Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Australia to pull plug on light bulbs -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Australia to pull plug on light bulbs

Reporter: Matt Peacock

KERRY O'BRIEN: After all the current talk about the impact of global warming, today we saw the
first tangible evidence of the kind of impact to be felt in Australian households. Under a
Government plan unveiled today, power hungry light bulbs will be phased out in favour of more
energy-efficient globes within the next three years. As well as saving money, the new globes will
reduce the nation's annual greenhouse gas emissions but, according to a study prepared by power
generators, consumers could soon face even bigger changes if the introduction of an emission
trading system puts a price on power station pollution. Matt Peacock reports.

MATT PEACOCK: For more than a century, Australia's thrived on some of the world's cheapest power,
generated by huge deposits of the world's cheapest coal. But those days are now numbered in the
race for bright ideas to stop global warming.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: You've all got light bulbs like this in your house,

MATT PEACOCK: Today Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a ban on the old power
hungry incandescent light bulbs within three years.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: By 2015, when the incandescent light bulb will only be found in a museum, it will
mean Australia is emitting four million tons less of carbon dioxide than it otherwise would be.

PETER GARRETT, OPPOSITION ENVIRONMENT SPOKESMAN: It will make a difference, and we need a whole lot
more things like this, because it won't make a substantial difference. It's an idea that's been
around for some time, but it's good to see it there.

PAUL GILDING, EASY BEING GREEN: I think first of all we should celebrate the fact that we've now
got politicians competing to see who can cut the most CO2 the fastest. That's a very good thing for
the environment, a good thing for the economy, actually, as well.

MATT PEACOCK: Former Greenpeace head turned consultant, Easy Being Green's Paul Gilding, has hailed
the move.

PAUL GILDING: Around 20 per cent of emissions in Australia come from the home. So, for example, if
we all changed our light bulbs, we could shut down a 1,000 megawatt coal fired power station. So
we're talking across the country a lot of power, so it really does make a significant difference.

MATT PEACOCK: Planet Ark's Jon Dee has been pushing the light bulb idea for years.

JON DEE, PLANET ARK: For every single one of those that we get rid of and we replace with an energy
saver like this, each household is going to save about $30 a bulb.

MATT PEACOCK: But according to Australia's power generators, consumers will soon have to embrace
even bigger changes to their household.

JOHN BOSHIER, NATIONAL GENERATORS FORUM: Over the next 20 years we can expect to see electricity
prices nearly double if we have emissions trading. So people will want to put in new efficient
light bulbs and they will want to put in things like, for example, insulation in their roofs,
because it will suit them to do so.

MATT PEACOCK: The coal fired power stations that generate most of the country's electricity are
also the biggest single source of greenhouse gas. Their operators are now confronting a bigger
issue than light bulbs, what they see as an inevitable cost being placed on their greenhouse gas
emissions.

JOHN BOSHIER: Emissions trading is going to be the only way to go.

MATT PEACOCK: Emissions trading, that is, buying and selling the right to pollute the atmosphere
with greenhouse gas, is already a reality but only for the countries who have already signed up to
the Kyoto treaty. Recently, though, the Howard Government began investigating a scheme for
Australia.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: We certainly need to put a price on carbon. The emissions trading concept allows
much greater flexibility and it allows the market to work. I've got no doubt Australia will be part
of an emissions trading scheme, a global scheme, in the future. We're looking at how we make that
transition, how we prepare for a global scheme, through the Prime Minister's emissions trading task
group.

PETER GARRETT: Clearly we can't have a sensible discussion about how we meet our future energy
needs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions unless we've got a national emissions trading scheme
factored into that discussion.

MATT PEACOCK: Today the generators' forum released a detailed study of the most likely scenarios
into Australia's power future, depending on just what price a tonne of carbon pollution might cost
them.

JOHN BOSHIER: We can see in this graph that all existing coal fired power stations are closed down
by 2050. It's an extraordinary situation.

MATT PEACOCK: So what does the generators' research say? Anything up to $20 a tonne for carbon,
there will be no incentive to change. Coal will remain king and greenhouse emissions continue to
soar. Above $20 a tonne, say the generators, nuclear may become viable but it will take at least 12
years to build a reactor and there's strong political opposition. Over $30 a tonne, then so called
clean coal, that's capturing and burying coal's carbon dioxide, might kick in, but it's yet to be
proven as even viable. And at $40 a tonne, most renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hot
rocks, say the generators, become viable alternatives.

JOHN BOSHIER: Well, at $40 a tonne we're assuming that a half of all emissions would be captured
and buried underground. Now, that is a very big undertaking. A quarter of all energy would come
from renewable sources, wind, solar, and the remainder would be natural gas. So natural gas would
play a very important role in the long term future if there are no major new technology
breakthroughs.

MATT PEACOCK: But Paul Gilding warns against picking any winners.

PAUL GILDING: I don't think we know yet whether clean coal is real or not. We don't know whether
clean nuclear is real or not. What we do know is, if we put a price on carbon, the market will
fight that out and determine the right answer.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: We've got a task group looking at this issue and they will take into account this
National Generators' Forum report, which is a very valuable one, a very good contribution. That
will be fed into the mix and then the Government will get the benefit of the task group in May.

PETER GARRETT: We have every opportunity, if we apply our energy, our science, and our investment
monies, in producing a coal industry where clean coal technology plays its important part and its
important role, just as we should invest in a range of those energy sources, including geothermal,
solar thermal and solar and wind.

MATT PEACOCK: And what does all this mean for the average electricity bill?

JOHN BOSHIER: The real crucial policy point in Australia is whether there should be deep cuts in
emissions or not. If there are deep cuts in emissions, and by that, I mean, a half of present
emissions, then in a retail sense you can expect electricity prices to rise by 40 per cent in about
10 years' time.

PAUL GILDING: We waste electricity, we waste fuel, we waste petrol in the country like you wouldn't
believe. So if we pay more per unit, but we pay less overall because we're using more efficiently,
we may well be better off overall.

MATT PEACOCK: Whatever the Federal Government does it needs to do it soon, say the generators,
within the next year.

JOHN BOSHIER: The public, I think, is putting more and more pressure on the generators to be seen
to be doing something about climate change. We're trying to respond to that pressure and as a
result we are looking for an agreement between the States and the Commonwealth as to what kind of
emissions trading scheme there is going to be and when it will be introduced.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Matt Peacock with that report.