Carbon Trust Ready To Work On Saving Energy

Carbon Trust Ready To Work On Saving Energy

He admits that a carbon price is still the single most important thing to accelerate industry and new opportunities, but Robert Hill, an environment minister under the Howard government and now chairman of the new Carbon Trust, says it will focus on energy savings programmes that will work with the financial sector. He told the Climate Change @ Work in Sydney last week that, despite its formation almost a year ago, the trust is still in transition.

The ABC PM programme (26 May 2010):

MARK COLVIN: It’s almost a year since the Federal Government announced that it would set up the Australian Carbon Trust. The Prime Minister said this was a practical, local way to help businesses and households save money by becoming more energy efficient.

But the $75 million program is still not off the ground. The trust has a temporary office in Brisbane but still no functioning website. Its chairman, the former Howard government environment minister, Robert Hill, says they haven’t just been sitting around but there have been complex administrative challenges.

Bronwyn Herbert reports.

BRONWYN HERBERT: The Federal Government pitched the Australian Carbon Trust as a practical way for Australia to reduce its greenhouse footprint, mainly through encouraging businesses to retrofit buildings to become more energy efficient.

Robert Hill was an environment minister under the Howard government and is now the chairman of the trust. He told a green jobs conference in Sydney today that, despite its formation almost a year ago, the trust is still in transition.

ROBERT HILL: We’re only just in the process of being set up. We’re based in Brisbane. We’ve just appointed our CEO (chief executive officer). We’re just negotiating the final transfer of the programs from the Government and we’ll have to get out there and do the business.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Now there’s been a fair delay in getting the Australian Carbon Trust up and running and why the delay?

ROBERT HILL: It’s taken a while but I think it’s because it’s new. The Australian Government hasn’t ever outsourced its climate change programs in this way so every step has been quite challenging.

BRONWYN HERBERT: So when will we see it up and running?

ROBERT HILL: Well the senior executives are all appointed now and they have at least temporary offices in Queensland, although we’re about to sign a lease and the negotiation of transfer of the programs from Canberra is at its final stages. So haven’t just been sitting around.

BRONWYN HERBERT: He says the trust will set up an energy savings program that will work with the financial sector. Its aim is to overcome what the Federal Government has identified as a market failure.

ROBERT HILL: If you have a situation where there’s not a relationship between the energy saving and the owner, in other words if the tenant’s paying the, well getting the benefit for the energy saving, then why is the, why is the owner going to invest the money?

So there’s been failures both in, in the way in which we’ve structured our leases generally in Australia and also there’s been failures in terms of the economics of the market, market model and it wants us to try and overcome those failures and to, and it’s prepared to put public money into work with the banks and take up the opportunities to retrofit.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Apart from the energy efficiency program, the trust will also set up a program for householders to pledge to save energy in their own homes to gain tax benefits.

The carbon trust program was seen as the local aspect of Australia’s attempt to reduce its carbon emissions, alongside the carbon pollution reduction scheme. Robert Hill says that scheme would have become a reality if his own side of politics hadn’t had a leadership spill.

ROBERT HILL: They almost did it successfully if it hadn’t have been for my side imploding at the, at the line they would’ve have. So then they wouldn’t have been too smart by half. They would have been very clever wouldn’t they? That’s how, that’s how politics, politics works.

BRONWYN HERBERT: In terms of the carbon pollution reduction scheme, you mentioned that it’s unnecessarily complex. What changes would have made it more palatable in your view?

ROBERT HILL: Well, that’s a big question because you can’t just sort of take out a piece or add another, another piece. But I’m just saying that the, the final Australian model was a very complex model in terms of the, you know, the exemptions and the offsets and so forth and I think the complexity was one of the reasons, or contributed to a lack of public confidence.

BRONWYN HERBERT: He says a carbon price is still the single most important thing to accelerate industry and new opportunities. But despite a stalemate in fixing a price on carbon, there are other ways to boost the green economy.

John Buchanan is the director of the Workplace Research Centre at the University of Sydney.

JOHN BUCHANAN: There are a whole range of initiatives bubbling up from below and I suppose the thing that’s of interest to us, as researchers, is why isn’t policy engaging with these more spontaneous movements? You know Australia has led the pack historically, you know, Jack Mundy and the green bans showed that Australians can support an environmental stance.

But, in a sense, if there’s a problem in Australia it is in the leadership. I think the population at large is ready to move but the leadership itself has been very cumbersome and compromising in the way it moves forward and that’s not inspiring leadership.


And for some insight into what the Carbon Trust was set up to do we go back to an announcement by Minister Penny Wong (25 March 2010):

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has announced the directors and management team of the Australian Carbon Trust Limited.

The Australian Carbon Trust – to be chaired by Professor Robert Hill – will lead efforts to boost energy efficiency in households and businesses across Australia. It will be responsible for implementing the Energy Efficiency Trust and the Energy Efficiency Savings Pledge Fund.

The Australian Carbon Trust head office will be based in Brisbane.
Senator Wong announced the appointment of the following directors to the Trust Board:

  • Martijn Wilder, Head of Baker & McKenzie’s Global Climate Change and Emissions Trading Practice.
  • Tony Coleman, Director of Lonergan Edwards Associates.
  • Don Matthews, National President of the Australian Industry Group and former Chief Operating Officer of Amcor Australasia.

“These directors will bring a great diversity of commercial and governance experience to the Board of the Australian Carbon Trust,” Senator Wong said.
“The Australian Carbon Trust represents an innovative new way of engaging Australian households and businesses to support them to take action to save energy.”

Senator Wong also announced the appointment of the Trust management team:

  • Chief Executive Officer Meg McDonald, who was previously President and Treasurer of Alcoa Foundation and Director, Global Issues, Alcoa Inc.
  • Chief Operations Officer Cath Bremner, who was previously Head of International Development at The Carbon Trust in London.
  • Chief Financial Officer Andrew Powell brings a wealth of financial management expertise to the position.

The Energy Efficiency Trust will promote the use of energy efficient technologies and practices – including through financing the retrofitting of commercial buildings.

The Energy Efficiency Savings Pledge Fund will help householders identify energy efficiency opportunities. Using web-based tools, households will be able to work out their energy use and identify ways to save energy and save money. The Pledge Fund will also enable householders to donate in a tax efficient way towards the purchase and retirement of Australian Emissions Units – or offsets approved under the National Carbon Offset Standard.


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