20 Apr 2018


Statement of WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman

When the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) was announced last year, WWF gave it the benefit of the doubt, despite the scant detail that supported this major economic reform.

The High Level Design Document released today remains light on detail. However it is clear that the proposed emissions reduction target for the electricity sector in the scheme is weak and will not deliver the greenhouse reductions required to keep Australia on track to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement.

The weak target is proposed to be legislated for 10 years, so that a change can only be made through legislation, which will provoke the same ill-informed debate yet again.

The weak target will create continued uncertainty in the energy sector, and because the target does not apply to the Western Australian and Northern Territory electricity sectors, or the other energy-intensive sectors like agriculture, the scheme will create uncertainty in other sectors of the economy as well.

The transparency of the scheme is reduced by the proposed target being expressed as an ‘emissions intensity target’ rather than as a unit-of-pollution – CO2-equivalent.

The scheme proposes that the highly-successful Renewable Energy Target scheme be not continued after 2020. It also proposes to free-ride off the renewable energy targets adopted by the states and territories.

WWF calls on COAG leaders to change the NEG so that:

  • The scheme’s emission reduction target will put Australia on track to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement;
  • The scheme’s emission reduction target is expressed as CO2-equivalent;
  • The scheme’s target is additional to the renewable energy targets adopted by the states and territories;
  • The Renewable Energy Target scheme is extended to 2030;
  • A whole-of-economy greenhouse gas emissions reduction scheme is established to cost-effectively reduce emissions from other sectors.

This should be accompanied by policy and financial mechanisms to stop excessive tree-clearing which greatly increases greenhouse gas emissions, squanders billions of dollars already spent to reduce carbon pollution, and kills threatened species.

History of policy approaches, their impacts, and WWF’s position

  • For 30 years WWF has stressed the importance of taking action on climate change.
  • WWF was a strong supporter of the Rudd/Gillard government’s decision to introduce a cost-effective greenhouse gas pollution reduction scheme.
  • It built on a similar scheme proposed by the Howard government in 2007.
  • Both policies followed on from the successful NSW Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme, which commenced in 2003, and was the first mandatory, market-based greenhouse gas reduction scheme in the world.
  • WWF opposed the Abbott government’s scrapping of the Rudd/Gillard government’s scheme and its replacement with an ineffective, expensive and unwieldy government granted-based scheme.
  • As a result of the Abbott government’s policies, Australia became the first country in the world to remove a price on carbon.
  • Had the Rudd/Gillard government’s carbon price remained, it would have encouraged the construction of new clean electricity generating infrastructure by providing investment certainty to power companies and banks.
  • Instead the nation has been gripped by a decade of politically driven ‘climate wars’ fuelling enormous market uncertainty.
  • Ordinary Australians and businesses have suffered increasing energy prices because of this volatility and the unnecessary spending of $30 billion on gold plating networks at a time when energy demand was going down.
  • Despite this turmoil there have been some positive developments in recent years with the cost of renewable energy plummeting and companies and citizens taking action to reduce emissions.