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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6408

Mr COMBET (Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change) (10:36 AM) —I welcome the opportunity to present the climate change portfolio appropriations to the Main Committee. Climate change, of course, poses a major threat to our environment, our society and our economy. It is more important than ever to secure Australia’s long-term prosperity by building a low-pollution economy that protects the environment while enabling our society to prosper and build our economy into the future. The Australian government is implementing an integrated and comprehensive response to climate change to help preserve our environment for generations to come. Action now will secure Australia’s long-term prosperity by driving investment in new technologies and creating low-pollution job opportunities for Australians. There are two key institutional elements to our approach, one being the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and the other being legislation that, on behalf of the government, I introduced to the House this morning in the form of the renewable energy target scheme.

Overall, the government’s response to climate change is built on three pillars: firstly, reducing Australia’s carbon pollution; secondly, adapting our economy and society to unavoidable climate change; and, thirdly, helping to shape a global solution to this issue. The government has set an ambitious emissions reduction target of 25 per cent of 2000-level emissions to be achieved by 2020—if there is an ambitious global agreement to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at 450 parts per million carbon dioxide equivalent. This target will be achieved through a comprehensive and integrated suite of climate change policies and programs that guarantee that emissions do come down and that provide incentives for action as we meet our 2020 targets, which will transform the economy over time. This involves a legislated cap on carbon pollution through the CPRS, which will place an explicit price on carbon and help create the green jobs of the future. Of course, that price under the CPRS, after the first year of operation of the scheme, will be set by the market. It also involves measures to improve energy efficiency in our homes, shops, offices and workplaces; measures to deploy existing clean energy and low-emissions technologies; support for the creation of new clean energy and low-emissions technologies and products; opportunities for households to engage in individual action; and measures to help business and community groups prepare for a low-carbon future.

The Department of Climate Change is the core agency responsible for the development and coordination of the climate change policy. In 2009-10 the Department of Climate Change will receive funding to implement the CPRS and to establish the Australian Climate Change Regulatory Authority. ACCRA will bring together the administration of the CPRS, the renewable energy target scheme and the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System under a single independent regulator, streamlining the administration of the related legislation and reducing regulatory burdens. We are also establishing the $2.75 billion Climate Change Action Fund to provide assistance to business, industry and community organisations and, under this fund, $200 million will be provided in 2009-10 to support businesses and community organisations to prepare for a low-carbon future and to start to take early action to reduce carbon pollution.

We recognise, of course, the important role that household action has to play in moving to a low-emissions future for Australia. As well as the government’s significant investment of $4 billion in measures to reduce energy use in our homes, we are establishing the Australian Carbon Trust. As part of that trust, $25.8 million is dedicated to establishing the Energy Efficiency Savings Pledge Fund to support the uptake of energy efficiency measures by households and small businesses and to enable individuals to achieve emissions reductions beyond the emissions reduction target. The Australian Carbon Trust will also be provided with $50 million in seed funding to promote and demonstrate innovative energy efficiency activities for businesses and other organisations.

Quality scientific research is also essential to underpin each pillar of the change, and we are continuing to build scientific understanding of climate change through the provision of $31.2 million of funding over four years for the Australian Climate Change Science program. Domestic climate change efforts depend for their effectiveness also on strong global action to reduce emissions, and through the $12 million program, Shaping an International Solution to Climate Change, we will strengthen our efforts and shape our influence on the international climate change agenda. The measures contained in the budget bring our investment in addressing climate change to over $15 billion. (Time expired)