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Dissenting Report from the Australian Labor Party
Labor has a clear position on climate change.
Labor understands there is a strong foundation of scientific fact
underpinning the imperative to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to reduce
the risk of global warming above 2 degrees.
Labor's approach to reducing emissions is to repeal the carbon tax and
keep in place the already legislated emissions trading scheme which puts a
legal cap on carbon pollution. This lets business work out the cheapest and
most effective way to operate within that cap and is overwhelmingly endorsed by
economists as the most cost effective and efficient emissions reduction method.
The first twelve months of the carbon price has seen emissions from
electricity fall with coal power generation down and renewable energy
generation up. The price on carbon pollution has been effective in increasing
the competitiveness of renewable energy generation. Meanwhile, Australia's
economy grew at trend in 2012-13 while additional government assistance to
households has more than offset any price rises caused by the carbon price.
The binding caps will ensure Australia meets its international emissions
reduction targets under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol
(2013 to 2020) and under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
The flexible-price would bring the Australian carbon price into line
with the carbon price prevailing under the European Union Emission Trading
System, which is currently expected to be around $6 per tonne of emissions.
Moving to flexible-price emissions trading would ensure Australia meets its
international emissions reduction commitments, reduce compliance costs and
transaction costs for businesses, increase flexibility, and improve risk
Australia has not been alone. 99 countries, covering 80 per cent of
global emissions and including all of the major emitters have pledged to reduce
or limit emissions by 2020.
The Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 and related
bills remove the necessary tools for Australia to tackle climate change.
In recommending the repeal of the price on carbon mechanism, the
Coalition majority report is showing a disregard for science, a disregard for
future generations and a disregard for the environment. The Coalition's plan is
a recipe to do nothing, and sets Australia up for unnecessarily higher costs in
years to come.
Direct action without legislated emissions reduction targets, as
proposed by the Coalition Government (but not included in this legislative
package) will leave Australia without a long term emissions reduction method. The
repeal bills leave our nation without a path to help industry, households and
business reduce emissions. As many submitters to the inquiry highlighted the
uncertainty around how the problem of carbon emissions will be managed into the
future is damaging to business and investment decisions.
The repeal bills also do away with worthwhile independent institutions
established by the former Labor Government to tackle climate change including
the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Climate Change Authority.
The Government has also moved to reduce funding to the independent Australian
Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
The CEFC facilitates comprehensive commercial loans for both renewable
and cleaner energy technology investments and is set to fund emissions
reductions at a negative cost (turn a profit) to government. The Government’s
alternative plan for an Emissions Reduction Fund will consume billions from
Consolidated Revenue. ARENA provides funding to improve the competitiveness of
renewable energy technologies, assisting particularly at the difficult-to-fund points
in the product life cycle. The Climate Change Authority provides independent
advice on Australia’s emissions reduction targets, its functions are proposed
to be subsumed by the Environment Department removing the independent advisory
role thereby lowering transparency. These are all vitally important
institutions for tackling climate change and accelerating the roll out of clean
The plan the Coalition Government has put forward to the Parliament
demonstrates that this government isn’t serious about taking meaningful action on
climate change. Last month, we heard John Howard tell a London audience that
those of us who accept that climate change is real are a bunch of
"religious zealots", and that he'll trust his "instinct"
rather than the overwhelming evidence of the world's climate scientists.
Prime Minister Abbott accused the United Nations Climate Chief of
"talking through her hat", while Minister for the Environment, Hon Greg
Hunt MP, used Wikipedia to contradict her opinion in a BBC interview.
Based on the Coalition Government's policies, Australia’s rating has
dropped to 57th out of 61 countries in its efforts to mitigate climate change
as rated by the Climate Change Performance Index.
Embarrassingly, at the recent Warsaw Climate Change Conference Australia
received four of five ‘Fossil of the Day’ "awards", recognising the
Coalition's backward proposal to wind back the carbon price mechanism and
abandon support for research and clean energy.
Meanwhile, the Coalition Government has not been able to come up with
one credible scientist or economist who's willing to stand up and back their Direct
Action plan, which is so scant on detail four years after the announcement.
A recent survey showed that 86 per cent of economists back an
emissions trading scheme as the cheapest and most effective way to tackle
Former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry called the Coalition’s direct action policy
a “bizarre” strategy, which involves the Government
paying big polluters in a scheme that will cost more and will reduce
This month, the OECD released a report confirming that countries could
achieve higher levels of emissions reductions at much lower cost if they relied
on a market-based policy.
