How states and territories compare on climate action

With a near vacuum on climate change action at the federal level, and federal ministers even agitating to further reduce already paltry efforts, attention is increasingly being placed on the states to pick up the baton.

And for the most part, they’re not disappointing. NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT have all set net zero targets for 2050. Tasmania has a less ambitious and already met 60 per cent reduction target based on 1990 levels, while Queensland has committed to a 50 per cent renewable target by 2030 and Western Australia is being lobbied heavily to act ahead of the state election.

This week the Victorian government announced a 2020 target on its way to net zero – a 15-20 per cent cut on 2005 levels. Most will be achieved by the closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station, though renewables and energy efficiency will also play a strong part.

To keep up with the state climate landscape, law firm Norton Rose Fulbright recently released a legal update on state government policies.

Called Australia’s climate policy: The emerging patchwork, the publication provides businesses with carbon reduction, renewable energy and energy efficiency snapshots for each state and territory, as well as providing investment opportunities currently available or likely to develop as Australia’s Paris Agreement obligations kick in.

“As most national corporations or organisations would attest to, having different regulatory and policy regimes across different jurisdictions in which they operate is neither desirable nor ideal. However, for the present time it seems inevitable that this approach will continue to emerge in the climate change arena,” the paper states.

Here are some key points from Norton Rose Fulbright:

ACT

Emissions reductions 

  • A long term goal to achieve zero net emissions by 30 June 2050
  • An interim target to reduce emissions to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020

Renewables

  • A target of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020 – the highest incremental renewable energy target in Australia
  • The installation of 36MW of energy storage by 2020 – the first energy storage reverse auction in Australia

Energy efficiency

  • Energy efficiency targets are set and achieved through the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme (EEIS), a compulsory scheme for energy retailers. Participating retailers must achieve an Energy Savings Target of 8.6 per cent a year from 2016 to 2020.

New South Wales

Emissions reductions 

  • A long-term emissions reduction objective of achieving net zero emissions by 2050

Renewables

  • The NSW Renewable Energy Action Plan, released in 2013, supports the achievement of the former national target of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020 but does not set a state- specific renewable energy target
  • In 2015 NSW (including the ACT) generated 7.7 per cent of its total energy from renewable sources

Energy efficiency

  • In 2011 the NSW Government set a target to realise annual energy savings of 16,000 GWh by 2020, which is the equivalent of saving enough energy to power over 2.6 million NSW homes for a year
  • The government is also helping to assist 50 per cent of NSW commercial floor space achieve a four-star NABERS energy and water rating by 2020
  • The NSW Energy Savings Scheme established under the Electricity Supply Act 1995 creates financial incentives for organisations to invest in energy savings projects
  • The Local Government Act 1993 authorises local councils to enter into environmental upgrade agreements (EUAs) with building owners and finance providers to upgrade or retrofit non-residential or multi-residential buildings of more than 20 lots
  • The Government Resource Efficiency Policy provides targets for cost-effective actions to save energy by government agencies, but is currently voluntary for local councils

Northern Territory

Emissions reductions

  • In August 2016, the Labor party was elected to government. The new government has not yet announced any policy details concerning emissions reduction targets or climate change more generally.

Renewables

  • The Northern Territory Government has promised to adopt a renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030
  • At present, less than one per cent of the NT’s energy comes from renewable energy sources

Energy efficiency

  • No information provided

Queensland

Emissions reductions

  • No emissions reduction target

Renewables

  • The Queensland Government has committed to investigating a renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030
  • It has set a target of one million solar rooftops (or 3000MW of solar generation capacity) by 2020

Energy efficiency

  • The state has committed to investigating new policy options to improve energy efficiency in new and existing government buildings

South Australia

Emissions reductions 

  • A net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, however no interim targets have been set

Renewables

  • A renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2025
  • Currently, more than 40 per cent of electricity generation is from renewable sources

Energy efficiency

  • A target of improving energy efficiency of government buildings by 30 per cent by 2020 and of dwellings by 15 per cent by 2020
  • The Retailer Energy Efficiency Scheme requires that energy retailers assist households and businesses to reduce their energy use and costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions
  • The Building Upgrade Finance mechanism will facilitate building owners’ access to funds to improve energy, water and environment efficiency of commercial buildings
  • The Energy Productivity Program will provide electricity users that use more than 160MWh of electricity a year with subsidies to cover energy audits, implement audit recommendations to use energy more efficiently and to identify major energy saving opportunities

Tasmania

Emissions reductions

  • Tasmania has a legislated target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 60 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050, which has already been met.
  • The Climate Change (State Action) Act 2008 is under review, which will examine the appropriateness of Tasmania’s 2050 emissions reduction target

Renewables

  • Tasmania does not have a renewable energy target. However, rainfall permitting, Tasmania does have sufficient renewable energy capacity to turn its fossil fuel generators off and run on 100 per cent of renewable electricity, including hydro, wind and solar power.

Energy efficiency

  • Up to $10 million in funding is available for interest-free loans for up to five years to households and small business to install approved energy efficient equipment and appliances

Victoria

Emissions reductions

  • A long-term target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

Renewables 

  • Renewable energy targets of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025

Energy efficiency

  • The 2016 energy efficiency target is 5.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, increasing to 5.9 million tonnes in 2017 and 6.1 million tonnes in 2018
  • The Victorian Energy Efficiency Target scheme is designed to assist Victoria in meeting its energy efficiency targets
  • Environmental upgrades are also encouraged through Environmental Upgrade Agreements (EUAs), which are administered by local councils

Western Australia

Emissions reductions 

  • No emissions reduction target

Renewables 

  • The WA Government has expressed a general desire to contribute to the national renewable energy target of 20 per cent renewable generation by 2020 by continuing to support investment in renewable energy.

Energy efficiency

  • No state-specific energy efficiency programs mentioned

Read the full report.

 

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