Paper to Seminar “The Green Shift: Ensuring Sustainability through innovation and multi-stakeholder co-operation”
Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Good morning and thank you for your kind introduction Ambassador.
Australia and Norway share a warm and enduring friendship, one built on shared values and a desire to create a sustainable future for all.
I would particularly like to mention our close collaboration with Norway on protecting the priceless environment of Antarctica. With the 34th annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources (CCAMLR) due to begin in Hobart next week, Australia and Norway are proposing a way to improve accounting for the impacts of climate change in management decisions.
We are also working together on developing a more effective management system for Southern Ocean krill fisheries - the cornerstone of the Antarctic ecosystem.
And Norway and Australia share very similar views about the need to move towards a low-carbon future.
That is why it gives me great pleasure today to share my views on the required ‘green shift’ toward a more vibrant, resilient and low emissions society.
The Australian Government is driving this transformation in Australia and working globally to build a future that reflects the Sustainable Development Goals.
As the title of today’s event suggests, this transformation will be underpinned by innovation and enabling environments where everyone is encouraged to play a role - all individuals, businesses, industries and government of all levels.
I am pleased to outline the positive agenda we have set in place in Australia to harness innovation, and support sustainable outcomes across the Australian and global community.
In particular, I’d like to highlight the strong commitment Australia has made to reduce its emissions – providing the signal required to guide low-carbon decision making - and the institutional and policy framework we have established so innovation and sustainable actions can flourish.
Along the way I will highlight the successes and tangible outcomes we have already seen.
Office of Climate Change and Renewables Innovation
To ensure we capture the opportunities presented by climate change, I have created the Office of Climate Change and Renewables Innovation within my Department.
The Office represents a strengthened alignment of our policy machinery, giving a fresh focus to the role of innovation in supporting renewable and low emissions technology outcomes, and to step up our efforts to cut emissions.
The Office brings together the Clean Energy Regulator, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Climate Change Authority and the climate change and renewable energy functions from my Department.
The Office concentrates some $15 billion to incentivise clean technology, innovation and deliver on the ground abatement. This ensures our efforts remain future focused by setting the direction of climate and renewables research in Australia, in particular solar and energy storage.
The appointment of the new Minister for Cities and the Built Environment, Jamie Briggs, further strengthens the Government’s focus on building the vibrant Australia of the future, with greener and more liveable cities.
International context - Australia’s strong commitment
As we all know this is a big year for action on climate change. We all want to see a successful outcome in Paris: an agreement applicable to all countries, able to secure and build action over time.
Australia will play its part. We will reduce our emissions to between 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
This is an ambitious target, requiring substantial and sustained effort. It is a significant progression beyond our existing 2020 commitment.
It will halve Australia’s emissions per person - the equal largest reduction of the G20 economies - and it will lead to an improvement in the emissions intensity of our economy by around two-thirds.
This target builds on our significant record of achievement under the Kyoto Protocol. It places Australia on a pathway toward deeper emissions reductions in the longer term by providing a strong and stable signal to guide decisions aligned with sustainable growth.
We will approach this commitment and those that will follow under a new agreement, with the conviction to secure an enduring climate deal able to meet the challenge of climate change.
Building on a foundation of significant practical action - Australia’s policy response to climate change
Australia will achieve its climate targets and build long-term sustainability through practical measures that harness innovation, improve productivity, reduce costs, and protect the environment.
Our Direct Action measures, with the Emissions Reduction Fund and its safeguard mechanism at the core, are driving innovation and delivering outcomes today.
In concert with action under the Renewable Energy Target (RET), a new National Energy Productivity Plan, and investments by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), we are making deep cuts in our emissions and shaping a cleaner, more resilient Australia.
It is an exciting time and we are in a period of great opportunity.
The Emissions Reduction Fund provides numerous examples. At the first auction in April, 107 projects were contracted to deliver 47 million tonnes of abatement at an average price of $13.95 per tonne. I am very excited about adding to this success at the next auction in November.
But the Fund is not just delivering emission reductions; it is driving innovation across all sectors of the economy.
For example, in the land sector Australia is a world leader in estimating the storage of carbon in soils. The Fund’s soil carbon methods reward innovative land management practices and involve ground breaking technologies.
One of the methods capitalises on Australia’s national carbon accounting model, a pioneering technological development that has been acclaimed by Australian and international experts.
Another example from the Fund, focused on the energy sector, is methods that enhance energy efficiency. I fully expect that projects using these methods will compete in the next auction.