The necessity to act only grows each year. Reports show that Australia
is on track for its warmest year ever, while the UN World Meteorological
Organisation reports that the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is at
a record high. The latest Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change report on the physical science of climate change
Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the
1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to
millennia. It is extremely likely (greater than 95 per cent) that human
influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the
The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists highlighted that current
scientific trends forecast climate change to have very negative impacts on the
condition of Australia's natural resources (soil, water, biodiversity and
coastal zone) and the human communities that depend on the ecosystem services
provided, over the 21st century and beyond.
The immediate and long term costs of allowing warming greater than 2
degrees are the core reason for acting now with a policy suite that is designed
to scale up over time. Removing this policy suite for the sake of a slight
reduction in utilities costs in one financial year is reckless and
Despite the shallow rhetoric of the Coalition stating it believes in
climate change and that it supports action - it’s clear that nothing could be
further from the truth. If the Coalition Government does believe in climate
change then it wouldn’t be putting Australian in a position where it falls
behind in playing its part in global action and leaves the Australian economy
exposed to future unnecessary costs because we have failed to take adequate
2. An emissions trading scheme is the most rational policy choice for
In its latest report on climate change policies, the OECD highlighted
that those serious about tackling climate change are implementing a price on
If governments are serious in their fight against climate
change, the core message of this reform must be that the cost of CO2 emissions
will gradually increase, creating a strong economic incentive to reduce the
carbon entanglement and to shift towards a zero carbon trajectory. A central
feature of such an approach is placing a price on carbon.
For Australia to have a carbon pricing mechanism in place and remove it
means we are turning our backs on the world. The rest of the world is in unison
with using a carbon pricing mechanism to reduce carbon pollution except for the
Current Australian Government. China, long held up by the Coalition as not
acting, is implementing seven carbon pricing trials and in one its carbon price
has surged higher than Europe's.
The President of the United States of America has outlined his desire for a
national market-based solution to climate change.
Dr Frank Jotzo highlighted in his submission the clear benefits to the
Australian economy of a carbon price mechanism in tackling climate change.
The carbon pricing mechanism currently in place is an
economically sound basis for climate change mitigation policy in Australia.
Repealing Australia’s Clean Energy Legislation and related bills is undesirable
if a lasting policy framework for greenhouse gas emissions reductions is to be
established, and if emissions reductions are to be achieved cost effectively.
If emissions reductions are to be achieved without carbon pricing, then
regulatory and subsidy approaches will need to play a larger role. These are
generally more costly and less effective in creating incentives for long-term
investment in low-carbon options by Australia’s businesses. Repeal will
exacerbate policy uncertainty, with adverse effects on investment.
Mr Nathan Fabian, Chief Executive Officer of the Investor Group on
Climate Change noted five key elements members of his organisation consider
...a scheme cap that reflects an emissions reduction objective;
broad coverage of sources of emissions in the economy; transitional assistance
arrangements for trade exposed sectors; the ability to access international
permits to achieve least-cost abatement; and the capacity to respond to deeper
reduction targets as necessary over time.
While in its submission, the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists
noted that the Productivity Commission considers "an emissions trading
scheme is by far the most cost effective way for Australia to contribute to
global efforts to mitigate climate change".
Mr Fabian highlighted that the world is acting and the important step is
to set in place appropriate policies to make the necessary emissions reductions
in the long term:
We see accelerating emissions reduction ambition in most
countries around the world. As deep reductions will be needed to achieve a
stable climate outcome, the policy conversation that matters for Australia and
all nations now is: how can deeper reductions targets be achieved, and how
quickly? We are careful to differentiate between ambition to reduce emissions
and the types of instruments used. Our experience tells us that those holding
out for a single global trading scheme are likely to be disappointed. Nations
are implementing emissions reductions policies that make sense for their
circumstances. These include cap and trade schemes in some countries, including
China and Europe; industry regulation in the US; and co-financing vehicles in
South Africa's carbon tax will take effect on 1 January 2015,
and on the same day South Korea's emissions trading scheme will start. It is
our view that an emissions trading scheme with a cap makes sense for
Australia's circumstances. That is because it is in the interest of Australian
companies to be able to contribute to emissions reductions at least cost while
reducing their own emissions from domestic plant and equipment over time, and
in a time frame that makes sense to them.
