Australia’s climate policy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few decades, you’re probably well aware of the issues of climate change. There are a number of suggestions as to why this is occurring, though the most widely accepted theory is that human activities are leading to increased concentrations of CO2 In the atmosphere. This creates what is called the ‘greenhouse effect’, in that it locks in heat which in turn raises the climate.

Across Australia and the world, global warming has become a real hot-button political issue. Since the Kyoto protocol in 1997, the Australian government has set targets to reduce Australia’s emissions as its contribution in the effort of stopping the climate from rising any higher.

What is Australia’s emission target?

Australia’s current target is to reduce its carbon emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030 compared to emission levels in 2005. This follows agreements made in late 2015 at the Paris Climate talks to keep global temperatures from rising 2°C above pre-industrial levels. This is a much larger commitment than Australia’s previous emissions target which was 5% emissions reduction by 2020 compared to 2000.

How is the government reducing emissions?

While the states and territories can encourage environmentally friendly attitudes and policies, the federal government is responsible for large-scale forms of climate policy as it has more funding and is equipped with broader powers. Since 2013, there have been two main mechanisms for reducing carbon emissions – carbon trading and the emissions reduction fund.

Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF)

The ERF is an institute created by the Abbott government as an alternative to the controversial carbon tax scheme. The ERF’s purpose is essentially to pay firms to reduce their emissions. This scheme was adopted as a means to reach the original emissions target while not passing on the cost to households, however there is doubt the ERF can reach the new emissions reduction targets of 26-28 per cent.

Carbon capture

The other carbon reduction method is carbon capture. In Australia, this is usually done by paying property holders to turn and treat their land in such a way that carbon is trapped within the soil. This is a much less effective form of carbon reduction than the ERF, and there is also some evidence to suggest carbon capture is overall ineffective.

How can you reduce your carbon footprint?

While government policy plays a large part in reducing carbon emissions, you too can reduce your impact on the earth. Most Australian retailers offer GreenPower plans, which provide the option to have 10, 20 or 100 per cent of your household energy usage to be purchased from renewable energy generators. 10% plans start for as little as $1 per day (on top of your standard energy bill).

If you want to save on your electricity bill while doing your part for the environment, then consider installing rooftop PV solar. Although solar systems are quite an investment, they can potentially save you money on your electricity bill in the long term, all the while without producing any emissions. Additionally at the time of writing, the government offers a few rebates and incentives for installing solar, potentially saving you thousands of dollars.

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