Mike Baird turning the corner on climate and energy

Leading commentators such as Alan Pears, Jon Jutsen and Jeff Angel all came in early to applaud the NSW government’s new climate targets.

It’s late but it’s great. And what’s even better is that NSW’s swashbuckling announcement today (Thursday ) on ambitious and pretty well funded climate targets will put on notice the other limp states and Feds and signal that NSW really does mean business.

Key announcement in the package that hit the headlines from the Premier Mike Baird, was zero emissions target by 2050 and $500 million of funding over the next five years to get there. With $400 million spread evenly between renewables and energy efficiency.

This is brilliant news for this sustainable property sector that’s been so badly battered and bruised in recent years. The bully has moved out of the House, (now he needs to take his mates with him); and the rest of us can get on with our lives again.

Green advocates were pleased indeed, though they pointed out that there was more to do. If the premier wants the recent negative polls on him to fade away, then he needs to ramp up this kind of work, because this is what will win him the kudos. Dirty new roads, land clearing and ditching great old trees to please a handful of vested interests is what gives the bad. The people are getting on board with the climate challenge and the anti pollution healthy challenge.  Check the surveys, check the supermarket shelves, check the friends and family around you. They want out of this mess and they want it now.

Leading energy gurus Alan Pears, said it was good news and Jon Jutsen said it was now time for a bi-partisan approach.  Total Environment Centre’s Jeff Angel said the announcement will have far reaching, positive impacts on the state’s economy and environment. Here are their comments.

In a statement received at noon on Thursday the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council claimed that many of the recommendations contained in its report Low Carbon, High Performance, have been picked up in the government’s plan, which is still in draft form. ASBEC members were urged to submit responses.

Jon Jutsen, a member of the NSW climate Council.  

I want to congratulate the NSW government on its decisions and the elevation of focus in government on an integrated approach to climate and energy policy.

The key now is to have a national bipartisan approach to climate and energy so we can capitalise on economic opportunities from addressing these issues proactively now, to accelerate innovation, and to minimise future dislocation.

Alan Pears, leading advocate for renewable energy and energy efficiency said:

The NSW government’s announcement of new climate response, renewable energy and energy efficiency strategies is good news. It is just one example of our competitive democracy at work. We are also seeing other state and territory governments, led by the ACT, moving to fill the vacuum created by policy chaos and inaction at the national level.

The fundamental need for major reduction in carbon emissions is clear. At the same time, individual states are jockeying to capture bigger shares of the economic development opportunities that emerge from change.

The NSW government is positioning itself to capture more benefit from energy efficiency, which can deliver a lot of emission reduction at negative costs – yes, a profit! It also helps to depress wholesale electricity prices by reducing demand, so that the wholesale price for all generators is set by a cheaper power station.

And it creates more jobs and limits overall electricity costs for voters and businesses. The only losers are the existing energy supply industries.

As studies done under the Abbott government showed, even though large scale renewable electricity costs more than power from existing power stations, it bids into the wholesale electricity market at low prices, because it has to run when wind or sun is available.

This depresses the wholesale electricity price. It effectively offsets the cost of the renewable energy subsidy – at the expense of non-renewable power generator profits, as demand for traditional electricity is depressed.

Renewable generators can do this because they gain income from both the wholesale market and the renewable energy target. And, thanks to the chaos caused by Tony Abbott’s government, renewable energy certificate prices have doubled, so they can afford to earn even less from selling electricity than in the past!

Smart governments, like the ACT, have been driving energy efficiency and renewable energy harder already, to offset the potential use of market power by the big electricity generators as old generators inevitably shut down. NSW and other states have to move now to manage wholesale electricity prices as the market evolves. The only real surprise is that it has taken them so long to act.

The challenge for the incumbent energy industries is that there is a lot more potential to cut energy demand profitably, and for ongoing decline in the cost of renewable energy.

Jeff Angel, executive director, Total Environment Centre

It will need a wide range of concrete and specific programs across key pollution sources such as land clearing, energy production and urban development.  A number of major policy areas are already in flux and will need to be brought into line with the new target.

To reach the 2050 target, substantial action will have to start now and the community will be looking for effective policies.”

For example, Sydney is about to review its Metro Plan via the Greater Sydney Commission and inevitably low emission transport, energy efficient buildings and expanding tree cover will have to become prominent.

Land clearing laws, which are proposed to be weakened across the state must be redrafted.  And NSW should quickly phase out coal fired power.’

The credo for a 21st century state is to be green and resilient in the face of climate change and play its part in global efforts to thwart dangerous climate change.  We look forward to examining the government’s detailed plans.

We will bring more responses as they come to hand.

UPDATE 12.20 pm

The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council

The NSW Government released a new NSW Climate Change Policy Framework and announced a $500 million ‘Environmental future funding package’.

 The Climate Change Policy Framework sets out two aspirational objectives:

  • achieving net zero emissions by 2050
  • NSW being more resilient to a changing climate

Two draft climate change and energy savings documents have been released for public consultation:

Several of the recommendations outlined in Low Carbon, High Performance have been picked up in the Draft Plan to Save Energy and Money, including:

  • Advocating for the Australian Building Codes Board to introduce robust, cost-effective standards for new commercial buildings (LCHP Recommendation 2.1)
  • Supporting the GEMS program by advocating to the COAG Energy Council that the work be better resourced. (LCHP Recommendation 2.4)
  • Improving energy efficiency for tenanted homes, potentially through performance standards, such as meeting minimum energy efficiency ratings before properties can be leased  (LCHP Recommendation 2.5)
  • A mechanism for new State significant developments and major infrastructure to achieve higher sustainability and energy efficiency standards and/or implement cost effective energy-saving opportunities; and Minimum energy performance standards for hotels used by government for accommodation and events in metropolitan areas. (LCHP Recommendation 3.1)
  • A program to support local councils to apply GREP and target facilities and assets which consume large amounts of energy. (LCHP Recommendation 3.2)
  • Continue the Home Energy Action Program for vulnerable households (LCHP Recommendation 3.12)
  • Advocating for the Commonwealth Government to require commercial buildings other than medium to large office buildings (such as retail buildings and data centres) to disclose their energy performance under the CBD program.  (LCHP Recommendation 5.3)
  • Introducing a program to enable home owners and investors to assess energy efficiency performance ratings and display a rating at the point of sale. (LCHP Recommendation 5.4)

The Climate Change Fund Draft Strategic Plan also picks up on several of the State-level recommendations outlined ASBEC’s Built Environment Adaptation Framework, including improving information on local climate change impacts; improve building standards and planning requirements to take into account the impacts of climate change; and unlocking funds for local communities to respond to climate change.

This is good news.  Importantly, ASBEC members should be involved in the consultation process for these draft documents: Consultation ends 16 December 2016

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  1. Guys, guys, don’t be completely naive. The key word is “aspirational”. That translates as “We know you’d all like to see some swift, effective action, so we’re announcing that we’ll have a plan to have a plan at some stage in the future … after we’ve locked in as many climate destroying projects as we can, and then we’ll ignore it”.

    Mike is just kidding. He’s Mr Billions. He announces things all the time that he knows full well have Buckley’s chance of happening. This is just cover for new climate destroying coal mines, motorways, etc.