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South Australia opens landmark climate change strategy for feedback

The South Australian government is calling for business and community feedback on a new strategy to transition to a low carbon economy it says will unlock $10 billion in investment by 2025.

The state on Wednesday released six consultation papers on its climate change strategy for comment, as well as announced a new SA Low Carbon Economy Experts Panel comprising climate leaders Dr John Hewson, Professor Frank Jotzo and Anna Skarbek.

The panel will advise the government on climate change policy, including how to secure the best economic opportunities for the state, premier Jay Weatherill said.

“With significant runs already on the board, South Australia is well positioned to be a world leader on climate change policy – and we must ensure we maximise opportunities to create new jobs,” Mr Weatherill said.

“We know South Australia needs a truly international economy that engages with the world; we have to be innovative and support new industries, and these industries and jobs are in the low-carbon economy.”

The consultation papers seek to “collate the views and ideas of government, stakeholders and the community in order to develop a comprehensive policy framework for climate change action”. They include an overview paper as well as five specific consultation papers on leadership, emissions reduction, the Carbon Neutral Adelaide strategy, adaptation and innovation.

A Low Carbon Investment Plan for South Australia strategy paper has also been released, designed to stimulate discussion about strategies and initiatives to achieve the government’s $10 billion investment target in low carbon generation investment by 2025.

The strategy paper said that 1330 direct full-time equivalent jobs had been created in South Australia thanks to the renewables industry, representing 11 per cent of national levels.

“For every direct construction and maintenance job created in the wind industry, two indirect jobs are created,” it said.

Energy and mineral resources minister Tom Koutsantonis said the strategy paper showed South Australia was determined to continue its leadership in renewable energy.

“We have created thousands of jobs and already generated $6.6 billion of investment in renewable energy, of which 40 per cent is located in regional South Australia,” he said.

“The strategy paper sets out how the $10 billion target can be achieved, as well as feedback on new ideas to support investment with a focus on innovative and cost-competitive future technologies.

“Other states and territories are looking at South Australia and joining the race for renewable investment – our low carbon investment plan will help us continue to lead Australia as well as help create jobs and boost economic development, particularly in our regions.”

The strategy also refers to nuclear and unconventional gas as “helping to shape a sustainable, low carbon future”, which may elicit some particularly strong feedback from certain sectors.

Climate change minister Ian Hunter pointed to the government’s goal of making the City of Adelaide the first zero carbon city in the work as an example of how seriously the government was taking the transition to low carbon economy.

“We are determined to make Adelaide a showcase city for renewables and clean technology, to attract investment and create new jobs,” he said.

Chair of the premier’s Climate Change Council Bruce Carter said due to national international policy developments, as well as the rapidity of technological changes, it was appropriate to update the State’s climate change strategy.

“Events will be held in regional and metropolitan locations over the coming weeks to seek a wide range of input from industry, business, local government and the community on what should be included in the new strategy and the Carbon Neutral Adelaide action plan,” he said.

“We want to encourage a wide range of views around climate change measures that are dynamic and adaptive.”

Submissions close on Sunday 18 October 2015, and the final strategy is due to be released in December 2015.

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