University Of Tasmania
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Renewable energy policy development in Australia as a response to climatic change

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posted on 2023-05-26, 17:55 authored by Howman, Alison
This thesis examines the development of renewable energy policy in Australia as a response to climate change. Premised on the fact that climate change is a manifestation of humanity currently not living within sustainable limits, and that climate change is a global issue requiring a global response, the development of renewable energy alternatives to electricity supply is envisaged to play an increasing role in a carbon constrained world. In response to international efforts supporting the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and to address notoriety gained from being one the highest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, the Commonwealth of Australia, initiated measures to facilitate greenhouse gas abatement. Australia set global precedents by taking the lead through the establishment of the Australian Greenhouse Office and the implementation of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000. The Act effectively launched an era of renewable energy activity in Australia associated with wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydro power developments. While ostensibly Australia's political climate should have provided extremely favourable conditions for the development of renewable energy solutions this has not proved to be the case. To find out what has positively influenced, or oppositely constrained, developments in Australia this study set out to address two main aims. First, to determine international and Commonwealth of Australia factors influencing renewable energy policy developments in Australia. Second, to assess whether or not the Commonwealth is serious about developing renewable energy resources in Australia. International and Commonwealth processes that have influenced renewable energy policy developments were investigated through a search and review of available literature and reports. The advancement of climate change policies and associated growth of renewable energy developments were traced from the 1970s until 2003. Key issues and debates in Australia were identified through reports and a detailed examination and assessment of the Commonwealth Government's Parliamentary Debates from February 1997 until December 2003. Information drawn from 948 Hansards was gathered and thematically analysed to identify the main facets of political discussion. A number of issues were identified as effecting Australia's renewable energy developments. Australia's position as the world's largest per capita greenhouse gas emitter and the Commonwealth Government's refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol are factors of international imp01iance. So too is the alliance between Australia and the United States of America regarding climate change related initiatives. Insecurity sunounding the nature and longevity of the sole mandatory response to global climate change, in the form of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 and its Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, can be considered to be the most influential factor impacting on renewable energy developments in Australia. The Commonwealth Government's focus on cleaner coal technology and geosequestration at the expense of renewable energy research and development also has significant short and long term implications. Ineffective allocation of budgets, the existence of a strong fossil fuel lobby and the absence of a national energy policy all contribute to a milieu not conducive to successful development and implementation of renewable energy initiatives. Based on a review of these key issues the study concludes that, despite the imminence of climate change and the knowledge that deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of up to 5 0-60 per cent this century are envisaged, the development of renewable energy alternatives to fossil fuel derived electricity sources has been restricted by the Australian Commonwealth Government. The conclusion is, Australia has not implemented the policies and practices that are required to encourage increased investment and provide the opportunity for renewable energy industries to grow. Australia does not have a renewable energy policy and is not serious about developing its renewable energy resources.


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Copyright 2004 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.Env.Mgt.)--University of Tasmania, 2004. Includes bibliographical references

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