping Australian households and businesses reduce their energy bills, and contribute to national efforts to reduce the economy’s dependence on pollution,” said Erwin Jackson, The Climate Institute’s deputy chief executive officer.

“Australia’s energy efficiency efforts lag well behind our key trading partners.

“Strong energy efficiency policies could deliver financial savings to households and businesses as well as sparking investment, innovation and job creation,” he said.

The central mechanism proposed by the Task Group to deliver a step change in energy efficiency is a national energy savings initiative, which would set a mandatory energy savings obligation to incentivise investments in energy efficiency. The Task Group estimates this initiative would reduce household energy bills by as much as $296 a year and save up to $12 billion through deferred infrastructure costs.

“The proposed energy savings initiative is critical to success on energy

Importantly the Task Group notes that a price-tag on pollution is key to ensuring Australia meets its pollution reduction targets of up to 25 percent off 2000 levels by 2020.