3. The Coalition is creating investment uncertainty for Australia
The Coalition Government's repeal bills and Direct Action policy are
undermining investment certainty in renewable energy and energy efficiency
measures. If there is bipartisan recognition that climate change is a serious
concern and we must limit Australia's emissions, we need a long term framework
with which to provide some certainty to investors, business, the community and
other nations. The Australian Conservation Foundation eloquently highlights
this concern in its submission:
Long term targets are important. Business and the broader
Australian community must be given clear signals that decarbonisation will
occur, in order to allow for investment decisions to be made in the context of
awareness of the declining availability of permission to pollute.
Direct Action has a 5% from 2000 levels
by 2020 emissions reduction target and a limited four year budget. The 5%
target is not legislated. It is not binding. The Government has insisted that
there will be no further expenditure across the four year budget. However,
everything is unknown until the Government's review processes are finalised
sometime in 2014. The submission from the Responsible Investment Association
Australia noted that the scant level of detail on Direct Action is making it
difficult for the community to assess the merits of the policy.
Together, this is an impediment to long term investment in the
Australian renewable energy sector. Institutional investors such as the
Investor Group on Climate Change suggest that it is easier and more secure to
invest in countries such as Ireland, the UK and USA because of policy certainty
than it is in Australia now. Investors like long term certainty with the lowest
possible risk and reasonable returns.
Mr Fabian provided the committee of the scenario that his members would prefer
to see from climate change policy.
We are affiliated with other institutional investor groups
around the world that collectively represent $20 trillion of investment funds.
Our groups around the world have similar aims—that is, transparent, long-term
and relatively certain policies that can assist us to allocate capital to
low-carbon activities. In the absence of an alternative policy proposal that is
likely to be at least as effective and efficient as the carbon-pricing
framework we do not support repealing Australia's carbon legislation and
recommended the repeal bill not proceed.
....I think the pension community globally realises that, as it
has invested across the global economy, it desperately wants to see a staged
reduction in emissions around economies. We do not want to see radical policy
action at any time to catch up to a gap. That is our biggest concern. The risk
of systemic events affecting financial markets are well documented and clear. I
do not think there is any doubt about that. Were there to be a broad
devaluation of emissions-intensive assets around the world because of radical
policy action, which may happen,—we would prefer that it did not happen—is why
we argue for steady policy change over time. 
While, Mr Wood, Energy Program Director with the Grattan
Institute highlighted the shortcomings of this short term outlook.
Industry, I would suggest, is faced with a continuing period
of significant uncertainty, because until the government has decided what it is
going to do beyond 2020 or beyond five per cent—and my understanding is that
that is going to be decided in the lead-up to 2015—there is significant
uncertainty for industry in how it invests in the long term. Even the current
funding that has been announced under the Emissions Reduction Fund is not in
the long term. So if you are looking to invest in low-emission technology,
particularly if you want to keep up with your competitors overseas—such as
companies who are already working under emissions trading schemes in China,
where they have pilot schemes in place—then you are going to be having some
difficulty in working out what sort of carbon price you build into your
business model. So I think that uncertainty will pertain until the government
decides how it is going to address its actions either beyond five per cent or
beyond 2020. I think that uncertainty is quite a bad situation for business,
and I am sure that is one of the issues business would be raising. 
It is not just big institution investors that have been hit by the
investment uncertainty created by the Coalition Government. In its submission,
Hepburn Wind, noted that at the time its 2000 members invested in 2008-09,
there was bipartisan support for a carbon price mechanism.
Many of our members are ‘mum and dad investors’ and
contributed personally significant funds, including personal superannuation,
based on unambiguous support for carbon pricing from across the political
spectrum. Our earnings before depreciation for the 2012/13
financial year was 4.1c / share. Without the estimated positive uplift
attributed to the carbon price, our equivalent earnings before depreciation
would have been just 1.1 cents / share.
4. Impact of Repeal on energy prices
The Coalition's main purpose for this policy package is to reduce
utility bills and overall costs on households and business. In his second
reading speech on the repeal bills, the Prime Minister was unambiguous in the
reductions Australians can expect, using an average figure on overall costs but
exact specifics for electricity and gas costs.
