I am sure many of us can remember the dire warnings that the climate scientists gave us ten years ago: If we do not reduce our carbon footprint urgently, droughts will become longer and drier, floods levels when they happen will increase and cyclones will become more frequent with an intensity never previously experienced in our lifetimes. So I was certainly not surprised to see the dramatic weather events which we have experienced over the past few years and this year in particular.
However, I was flabbergasted when I heard that the first programmes to be cut in honour of assisting our fellow Australians affected by the “natural” disasters were the very initiatives aimed at reducing carbon pollution, for example the Solar Flagships Programme.
Fortunately the Greens seem to have insisted on some of that funding being reinstated but it still leaves me with a big question mark regarding the political will to really make the hard changes we need to face up to.
With the upcoming state election, solar power installers are eagerly awaiting news regarding renewable energy policy. The NSW Liberal party have given a vague but encouraging undertaking to continue their previous policy. Here is an extract from their website:“We will introduce a renewable energy buy-back scheme – sometimes known as a feed-in tariff. The scheme will:
- be a credit or payment to households, institutions or businesses for the renewable power they produce. This will include small-scale solar power from household rooftops; and
- encourage households to make decisions that save energy bills over the medium term.”
It is quite a surprise to see that the coalition seems to be more progressive on environmental initiatives than Labor. I just cannot help thinking that the mining industry are the real power brokers in this country. After all, when the federal government suggested that mining companies should pay the super profits tax, we saw an almost immediate change in prime minister! Julia Gillard then offered a deal to reduce the tax, saving the mining companies a stupendous amount of cash.
Freedom of Information documents released by Treasury show the original super profits tax would have made $99 billion in revenue over a decade. This compares with the revised Minerals Resources Rent Tax which is forecast to earn $38.5 billion over the same period. Considering the mining giants invested a measly few million in advertising against the new tax, could this be considered the best investment of all time?
The good news is that new solar installations completed before June 30 2011 can still take advantage of the five times renewable energy certificate multiplier, reducing the cost of a small scale solar power system by around $1200 compared with those installed after July. So if you have been thinking about reducing your ever increasing power bills either at home or in your small business, now is the time to act.