Energy Futures 2013: Coalition backs CFI

One of the benefits of having an office in Melbourne is being able to attend a broader range of talks than Alice Springs.

For example, I’m pretty sure Greg Hunt has not done a presentation in Alice but tonight I attended his talk at Melbourne Energy Institute’s Energy Futures 2013 seminar series.

Before I could even take a seat, we were treated to a quiet protest of people who turned their back on podium under the slogan “don’t turn your back on the future”.

Greg Hunt outlined his version of embracing the future: agreement on the science and sharing of the targets, but a carbon purchasing fund instead of a carbon price to get there.

If elected, the emissions reduction fund would be based around the existing Carbon Farming Initiative – the Coalition would keep the CFI, the Clean Energy Regulator to administer it and the measurement system (NGERs) for methodologies, but would broaden the CFI to include industry activities as well as the land sector. Encouragingly, Hunt also emphasised the potential of the land sector to contribute abatement outlined in Garnaut’s reports.

This is good news for the CFI. It looks like it’s here to stay.

However, there were hints of uncertainty for the land sector in Greg Hunt’s presentation. The emissions reduction fund budget is $300m, $500m and $750m in the first three years – a huge reduction on current spending across all mitigation policies. This is worrying against Hunt’s comments that the emissions reduction fund is “overallocated for what we need”. Hunt also said that energy efficiency will be early major winner.

When one of the panelists, Michael Brear, was introduced as an engineer from The University of Melbourne, Greg Hunt responded “I like engineers!” Without hesitation Michael said “I like some politicians!”

We all laughed. But if the Coalition is elected, we need to see the details of support for emissions reduction in the land sector, including existing projects.

If I got to ask a question, this is what it would be: You said you support the CFI. Part of the CFI includes provisions designed to make it easier for native title holders. The Coalition put up amendments to weaken these provisions which were voted down. Will you support Indigenous land projects and will you again introduce legislation to weaken the native title provisions?