The first impact of this bill will be on households, whose
overall costs will fall $550 a year on average. Thanks to this bill, household
electricity bills will be $200 lower next financial year without the carbon
tax. Household gas bills will be $70 lower next financial year without the carbon
There appears to be evidence to suggest the Coalition Government has
overestimated the impact of removing the carbon price on household expenses.
In evidence before the committee the Mr Wood said,
...It means therefore that when you remove the carbon price at
just over $24 a tonne of CO2 equivalent, the savings that will be generated
whenever that occurs will be less than if they would have been than when the
cost was first imposed. Secondly, the correct comparison of the removal of the
carbon price would be against what would have happened otherwise; namely, if
there had been a continuity of this legislation in place then the carbon price
almost certainly would have gone down significantly once it moved to a market
In its submission, ACOSS highlighted the increased network expenditure
as a factor that would impact any reductions in electricity bills:
Based on currently available evidence, it remains unclear
whether repealing the carbon tax will lead to a significant decrease in household
living costs. ACOSS has been advocating for low income energy consumers in
energy market reform processes for the past seven years. The drivers of energy
price rises are much broader and more complex than the introduction of the
carbon price alone including, for example, increased network expenditure.
While industry group COzero noted that some businesses would not see any
impact from repeal because of the length of hedging contracts entered into.
Electricity contracts, in particular, hedged contracts, have
been entered into by Liable Entities and Counterparties until the end of the
2015 financial year. These contracts have an implied carbon price in them.
Regardless of whether the Carbon Tax is removed, or not, these contracts will
have to be honored with a carbon component that will have to be either absorbed
by Liable Entities, or passed on.
In designing the Clean Energy Future Package, Labor was acutely aware of
the impacts on industry, particularly emissions intensive, trade exposed
industry and the need to smooth this over time. As such, the Jobs and
Competitiveness Program was designed to provide the most emissions-intensive
trade-exposed businesses with assistance to cover 94.5 per cent of industry
average carbon costs in the first year of the carbon price and less
emissions-intensive trade-exposed businesses with assistance to cover 66
per cent of industry average carbon costs. To encourage industry to cut
pollution, assistance was forecast to be reduced by 1.3 per cent each year and
reviewed regularly to ensure effectiveness.
In its submission, the Australian Industry Group praised the Jobs and
Competitiveness Program as "of great importance", no doubt as it saw
the most emissions-intensive trade-exposed businesses with an effective carbon price
of $1.27 per tonne and less emissions emissions-intensive trade-exposed
businesses with an effective carbon price of $7.82 per tonne.
Relative to increases in distribution costs, repealing the carbon price will
have a small impact on the power bills of Australia's most emissions-intensive
trade-exposed businesses, which in 2013-14 rose to effective price of
approximately $1.70 per tonne.
The Clean Energy Future Package also contained significant co-investment
funding to encourage business to become more energy efficient and/or reduce
carbon emissions. Since July 2011, the Clean Technology Program has seen over
$246 million of government investment leverage over $500 million of private
sector investment. Many of these projects were financed by industry on the
basis of increasing costs over time from the carbon price mechanism. Removal of
the carbon price reduces the savings per annum from energy efficiency measures,
pushing out payback periods from investment.
Given the Prime Minister's penchant for absolute honesty in this space,
Labor Senators await the outcome of research into changes in costs if the
repeal bills pass.
5. Direct Action sets Australia up to fail on its commitment to addressing
Labor is concerned that the Coalition Government has no intention of
ensuring Australia meets our internationally committed target of a 5 per cent
reduction on 2000 levels by 2020, let alone our maximum of 25 per cent.
Australia's climate policies must be capable of achieving Australia's
maximum internationally committed targets of up to 25 per cent reductions by
2020. Notably a failure to demonstrate a credible plan weakens our ability to
play a constructive role in the new agreement that will cover all major
emitters from 2020. 
Australia’s existing policies give certainty in this regard.
...Australia's carbon price and limit on emissions can achieve
our 25 per cent target and stronger reductions through post-2020 decades. The
key features of the existing carbon pricing legislation ensure that Australia
can meet its targets and stronger post-2020 targets if it chooses to do so. 
Australia’s existing carbon reduction policy suite has a greater
capacity to meet our current and future targets because it features a legally
binding cap on emissions.
