November 26, 2007 (Sydney Morning Herald) – Energy and environment business heads are looking forward to the expansion of clean energy markets under the new federal Labor government. After Labor swept to victory in Saturday’s election, prime minister-elect Kevin Rudd began holding meetings with officials about the mechanics of signing the Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
He has promised to sign Kyoto so Australia can be full negotiating partner at the next round of emissions talks at the Climate Change Conference in Bali in two weeks.
Financial and Energy Exchange (FEX) chief executive and founder Brian Price, says Labor is on the path to making Australia the centre of a clean energy technology and sustainability industry.
“I had diner with Kevin Rudd a few months ago and he made a particular emphasis on positioning Australia, particularly Sydney, as an Asian financial centre,” Mr Price said.
“If action matches rhetoric, its good for us,” Mr Price said in an interview with AAP from the United States.
However, business still needs a “real reason to focus on the clean tech sector”, Mr Price said.
“If we are really trying to make Australia clean tech investment focus, you have got to do to other things … like have tax cuts or concessions so industry will come into a certain geographic place,” he said.
During the election campaign, Labor made several climate change and clean energy pledges in an open reply to a letter from industry think tank Environment Business Australia (EBA).
The commitments included pledges to bring forward the start of a national emissions trading scheme to no later than 2010, to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2060 and to generate 20 per cent of Australia’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.
It also pledged to put $500 million toward a Renewable Energy Fund and another $500 million toward a National Clean Coal Fund.
EBA chief executive Fiona Wain said Labor was making a “good first step” and gave Mr Rudd a “seven out of 10” for his overall approach to tackling climate change issues.
“What we have now with Rudd is a man who thoroughly understands the broader aspects of economic prosperity,” she said.
“I think we can expect to see that his promises on making the economy smarter and more efficient, the increase of renewable energy into the mix and cleaner fuels and energy, coming to the fore.”
But Ms Wain said more action was need to encourage energy efficiency.
“Australia needs to demonstrate how an energy intensive economy like Australia can retain its prosperity by being smarter and more efficient,” she said.
Oil and gas retailer Origin Energy Ltd, which is pursuing several renewable energy projects including geothermal energy, is looking forward to seeing the legislation to support Labor’s promises.
“Getting certainty surrounding carbon pricing is going to be critically important and that means moving forward quickly with the details for the emissions trading scheme,” Origin
general manager of corporate communications Tony Wood said.
Mr Woods said Labor’s 2010 timeframe for an emissions trading scheme was reasonable.
“But next year we need to know the parameters that will define the scheme … once you know the rules, you can start to make investment decisions,” he said.
Mr Wood added that ratifying Kyoto was key for companies such as Origin, so they can participate in projects offshore under Kyoto’s clean development mechanisms.