CLEANTECH : Climate Warming between Countries; Australia and New Zealand Could Both Learn from Each Other as They Set about Cutting Greenhouse Gases, Vicki Jayne Finds at a Trans-Tasman Climate Change Conference

Article excerpt

Byline: Vicki Jayne

New Zealand ahead of the Aussies? Well Co it doesnCOt happen often (except in sport, of course) but a recent Sydney conference focusing on business response to climate change saw this country lauded by Aussies as being on the front foot.

New ZealandCOs Government has, with its Emissions Trading Scheme, at least provided some certainty around carbon pricing Co and therefore a firmer platform for business planning. Absence of clear policy signals from AustraliaCOs Federal government has made it harder for businesses across the ditch to develop strategic responses to both the opportunities and threats of adjustment to a carbon-constrained future.

And the good news? Both countries can cut their greenhouse gases by at least 15 percent by 2020 in ways that actually benefit the economy. But to do it, they need a price on carbon and a full range of complementary measures tailored to the needs of different business sectors.

ThatCOs according to a communiquE[umlaut] issued during the sixth Australia-New Zealand Climate Change and Business Conference, which also noted that the two countries could learn from each other Co Australia from the Kiwi experience of implementing a price on carbon and New Zealand from AustraliaCOs experience with C[pounds sterling]complementary measuresC[yen], both regulatory and incentive.

What the range of business, political, investment, science and technical experts at the conference also made clear is business canCOt afford to wait for the global policy fog to clear before taking action to adjust to what is a major shift in economic and social priorities.

Certainly China is not hanging about. As Robert Hansor of Lloyds Register Quality Assurance pointed out, it doesnCOt need an international agreement to aggressively implement emission reduction measures. Driven by its energy security concerns and a desire to maintain economic competitiveness, it is pouring US$740 billion into renewable energy and energy efficiency.

It could even be argued that the short-term absence of a binding climate agreement following Copenhagen gives China a competitive advantage in the race to win the green economy, suggested Anthony Hobley, partner and head of Global Climate Change and Carbon Finance at Norton Rose.

Cleantech opportunities aside, much of the adjustment that needs to be made is beneficial to business. ThereCOs no silver bullet, chair of ClimateWorks Australia John Thwaites told conference delegates. But there are opportunities that have a net return Co ranging from energy efficiency measures to commercial property retrofits.

In a report that analyses 54 emission reduction opportunities across 10 sectors of the economy, ClimateWorks has found Australia could achieve a 25 percent reduction in emissions from 2000 levels at low cost, using technologies already available.

The report, Low Carbon Growth Plan for Australia (see www.climateworksaustralia.org) also found that C[pounds sterling]delaying action will mean some low-cost opportunities are lost, ensuring greater cost to society and business in the long runC[yen].

The message that delay is costly also came from Professor Andy Pitman, co-director of the University of NSWCOs Climate Change Research Centre who told delegates that human-induced climate change is unequivocal, that long-term, large-scale impacts are coming at us and that there is little time to respond. …