On Friday, 3rd of September the Victorian Parliament ratified a new Climate Change Act. At the heart of the Act is a target for Victoria to reduce its emissions by 20% by 2020 (on 2000 levels). Now we all know that the science tells us that stronger targets than this are going to be necessary to limit climate change, and we’ll continue to campaign for scientific targets. However last Friday Victoria’s greenhouse target was to reduce the state’s emissions by 60% by 2050.

That was an unlegislated target of the ALP Government. Now we have a stronger, nearer term, legislated target which has been supported by all parties in Parliament. It is also an unconditional target, which means that regardless of what happens nationally with emissions trading, Victoria’s target stands. That’s a significant step in the right direction, and a sign that our parliament is beginning to reflect community consensus on the need for climate action in Victoria.

Congratulations to the ALP Government for introducing the Bill, and the Greens and Coalition for supporting it. We were particularly pleased that the Coalition supported the Bill given the federal Liberals and Nationals chaos on the issue. We now have both the ALP and the Coalition in Victoria holding much stronger policy positions than their Federal counterparts.

What’s more achieveing the 20% reductions target will require some significant policy effort. Left unchecked Victoria’s emissions are anticipated to climb to 130 million tonnes per year by 2020, but our 20% target requires that emissions are cut to 96 million tonnes annually by 2020. That’s a cut of 3.4 million tonnes every year for the next decade or 34 million tonnes annually by 2020.

The recently released Climate Change White Paper outlined a number of policies that would lead to some emissions reductions, (e.g. replacing one quarter of Hazelwood and doubling the state’s energy efficiency target), but not in the order of 3.4 million tonnes per year. So now we’ve got the legislative mandate for new climate policies to cut pollution.

As you may know, Environment Victoria has two big ideas that they think all political parties should adopt. First, replace the whole of Hazelwood power station could deliver emissions reductions of 14.5 million tonnes per year by the end of 2012. Second, retrofitting one million Victorian homes for energy and water efficiency could deliver another 2.7 million tonnes of annual abatement while protecting Victorian households against rising utility bills, water shortages and extreme weather.

The passage of the Climate Change Act shows that the Victorian Parliament can rise to the challenge of climate change, regardless of federal inaction. The state election is 12 weeks away. Let’s hope that the policies we need to achieve our new target are seized upon and delivered.

Source: Environment Victoria.

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