Australia can easily cut CO2 emissions



Posted on 13 March 2004  | 
Sydney, Australia - Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution can be halved by 2040, using existing technology and without affecting economic growth, according to a groundbreaking study released today by the Clean Energy Future Group.
 
The Clean Energy Future for Australia study, commissioned by an unprecedented alliance of industry associations, energy organisations and WWF-Australia, found that a 50 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from stationary energy is now achievable within 36 years.
 
There are sufficient resources of clean energy like natural gas, solar, wind and bioenergy to make up the bulk of energy supply in 2040, the study found.
 
Without a switch to clean energy technologies and energy efficiency measures, Australia cannot make urgently needed reductions in CO2 pollution contributing to global warming.
 
The energy sector is by far Australia’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, with pollution levels increasing by more than 30 per cent since 1990. Currently 84 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from coal-fired power stations, which emit more than 170 million tonnes of CO2 every year.
 
“There is no previous study which outlines a bold new energy policy to power an expanding economy and remove our dependence on coal,” said WWF-Australia Climate Change campaign manager Anna Reynolds.
 
”It is now up to leaders and the community to push for the recommended policies urgently needed to remove market barriers, build cleaner industry and drive efficiencies,” Ms Reynolds said.
 
“Australia already has the renewable and gas resource base, and the technology, to reliably supply Australia’s energy needs for the future,” Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy executive director Ric Brazzale said.
 
“The electricity supply industry has said that more than A$30 billion dollars of new investment is required in electricity infrastructure over the next ten years to meet our growing power demands.
 
“It is imperative that this future investment be directed into clean energy production and energy efficiency measures rather than assets that make our greenhouse gas pollution worse,” Mr Brazzale said. 
 
Dr Mark Diesendorf, co-author of the report, said: “The study’s most important finding is that a 50 per cent cut in emissions can be achieved without major technological breakthroughs or a drain on economic growth.” 
 
Commenting on the study, Dr Ian Woods, Senior Research Analyst, AMP Capital Sustainable Funds Team, said: “The Clean Energy Future for Australia study demonstrates that there is significant scope to improve energy efficiency in all sectors. It is also clear that the identification and removal of perverse incentives and other market barriers is critical to implementing renewable energy and energy efficient initiatives cost-effectively.
 
“The study provides incisive thinking, greatly furthering the debate on the opportunities for broadening the future electricity generation base in Australia,” Dr Woods said.

The power sector has traditionally relied heavily on fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas, and is responsible for 37 per cent of all man-made CO2 emissions worldwide - the main heat-trapping gas associated with global warming.
 
The study forms WWF-Australia’s PowerSwitch! vision, part of a global WWF campaign that aims to drastically reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector by switching it from using coal to renewable energy sources, and by improving energy efficiency. 
 
For further information:
Jacqueline McArthur 
Tel: +61 2 8202 1242 
E-mail:  jmcarthur@wwf.org.au
Delta Power Station, fueled by coal, New South Wales, Australia.
© WWF-Canon / Adam Oswell Enlarge

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