These features are the ability to set legally binding annual
caps on carbon emissions and for liable entities to access international carbon
permits to comply with these caps. These features provide confidence that
Australia's carbon policy framework is sufficiently robust to manage the risks
and uncertainty of future emissions drivers and deliver emission reductions at
reasonable cost. These features also allow significant flexibility. The
government can choose to adjust Australians emissions trajectory through the
caps or companies can choose within certain limits how best to fulfil their
obligations, whether by reducing emissions or by purchasing domestic and
international permits or a combination thereof. 
Meanwhile, direct action has no commitment to targets beyond 2020 and
there is uncertainty within the policy about how it can even achieve these 2020
The government is currently yet to demonstrate that its
alternative policy can achieve Australia's minimum commitments, and all independent
analysis to date indicates that emissions will continue to increase under its
currently proposed framework. 
The Coalition Government’s lack of long term funding commitments for
Direct Action further confirms Labor’s view that the Coalition Government has
no long term commitment to meaningful action to address climate change. The
Grattan Institute in evidence before the Committee highlighted how Direct
Action can have no longevity as a policy without further significant budget
My understanding from every conversation I have had with the
senior representatives of the government is that direct action has been
targeted directly to achieve the five per cent target by 2020; that is
shorthand, obviously. Many have criticised whether it might even do that. But,
just focusing on your question, there is fundamentally no reason why the
Emissions Reduction Fund, which is the centrepiece of direct action, could not
be expanded. But because it is funded on budget, which is by the very nature of
the instrument different from an emissions trading scheme or a renewable energy
target, it would require additional budget appropriations in future times to be
able to achieve that outcome. 
The source of funding for the Direct Action policy was raised as a
concern by the Australian Council of Social Services. Its submission
highlighted that there is no benefit for low income Australians from one year
of reduced power prices if the Direct Action policy is funded by reducing
programs on which these people rely.  Of course, programs that low income Australians rely upon are
right in the Coalition's sights with moves already to scrap the School Kids
Bonus and Low Income Superannuation Co-contribution.
A 2010 Auditor-General's report into the Administration of Climate
Change Programs raises serious concerns about the effectiveness of a Direct
The Emissions Reduction Fund is a grant/tender scheme similar
in structure to several previously implemented in Australia. The 2010
‘Administration of Climate Change Programs’ report of the Auditor-General
evaluates the success of a range of programs aimed at reducing Australian
greenhouse gas pollution.6 The assessed greenhouse gas pollution reduction
policy that most closely resembles the ERF was the Greenhouse Gas Abatement
Program (GGAP). The Auditor-General’s finding is that the actual abatement
achieved by the GGAP program was substantially less than originally planned,
with only 30 per cent of planned emissions abatement being achieved. This underperformance
was partly due to delays in finalising funding agreements, but also because of
the termination of 40 per cent of funded projects – largely due to
organisations bidding in with unsustainably low quotes for pollution reduction,
before abandoning projects when costs were higher than anticipated.
While the OECD considers that capital subsidies, as per the Direct
Action policy, were among the most expensive ways of reducing emissions.
The CEO of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Mr Oliver Yates, in
evidence to the Committee highlighted concerns with financing emissions
reduction programs with grants rather than loans.
Our experience is that providing people with debt creates
discipline and ensures that the person who is borrowing from the state uses
that money carefully. Our own view is that, if you are given money for taking
an action, you are less likely to be as cautious as you would be if you were
borrowing the money to achieve that outcome.
This evidence highlights the major concern that the Coalition is not
serious about reducing Australia's carbon emissions. The Direct Action policy
has no guarantees of funding and no guarantees of reducing emissions.
If it passes into law, the Clean Energy Act Repeal Bill will
remove Australia’s legislated cap on pollution. Government has indicated the
replacement Emissions Reduction Fund scheme will have no legislated cap on
pollution, nor any mechanism to ensure that Australia’s pollution reduction
targets are satisfied. Government has also committed to capping spending on the
With no guaranteed funding and no guaranteed emissions reductions,
ClimateWorks Australia's submission notes that the current repeal bills leave
Australia vulnerable to a shock in future years.
Any replacement legislation needs to both retain a 2050
target and provide a mechanism for enabling an achievable pathway to the 2050
target and adjusting the 2020 target to one that will not impose higher and
unnecessary costs in the future.
ClimateWorks Australia further argues that the current architecture of
the Clean Energy Future legislation should be retained in order to avoid
unnecessary cost and delay in establishing new architecture.
The Senate inquiry also made clear that the Coalition Government has no
clear policy rationale or evidence base to support its Direct Action Policy.
