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A resilient and sustainable Australia in the Asian Century

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28 October 2012

A Resilient and Sustainable Australia in the Asian Century

Australia’s actions at home and our engagement with Asia is ensuring effective action on climate change, sustainable management of our environmental assets and stronger food supply systems and energy markets.

In the Asian century, this engagement will become increasingly important to Australia’s economic prosperity.

Ministers Greg Combet, Tony Burke and Martin Ferguson today welcomed the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper.

The White Paper sets out a national objective to ensure that out to 2025, the Australian economy and our environmental assets will be managed sustainably to ensure the wellbeing of future generations of Australians.

The White Paper also highlights the important work already being undertaken by Government to tackle the challenges identified.

Australia is acting on climate change.

We are committed to a clean energy future supported by stable, sustainable and secure markets and to reducing our emissions by at least five per cent compared with 2000 levels by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050.

The Government’s Clean Energy Future plan ensures we will meet these targets in the most cost-effective and flexible way. The plan encourages investment in clean energy, supports jobs and competitiveness, enables our efforts to be linked with those overseas, and supports economic growth while reducing pollution.

The Government has secured agreement to link Australia's domestic carbon market with the European Union Emissions Trading System.

We are also working closely with our Asian neighbours—including China, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea—to build well-functioning and comprehensive carbon markets through active engagement in the Asia-Pacific Carbon Markets Roundtable.

Australia invests billions of dollars in cleaner energy sources, including renewable energy. We are transforming the energy sector to move away from high polluting generation and investing $1.2 billion through the Clean Technology Program to help manufacturers develop and adopt clean technologies and improve energy efficiency.

Australia is also storing carbon in the land through better land management strategies supported by the Carbon Farming Initiative.

The $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the $3.2 billion Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will work side-by-side to support renewable energy technology by providing financial assistance from development to deployment.

In addition, the Renewable Energy Target will ensure 20 per cent of Australia's electricity is generated by renewable energy sources by 2020.

The Government has supported solar innovation through the $150 million Australian Solar Institute (ASI) since 2009, and now through ARENA.

ASI has invested close to $90 million in solar research and development projects, in addition to providing support for over 30 early career solar researchers.

The Government continues to support the improvement of energy efficiency by Australian industry.

The International Energy Agency has highlighted Australia’s Energy Efficiency Opportunities program as a leading-edge example for improving energy efficiency outcomes and addressing information failures.

Companies participating in the program have reported implementing savings worth over $800 million a year, equivalent to a reduction of 1.5 per cent of Australia’s total energy use.

The resilience of Australia’s environment will be a key contributor to the nation’s prosperity in the Asian century. That is why we will review the operation of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030 after its first five years.

Work to develop a system of National Environmental Accounts to put an economic value on biodiversity and ecosystem services will also help to ensure the impacts of biodiversity loss and the short and long-term trade-offs of resource usage are considered by decision makers.

Protecting biodiversity is an ongoing priority, in rivers and oceans as well as on land.

The Government has released a proposed final network of marine reserves which—if proclaimed under national environment law—will see the national network cover more than a third of Commonwealth waters.

It is also finalising the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to ensure we have healthy rivers, strong communities and sustainable food production.

Continuing to ensure that our natural assets are sustainable, resilient and well-managed, and globally recognised as such, will put Australia in the strongest position to meet the challenges and the opportunities of the coming Asian century.

Media contact: Mark Davis (Minister Combet) 02 6277 7920 Kate Scott-Murphy (Minister Burke) 0408 433 581 Elyse Gatt (Minister Ferguson) 0407 198 136