SCEC’s Climate Change backgrounder-State election

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MEDIA BACKGROUNDER – 27 January 2015

Climate Change Policy in the Sunshine State: Three Years Lost

Take Home Message

The risks that climate change represents to Queensland’s economy and way of life, the economic benefits of the transition to a low carbon economy and the financial risk and dubious economics of the coal industry are now well documented and clear. Despite this, over the last three years the current Queensland Government has systematically unraveled incentives for a Queensland renewable energy and efficiency industry whilst providing massive financial incentives for an 80% foreign owned coal industry. The current government has also rolled back much regulation in place designed to aid Queensland proactively build resilience thus reducing exposure to the economic, societal, environmental and legal risks of climate change.

Queensland and Climate Change:

  • South East Queensland is a climate change hot spot with other parts of the State (e.g. North Queensland) vulnerable to climate change due to proximity to coastal hazards[i]

Containing Climate to Internationally Agreed Levels:[ii]

  • Containing global temperature rise below the internationally agreed red line of 2°C means keeping massive quantities of coal, oil and gas in the ground.
  • Containing the world’s warming means swiftly transitioning to renewable energy and away from dirty, extreme and unconventional energy sources in all parts of the world.

Queensland Government Support for Coal and Mining in General:

  • “We are in the coal business” Campbell Newman (June 02 2012)[iii]
  • The Queensland Government handed out $9.5 billion to the coal and mining industries over the last 6 years with $1.5 billion (60% royalties) budgeted this year.
  • Royalty holiday, infrastructure boosts and fast tracking of mine approvals with dubious due diligence, e.g. Adani[iv], Acland.[v]
  • Significant reduction in right of Australian citizens to object to mines.[vi]

Coal and Queensland’s Economy:[vii]

  • 99% Queenslanders don’t work in Coal.
  • 96% State revenue doesn’t come from coal.
  • 93% economic revenue doesn’t come from coal.
  • The coal industry is 80% foreign owned.

Queensland Government “Support” for Renewable Energy:[viii]

  • Terminated plethora of energy efficiency and renewable orientated funds and schemes for a saving of $270mn[ix]: e.g. $50m Renewable Energy Fund; $50m Smart Energy Savings Program; Waste Avoidance and Resource Efficiency Fund; Local Government Sustainable Future Fund; Solar Initiatives Package; Future Growth Fund $50m Renewable Energy Fund; $50m Smart Energy Savings Program.
  • Terminated $75mn funding to $1.2bn Solar Dawn project in Chinchilla (300 jobs, $60mn research for UQ).
  • Closed mandated 8c/kWH feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme and FITs are now paid by retailers with no mandated minimum in the Energex area of SE Queensland.
  • In December 2013, Campbell Newman blamed the carbon price and green energy schemes for increases in electricity prices, despite evidence to the contrary from the Queensland Competition Authority.

Support for Adaptation and Mitigation:

  • $430m Queensland Climate Change Fund which provides $30m a year for climate change initiativesviii Removal of all reference to climate change in the Queensland Coastal Plan[x]
  • Direction from the Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney MP to Moreton Bay Regional Council to remove all reference to projected sea level rise from their planning scheme[xi]

For further information please contact: Ian Edwards – 0412 594 429

[i] “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change”, IPCC, 2014

[ii] “The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2°C”, McGlade & Ekins, Nature, 8 January, 2015

[iii] “Premier Campbell Newman will not halt port and industry development on Queensland's coast to protect Great Barrier Reef”, Courier Mail, 2 June 2014

[iv] "Adani's $10-billion gamble", Business Today, 18 January 2015

[v] "Donors get mine approval 'on quiet'", The Australian, 12 January 2015

[vi] “Mining coup in Queensland removes public objection rights”, McGrath, 2014

[vii] “The Mouse that Roared”, Australian Institute, 2014

[viii] “Campbell Newman orders Anna Bligh’s husband Greg Withers to kill green schemes”, The Australian, 28 March 2012

[ix] “Huge solar project in limbo as Newman pulls funding”, Brisbane Times, 29 March 2012

[x] “Retreat from retreat – the backward evolution of sea-level rise policy in Australia, and the implications for local government”, Bell & Baker-Jones, 2014

[xi] “Jeff Seeney orders Moreton Bay Regional Council to remove references to climate change-derived sea level rises from regional plan”, ABC, 9 December 2014