The policy is being developed in the absence of economic modelling. This was
made clear by both officials from the Treasury and Environment Departments during
hearings for this inquiry.
Senator Pratt: In terms of the bills that are in front
of us today, part of that bill is to repeal the Clean Energy Finance
Corporation, and, in the future, we are supposed to look to an Emissions
Reduction Fund and we are supposed to take it at face value that that fund is
coming in the future. We have not had modelling done that enables us to compare
the existing policy with the future policy. You are telling us that you have
not been asked to do that modelling.
Mr Campbell (Treasury): We have not. That is not to
say that work has not been undertaken or is proposed to be undertaken within
the taskforce, but there is nothing today I can comment on.
Senator Pratt: What is the policy rationale from
Treasury regarding the abolishment of the CEFC and the carbon pricing bills
Mr Haigh (Treasury): The Treasury's role with regard
to the CEFC is to implement the government's policy to wind up the CEFC. We
have responsibility for doing that, subject to the bill passing parliament. The
government's position on the CEFC or the reason for its abolition is, as I
understand it, the CEFC either crowds out possible private sector investment or
takes risks that are not appropriate with taxpayers' money. 
Senator Pratt: What is the evidence base to uphold
that statement? I appreciate that is the government's position. Is there an
evidence base from Treasury's point of view to substantiate that?
Mr Haigh (Treasury): We have not looked into an
evidence base to support or review that suggestion. 
Ms Broadbent (CEFC): I think we have got evidence that
there has certainly been crowding in rather than crowding out, because new
financial institutions have come to participate in the market, being encouraged
by a government owned entity's participation. 
Senator Pratt: What work is being done from a policy
point of view to compare efficient outcomes between different policy platforms?
Dr de Brouwer (Environment): The government has
undertaken, through a release of terms of reference and a green paper process,
to go through what the Emissions Reduction Fund would look like and also within
that the various elements of Direct Action, which include other things like the
million solar roofs, 20 million trees and those other policies. The other step
that is involved in this is being clear about what the abatement challenge is.
So the government has been very clear about its commitment to reduce
Australia's domestic emissions by five per cent by 2020. It is really then
understanding what the abatement challenge is, given where that goes, and
setting out a very clear public process to go through a terms of reference,
green paper and white paper process to draw that out in public. 
Senator Pratt: About halfway through your statement,
you talked about the submissions process around the Emissions Reduction Fund.
Will any of that work compare the efficiency of an emissions reduction fund
with an emissions trading scheme?
Dr de Brouwer: It is very hard, when the green paper
has not been released, to talk about what is going to be in the green paper. 
Senator Pratt: But it has not been covered in the
terms of reference, though, has it?
Dr de Brouwer: I do not think that is explicitly in
the terms of reference. I could go through the terms of reference if you wish. 
Senator Pratt: Is there any work going on within
government—I know it has been done in the past—to compare the cost of abatement
under direct action with that provided for under the existing legislation that
we are operating under?
Dr de Brouwer: The government has been very clear
about its policy stance and policy priorities in this area. The abatement that
is associated with the Emissions Reduction Fund will come out as that fund
operates. It really depends, in the reverse auction process, what the bids are
for abatement and the cost of that abatement. That is revealed through the
auction process; it is not revealed in advance. The government has been clear
that it wants to have an auction process that goes across all parts of the
economy—that is in the terms of reference—and purchase the lowest cost
abatement from that exercise. Those answers are revealed in the exercise of the
auction in that market process. 
Senator Pratt: Can you point the parliament to any
information or evidence base that would enable us—in terms of being the ones
who are asked to answer this question of whether or not to repeal—to make those
Dr de Brouwer: We are going through a design process
now and it is a properly designed process. So that will be the source of the
Senator Pratt: So, in other words, yes, the parliament
is being asked to repeal these bills before that information is available to
Dr de Brouwer: I think you are asking me to give
personal views about things, Senator, and I do not think that is appropriate. 
Labor Senators note that Treasury has previously done extensive work
examining emissions trading schemes but has done no work under this Government
looking at Direct Action. Previous work done by Treasury supported emissions
trading as the most efficient policy framework for Australia, over and above
that of direct action policies.
