Taking action for Victoria's Future: The Climate Change White Paper - Action Plan
Written by: Kate Gavens, EPA Victoria
In late July 2010 the Victorian Government released Taking Action for Victoria’s Future: The Climate Change White Paper – Action Plan (The Action Plan) and introduced the Victorian Climate Change Bill into Parliament.
The Action Plan outlines ten new actions to reduce Victoria’s emissions; capitalise on new jobs, new technologies and new markets; and adapt to a changing climate.
This included a legislative commitment to reduce Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020 (based on 2000 levels). This is a significant target which will be achieve through the broad range of measures in the Action Plan including through improving energy efficiency, increased use of solar, wind and other renewable energy sources, increased gas and a significant reduction in brown coal generation.
Climate Change is a huge challenge for the state, but also a great opportunity. There are a number of initiatives coming from the package of measures announced that Victorian businesses can benefit from.
Driving more efficient industry
The Victorian Climate Change Bill introduces amendments to the Environment Protection Act 1970 to clarify that the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) can regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
These powers clarify that EPA regulations may be developed that set a greenhouse gas ‘trigger’ to require licensing and works approvals for general industrial and commercial sites that are large emitters and energy users.
This coupled with best practice conditions will ensure that best practice standards and technologies are being used in Victoria.
This will give Victorian businesses the advantage in a low carbon future and ensuring inefficient, long-lasting technologies are not ‘locked-in’.
Expanding the Environment and Resource Efficiency
The Climate Change White Paper also announced the Victorian Government’s intention to undertake industry consultation to investigate options for the expansion of the Environment and Resource Efficiency Plans (EREP) program.
A unique regulatory program run by EPA Victoria, large energy and water users are required to show they have assessed their operations, identified opportunities to improve resource efficiency and implement cost effective opportunities.
The results of the program speak for themselves, through the EREP program and its predecessor the Industry Greenhouse Program, businesses have identified and are implementing expected savings of approximately two million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions with combined annual cost reductions of $104 million.
Investigating the expansion of this program will include looking at what savings can be further delivered through:
- increasing the number of participating firms
- having sites prepare new plans once their previous plans expire; and
- altering the mandatory implementation payback calculations to include such factors as a future carbon price.
Design of regulatory initiatives
With all these initiatives, the announcements in the Climate Change White Paper signal the beginning of a concerted period of industry and broader community consultation on how these initiatives will work in practice.
The designs of the programs are by no means fixed and will require amendments to subordinate legislation. These amendments will be subject to range of checks and balances including requirements for consultation, independent review processes and impact assessments.
This process will provide significant opportunity for consultation and feedback on appropriate design of the initiatives.
The White Paper also introduces a number of opportunities for Victorian businesses to receive Victorian Government support to tackle climate change.
The Climate Change Bill introduced the concept of Climate Covenants. Climate Covenants compliment existing Sustainability Covenants and are an important new tool to drive voluntary climate change action with industry, regions and communities. These Covenants will empower organisations that want to move beyond compliance with legal requirements and be proactive in responding to climate change.
Clean Business Fund
The Clean Business Fund will support projects that would have been viable under a carbon price but uncommercial otherwise. The Fund will also be used to form partnerships with industry bodies, providing information, tools and networks to assist businesses to respond to the changes in the business environment and the potential impacts of climate change.
Partnership projects through the Fund will also support projects that can deliver carbon emissions reductions across supply chains and boost businesses’ bottom lines.
Opportunities to be involved
The initiatives outlined in the Climate Change White Paper provide exciting opportunities for business to take early action on climate change.
A Climate Change White Paper implementation plan will be released later in 2010 and outline how the initiatives in the Action Plan will be further developed.
This will outline opportunities for businesses to be involved in and shape these initiatives further.
More information is available on Taking Action for Victoria’s Future website: www.premier.vic.gov.au/climate-change.html