Polluters must pay: Connor

Climate Change Institute CEO John Connor says the federal government's carbon pricing assistance promise doesn't go far enough

Polluters must pay: Connor
Polluters must pay: Connor

April 14, 2011

Making our biggest polluters finally begin to pay for their pollution to allow support for low and middle income households should be the priority of Carbon Pricing the Climate Institute says.

Institute CEO John Connor welcomed Minister Greg Combet’s confirmation that targeted assistance will be provided to Australians as carbon pricing changes make
their impact, but argues the policy should have a broader focus.

"Putting a price on pollution will drive changes in the investments and power generation decisions energy retailers make," Connor says.

"Therefore to help households and business in a lasting way, and encourage cleaner industries, support should be backed by a national initiative to improve Australia’s woefully wasteful use of energy."

Alongside a pollution price, the Climate Institute is calling on the federal government to establish a ‘National Energy Savings Initiative’ to help households and businesses cut their energy bills.

Recommended by the Prime Minister’s Task Group on Energy Efficiency, a national energy savings initiative will ensure energy retailers invest in efficiency improvements in households and businesses and help users manage energy bills.

Connor says carbon pollution and clean energy policies have become scapegoats for electricity price rises which are being driven primarily by rising fuel costs and the need for network upgrades.

"Its time to put an end to the irresponsible scare campaign on costs of living and focus efforts on pollution and clean energy policies that
make a real difference to our still rising carbon pollution," he says.

"This will help spark investment in our abundant clean energy resources."

Connor adds that Australia’s energy efficiency efforts lag well behind our key trading partners.

"Improving energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy is long overdue and critical to ensure the long-term global competitiveness and productivity of a range of sectors from manufacturing to mining," he says.

"A renewed focus on energy efficiency will also help grow clean and efficient industries, providing new jobs and ensuring Australia remains competitive in the emerging global low pollution economy."


Modelling undertaken for the Prime Minister’s Task Group on Energy Efficiency found that by 2020 a national initiative could reduce annual household energy bills by an average of $87 - $180.

For some households the scheme could deliver annual savings of up to $296. The modelling also shows that the scheme would defer the need to invest in generation and network infrastructure, saving up to $12 billion by 2040.

"Investing in energy efficiency is a no brainer – it keeps energy bills down and makes homes warmer during winter and cooler during summer," Connor says.

"Properly targeted household support is a vital part of a comprehensive pollution pricing and clean energy reform package, this is an important step as we move to resolve other issues and ensure Australia is on track to pollution reduction and cleaner industries.

"With financial assistance alongside smart energy efficiency policies, Australian households can actually be better off with a pollution price than they would otherwise be."

"We look forward to further details on this household support and how it targets low income and vulnerable households relying on pensions and allowances like Newstart,"
he says.

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