Australia steps up on climate action

After months of deliberation and negotiation Australia’s climate policy the Safeguard Mechanism has been strengthened to keep carbon emissions in check.

It’s the first breakthrough in carbon emission policy in more than ten years.

Let’s electrify Australia! A stylised image of Parliament House designed to represent the potential to power the nation with renewable energy

The mechanism requires the country’s top 215 polluters to reduce their emissions by 4.9% each year to 2030. The new ceiling will ensure emissions never exceed current pollution levels of 140 million tonnes a year and reduce greenhouse gasses by 205 million tonnes by 2030.

The mechanism also limits the amount of pollution corporations can write off with offset measures by requiring them to justify the use of offsets for more than 30% of their baseline, and enforces rigorous tests on new coal and gas projects to account for emissions from day one of operation.

The changes will effectively limit the approval of new gas and coal projects proposed from 116 to about 60 and puts Australia on firmer footing to meet its emission reductions target of 43% by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050.

But the battle is not over! Australia’s Greens party says there will be a fight over new coal and gas developments, all of which conflict with the IPCC report warnings and call by the UN to halt fossil fuel growth to prevent further global warming.

The updated the Safeguard Mechanism which is expected to pass the Senate in due course complements the welcome announcement of a Capacity Investment Scheme which will facilitate 6GW of renewable energy and unlock $10bn investment, help drive the net zero economy and shore up Australia’s ongoing supply of cheap, renewable, domestically produced energy.

Importantly, the Scheme encourages the ideal mix of storage and renewable technologies needed in the system over the coming decade.

Smart Energy Council’s John Grimes said “Our campaign for a renewable energy storage target has been put at the core of what government is going to do and they have added on renewable energy projects… this is a huge, a massive win for us and the renewables industry.

“It’s a great outcome, as is the scrapping of ‘SolarStopper’ or Locational Marginal Pricing.”

He described Locational Marginal Pricing as “a big and troubling policy issue that would have had the effect of new entrants, predominantly large scale solar and wind projects, subsidising existing players coal and gas.

“This would have put the brakes on Australia’s ability to achieve 82% renewables by 2030. The industry needs certainty, not additional investor uncertainty at such a crucial period in its buildout,” John said.

Electrification of the nation

In late March the Smart Energy Council and Rewiring Australia assembled key Senators and Members of Parliament to witness the launch of a significant campaign aimed at promoting home electrification (and ditching gas appliances) in Australia.

The enormous economic, health and decarbonisation benefits flowing from large-scale home electrification efforts and enabling policy – including a plan on how to get there – were spelt out during a day of meetings with federal leaders.

Media outlets too were briefed on the campaign for wide-ranging domestic electrification.

“Home electrification is essential for decarbonising our economy, but of equal importance is the hip-pocket help the smart energy switch brings for low and middle-income households,” Smart Energy Council’s John Grimes said.

The SEC is calling on government to consider low-interest loans for smart energy products and electrification upgrades for public and social housing.

Minimum efficiency standards and disclosures for rental properties are also on the list.

Successful implementation of the policy suite would generate energy bill savings of up to $3000 – $5000 per household, per year, in 2030.

March 2023

Smart Energy Council Chief Executive John Grimes, President Steve Blume  

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