6. The Coalition's policy removes access to international abatement
The repeal bills remove the opportunity for international abatement to
be utilised as a part of Australia's carbon reduction policy suite. A number of
witnesses provided evidence that the use of domestic only abatement will
increase the cost of reducing emissions and make it more difficult to reach our
...any proposed policy framework in Australia, the one that is
going to be the least costly and gives the greatest level of confidence that we
have to achieve our targets is going to include international abatement. 
...the difference between the $38 and $60 I mentioned is if you
do not allow international permits. You get the lower price if you do allow
There is no real scenario, unless you have effective carbon
prices in the order of $65 to $75 a tonne by 2020, that you could achieve our
targets all domestically. That is obviously a much higher cost than is
currently accessible on the international market and we should be examining
those opportunities too, at least as an insurance policy. The type of policy
framework that the coalition or the government is proposing does not get us
there; as it currently stands it is unlikely. 
Because the cost of reducing emissions may be lower
internationally, this is a significantly cheaper way to reduce emissions than
if all the effort occurred domestically.
Labor Senators are concerned that the Coalition is unnecessarily raising
concerns about the efficacy of international abatement as a means of dismissing
international action on climate change. Mr Jackson from the Climate Institute
highlighted in evidence to the Committee that the Kyoto Protocol's clean
development mechanism is supporting renewable energy investment and the
international rules and markets have become more stringent, not less.
Labor Senators believe Australia should participate in the international
carbon market because one tonne of emissions has the same impact on climate
change regardless of its country of origin and as such we need to support all
countries in their efforts to move to lower their emissions. Further,
international abatement unlocks an opportunity for Australia to reduce
emissions at almost half the cost of doing so purely using domestic abatement.
7. Support for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Australian
Renewable Energy Agency
Australia has not only priced carbon to reduce carbon pollution; we have
been pro-active in setting up a policy suite including the Clean Energy Finance
Corporation (CEFC), and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). The CEFC
facilitates comprehensive commercial loans and is set to fund emissions
reductions at a negative cost (turn a profit) to government; its functions are
to be replaced with the Emissions Reduction Fund that will consume billions
from Consolidated Revenue. ARENA provides funding to improve the
competitiveness of renewable energy technologies, assisting particularly at the
difficult-to-fund points in the product life cycle.
In its first months of operation, the CEFC has been successful in
providing loans to organisations. Over time, the CEFC has the capacity to make
investments that would account for 50 per cent of the 5 per cent emissions
reduction target by 2020 at a profit to the taxpayer of $2.40 per tonne.
By working with private sector co-financiers, the CEFC
multiplies the total amount of funding available for investment. Through
investing $536 million of CEFC funds and $1.55 billion in private sector
co-financing, the CEFC has facilitated over $2.2 billion in projects, delivered
approximately 4 million tonnes of abatement, and achieved it at negative cost
(i.e. net return or benefit) of $2.40 per tonne of abatement.
Despite its successful operations, the repeal bills seek to abolish the
Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Coalition Senators have been unable to see
past their free market blinkers and appreciate the role the CEFC plays in
facilitating investment in renewable energy that would otherwise be missed by
normal commercial banks.
Many stakeholders gave evidence regarding the important work of the
Clean Energy Finance Corporation and argue strongly that it should be retained.
Mr Nathan Fabian, Chief Executive Officer, of the Investor Group on
Climate Change summarised the need for the CEFC in evidence:
The CEFC is one example of what are now 14 co-financing
institutions around the world. These organisations are needed for five reasons.
Firstly, governments cannot sufficiently finance low-carbon alternatives to
meet a two-degree outcome and private capital is needed. Secondly, the
low-carbon investment market is relatively young and so deal flow needs to be
supported. Thirdly, capacity in the finance sector must be increased through
the experience of financing investments. Fourthly, financial participants
welcome investment opportunities presented in a new market by an objective
third party, even more than by investment banks. Lastly, co-financing
organisations can actually earn financial returns for governments, delivering
abatement at negative costs—and we think this is appealing and makes sense to
all parties. Given the government's infrastructure agenda, we think that
dismissing co-financing as a useful policy instrument may be premature.
Mr Fabian went on to highlight that the role played by the CEFC is only
possible because it also brings funds to the table.
Investors do not turn up for chat; they turn up when there is
a deal to be done. If we know that the counterparty can make the investment
more attractive, then we are interested. We are not just going to come along
for a bit of a chat about what might occur or what investment might take place.