These projects credit emissions reductions achieved through the application of cutting edge technologies. For example, the commercial buildings method incentives building owners to upgrade to state-of-the-art Organic LED lighting technology or install advanced building automation systems to reduce building running costs and improve the buildings’ energy efficiency star ratings.
The successes extend beyond the Fund. The Renewable Energy Target has already shifted the way Australians think about, and use, energy. The contribution of renewables to our overall energy mix is rising.
The Target has allowed Australia to take advantage of innovation and advances in technology. For example, the increased demand for rooftop solar systems driven by the Target has sparked technology improvements in household solar panels and solar hot water systems.
Australia has one of the largest uptake of household solar in the world – something that we all should be immensely proud of.
Our 2020 Renewable Energy Target requires the same amount of large-scale renewable energy to be built in Australia in the next five years than has been built over the last fifteen. This is a major challenge – one which the renewable sector is determined to meet.
We are entering a period of unprecedented opportunity for renewable energy and that is why uniting Australia’s major renewable energy policies and agencies under the Office of Climate and Renewables Innovation will ensure we are best positioned to not only ride, but to contribute to, the low-emissions energy revolution.
The National Energy Productivity Plan will include measures to make energy choices easier and will encourage improvements in the efficiency of appliances, equipment, buildings and transport. It will support and encourage businesses to show leadership in improving energy productivity.
The plan will encourage innovative efforts by government and businesses, and will see the development and application of new technologies that deliver more efficient, lower-cost energy services for consumers.
My colleague Josh Frydenberg, the Minister for Resources and Energy, will have more to say about the National Energy Productivity Plan in coming months. It is an exciting policy. We all know that working smarter by doing more with our energy makes good economic sense and good environmental sense.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency are our major instruments to research, develop, test, and demonstrate emerging technology and solutions.
For instance the $350 million support package for large-scale solar power led by the two agencies will foster the development of clean, affordable solar technologies.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is acting as a catalyst to unlock private investment in clean technologies. For example the Corporation is investing $125 million in a $400 million trust to upgrade the energy performance of older office buildings.
By stepping in early to engage with proponents and be the cornerstone financier for leading edge projects, the Corporation has achieved the remarkable result of attracting $1.80 of private finance for every dollar it invests.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is supporting cutting edge deployment in complementary areas such as providing around $268 million to support two of the largest on‑grid solar PV projects in the Southern Hemisphere, in the New South Wales towns of Nyngan and Moree.
These projects will improve Australia’s knowledge and expertise in utility scale solar energy project development and grid integration.
This is in addition to the $164 million it has invested in 38 solar thermal projects, and the $43 million it has invested in five wave energy technology projects.
We have in place the measures to ensure Australia will benefit from the innovations and technologies emerging on the horizon and that we remain at the forefront of these advances.
The Australian Government has set out science and research priorities to ensure our nation’s best researchers and our nation’s most productive industries can work to mutual advantage.
These investments allow Australia to find new solutions for reducing emissions at home, while capturing the benefits of the emerging international demand for low emissions technologies like carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
This is about building the expertise and the knowhow. A prime example is the investment to human capital being made through the CSIRO’s Energy Flagship, where the Government is supporting around 350 scientists to pursue a dedicated research program exploring new energy technologies for Australia.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is also at the forefront in terms of research, development and demonstration for the next energy innovations.
It has funded projects in wave, geothermal, solar thermal, storage and biofuel technology which are emerging technologies for the future. It is also funding projects to reduce the cost of solar PV technologies and enhance their performance and efficiency through the use of new materials and manufacturing techniques.
To spur future action and to understand any impediments that exist to innovation and technology in Australia, the Government will prepare a Low Emissions Technology Roadmap to build on our track record of success in developing innovative solutions across many areas of science and technology.
The roadmap will build on Australia’s existing significant investments in low emissions science and technology, such as the greater than $1 billion investment we have made in 230 renewable energy projects, with industry matching this investment with more than $2 billion.
The Government’s focus on technology will create the jobs of the future.
I’d like to conclude by re-iterating that Australia’s Green Shift is already well on the way.
Our ambitious but responsible 2030 emissions reduction target, the architecture of the Emissions Reduction Fund and our complementary initiatives, and the investments we are making through our premier science, renewable and innovation agencies are working together to deliver the cleaner and sustainable Australia of tomorrow.
Australia will continue to work to secure a sustainable future across the globe.
I wish you all the best for the seminar. Thank you.