ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: We can tackle energy costs and climate change

24 September 2018

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has welcomed the release of a study last week by Frontier Economics, commissioned by ACOSS and the Brotherhood of St Lawrence, that shows that energy prices will fall with investment in clean energy under various scenarios modelled to meet responsibilities under the Paris Agreement. The modelling also suggests that more ambitious targets will have more benefits over time.

Ms Susan Helyar, Director of ACTCOSS, said, “As the ACT Energy Consumer Advocate we welcome the release of this report. People on low incomes or experiencing disadvantage are more vulnerable to climate change impacts and a poorly managed transition to a clean economy. As Canberra heads out of a cold winter and into a hot summer and a risky bushfire season we are committed to advocating strongly on both reducing energy costs and the impacts of human induced climate change.

“The modelling in this report shows that, with the right settings, a National Energy Guarantee (or similar mechanism) could drive rapid emissions reductions in the electricity sector and put downward pressure on energy prices. Higher emissions reduction targets for the energy sector provides more ‘bang for your buck’, producing significantly more emissions reductions than lower targets, and generate similar savings to residential retail prices.

“Excluding Energy Intensive Trade Exposed Industries (EITEs) from the National Energy Guarantee would shift costs to other consumers. Where there is a need, highly vulnerable groups such as people on low incomes, affected workers and communities, and EITEs, should be supported to ensure they are not worse off.”

Larry O’Loughlin, Executive Director of the Conservation Council of the ACT, said, “The ACT last week set a new zero net emissions target by 2045. We are the first Australian state or territory to upgrade its target from 2050 with tri-partisan support. Contrast this with Federal Government policy paralysis on climate change. Plaudits go to the ACT Legislative Assembly. Congratulations to the Canberra Liberals for helping take the politics out of action on climate change.”

“The ACT community has already argued for improved equity in our local climate reduction efforts through the ACT Energy Consumers Policy Consortium in a submission to the ACT’s Climate Strategy to a Net Zero Emissions Territory Discussion Paper. Last year we urged the ACT Government to include in its Climate Strategy supports for consumers who are low income, disadvantaged and/or unable to fund adaptation to new appliances, and to ensure there is no negative impact on these consumers in the transition to a zero-emission future.

“The study by Frontier Economics provides evidence that the ACT and Australia can reduce retail energy prices while improving energy efficiency and addressing climate change”, Ms Helyar concluded.

Supported by the ACT Energy Consumers Policy Consortium including Care Financial Counselling Service, Conservation Council ACT Region, SEE-Change, representation from the Small Business Taskforce of the Canberra Business Chamber and the ACT Council of Social Service.

For more information or comment please contact
Susan Helyar, Director, on 0448 791 987 or 02 6202 7200.