In its submission, the renewable energy company Epuron noted the
importance of the CEFC in facilitating finance for its renewable energy
Our own experience in securing funding for projects
underlines the key role of the CEFC. Epuron has secured ground-breaking
commercial lending facilities with a major Australian bank for the solar power
stations we operate in the Northern Territory. To achieve this both parties
have been on a long journey because, despite the high quality nature of the
projects and established track record of solar PV globally, such projects
constitute a new asset class for the Australian banking community and the
transaction sizes can be relatively small. Globally the market for financing
of renewable energy markets, including solar and wind, is mature whereas the
debt terms we have been able to achieve for our Australian projects are
The role of the CEFC is pivotal in enabling renewable energy
projects, particularly solar PV, to reach financial close so that more are
built and the market in Australia matures at a faster rate. In our own
experience, the CEFC has not been providing concessional loan finance that
undercuts the market but rather debt that fairly reflects project quality on
market terms from a global perspective and in a way that does not crowd out the
local banking community. In this way it appears that the CEFC has consistently
exceeded its statutory benchmark lending rate.
The Responsible Investment Association of Australia's submission
highlighted that the CEFC is not a novel idea, with many other countries
deploying similar financing models.
The CEFC co-investment model is a prudent and cost effective
way to allocate limited public funds to leverage private investment to do the
heavy lifting in the investment into a low carbon transition. A testament to
this model is that global trend by many countries to put in place such public
finance institutions to help catalyse investment flows into low carbon assets,
including the UK Green Investment Bank, Germany’s KfW, China’s Development
Bank, the US Department of Environment’s Loan Program Office, the New York
Green Bank, California Clean Energy Fund, European Investment Bank and many of
the multilateral development banks such as the Asian Development Bank.
While, Dr Frank Jotzo noted that the Clean Energy Finance
Corporation would complement the Coalition's Direct Action Policy and support
Australia's climate change policy irrespective of whether there is a carbon
The Australian Conservation Foundation noted that the strategic
government support corrects the market failure known as the "Valley of
Death" - the research phase after proof of concept but before commercial
production - when companies often need continued funding to survive.
8. Support for an independent Climate Change Authority
climate change has been one of the most overtly political issues of the past
decade, it is vital that the scientific targets and policy that underpins our
response is conducted by an agency independent of Government. Subsuming the
functions of the Climate Change Authority into the Department of Environment is
likely to lead to less transparency in this highly political area of public
policy. We believe that the risks are too great to abolish this independent
Mr Erwin Jackson, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, The Climate
the political record of climate change policy and highlighted the need for
climate policies based on evidence not the political agenda.
... the Climate Change Authority plays an essential role in
informing that climate policy should be retained. Australia has a track record
of highly politicised approaches to climate policy. This has produced policies
that are often inefficient and continually readjusted, which in turn has
resulted in significant business uncertainty, higher costs associated with
investments and inadequate emission reductions. To achieve a sustained emission
reduction consistent with our national interest, Australia needs climate
policies that are based on a sound foundation of evidence rather than political
his submission, Dr Frank Jotzo highlighted that the Climate Change
still function under the Coalition's Direct Action policy.
The submission from the Investor Group on Climate Change noted that the
investment community values the analysis from the Climate Change Authority.
Regardless of the policy tools that Australian governments
choose to implement, the CCA’s analysis assists investors to interpret the
likely future emissions reductions trajectory for Australia and the scale of
policy response that will be required.
Investor Regnan noted the risks to Australian business from the
abolition of the Climate Change Authority.
Abolition of the CCA increases the risk that Australian
regulatory settings will move increasingly out-of-step with emissions reduction
developments emerging at the international level in response to new science and
global carbon budget commitments. The implications for Australian businesses
would be to increasingly fall behind in carbon-competitiveness, risking large
and disruptive value impacts in the future. We see implications particularly for
carbon intensive companies with long-lived assets in the absence of regulatory
settings which provide sufficient signalling to influence capital investment
programs and technology choices.
Finally, the submission from the Australian Conservation Foundation
noted that the repeal bills do not reallocate the responsibility for
consideration of renewable energy targets from the abolished Climate Change
Labor Senators consider this oversight to be consistent with the short sighted
approach to climate change policy taken by the Coalition Government.
Labor Senators consider that it is irresponsible to pass these Bills
in the absence of a credible alternative emissions reduction policy.
Senator Anne Urquhart Senator
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