After a year of pushing for more action on electric vehicles and energy efficiency, I am pleased that the Government has finally decided to act on these issues.
Today’s announcements are a good start, but much more can be done. Electric vehicles and energy efficiency are low hanging fruit for reducing emissions and power bills, and improving public health.
Developing a national electric vehicle strategy was the one of seventeen consensus recommendations of the Senate inquiry I chaired, which handed down its final report in January of this year.
Now it’s time for the Government to adopt the other sixteen recommendations, including establishing national EV targets, introducing more stringent vehicle emissions standards, and develop an EV manufacturing roadmap.
Australia lags well behind comparable countries on EV uptake. We must act swiftly to accelerate our EV uptake so that we can realise the substantial economic, health, environmental and consumer benefits of the EV revolution.
I welcome the Government’s announcement that it will establish an Energy Efficiency Communities Program for businesses and community organisations. Improving our energy efficiency is the least cost way we can reduce our emissions.
But more substantive action is required. Australia needs a national energy efficiency strategy to capitalise on the potential of energy efficiency. A national energy efficiency strategy would cut people’s energy bills by $7.7 billion a year and create 120,000 job years of employment, as shown by a recent report by the Energy Efficiency Council.
Other measures, such as the bill I introduced to help people who are renting improve their energy efficiency, would provide much needed relief to those who need it most.
While I support the announcement of additional funding for the rebranded Climate Solutions Fund, I have serious concerns around the integrity of methodologies used. More work must be undertaken to ensure the emissions reductions claimed are actually occurring, and that the relevant activity would not have happened anyway.
I note that the announcement is also light on detail, with no breakdown of how $1.5 billion of the $3.5 billion package will be spent. The Government should move quickly to disclose how it will spend the remainder of its package.