Australia’s Victoria to toughen Climate Act, rules out state ETS

Published 04:36 on February 11, 2016  /  Last updated at 04:36 on February 11, 2016  /  Asia Pacific, Australia  /  No Comments

Victoria’s Climate Change Minister Lisa Neville on Thursday presented a host of recommendations from an independent panel on how to scale up state law to drive emission cuts, but has ruled out launching a state emissions trading scheme.

Victoria’s Climate Change Minister Lisa Neville on Thursday presented a host of recommendations from an independent panel on how to scale up state law to drive emission cuts, but has ruled out launching a state emissions trading scheme.

The state Labor government appointed an independent review panel led by lawfirm Baker & McKenzie’s Martijn Wilder last year to provide advice on how to strengthen the Climate Act, after the previous Coalition government abandoned the state GHG emissions target in 2011.

Neville on Thursday welcomed the 33 recommendations made by the panel. “This was an important review that will ensure Victoria is well positioned to deal with the challenges of climate change,” she said.

But despite media speculation last year that Victoria, which emits around a fifth of Australia’s total GHG emissions, might pursue a state carbon market, this is not on the steps.

“The Labor Government has ruled out a state-based emissions trading framework, as this is a Commonwealth responsibility and also ruled out a shadow carbon price,” a statement from state Premier Daniel Andrews said.

The panel had not made specific recommendations on whether or not Victoria should have an ETS, acknowledging that such a move would be a government decision, but said the new Climate Change Act should be penned in a way that gave the state government the authority to design its own climate policies independent of the federal government.

“The Act should vest in the Minister a clear legal power to implement measures to reduce GHG emissions at source, particularly from high emitting sectors, to achieve the long-term emissions reduction target. This would include the power to impose emissions limits under EPA licences, establishing a state-based emissions trading scheme (which could link to other state or international schemes), adopting carbon taxes or other targeted financial incentives or charges and the accelerated phase-out or upgrade of high GHG emitting facilities,” it said.

In November, neighbouring South Australia rejected recommendations from a policy review panel that the state should establish an ETS that could be linked to California’s cap-and-trade scheme.

LONG-TERM AMBITION

Victoria had originally intended to cut GHG emissions 20% below 2000 levels by 2020, but that target was abandoned by the previous government.

The review panel said Victoria should set a legally binding long-term emissions target (2050) which should – like the UN Paris agreement – be based on a bottom-up, pledge-and-review process.

It said Victoria should:

– Review the target every 5 years to allow for ambition to be raised
– Develop 5-yearly interim targets
– Require that climate change impacts should be taken into consideration across the entire state government, not just for the climate change minister, as is the case now
– Develop tools to consider, calculate and quantify future liability and benefits from climate-related decisions
– Develop an adaptation and disaster risk reduction action plan
– Develop mitigation policies in line with the long-term target

“A government response to the independent review report will follow,” the Victoria government website said. It will also release a “whole of government Victorian Climate Change Framework” later this year.

The review panel’s report is available here.

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com

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