29 ideas posted
10 comments 8 votes 16 users
In this community, you can submit ideas, vote on existing ideas, or add comments.
To submit an idea, please click the Submit New Idea button at the top of the navigation sidebar. You will then be asked to add a title and choose a campaign for the new idea. You will also have the option to add tags to the idea. To vote on an idea, simply click the up or down arrows to the right of the idea title/description. And to add a comment, click in the box below the idea.
If you would like to see all ideas created with a specific tag, you can click on the word or phrase via the tagcloud in the navigation sidebar area under "What we're discussing". You can also view ideas sorted by Campaigns from the right navigation area. To return to this page, click the All Ideas link.
"The German Best Available Technology legislation does not involve mandating specific technologies...Rather, the German government upwardly adjusts standards that industry has to meet based on the performances of the best and most cost effective available technologies.In theory, whenever a new and improved technology is created globally, German industry is expected to meet the environmental standard achieved by that technology. ...more »
"The German Best Available Technology legislation does not involve mandating specific technologies...Rather, the German government upwardly adjusts standards that industry has to meet based on the performances of the best and most cost effective available technologies.In theory, whenever a new and improved technology is created globally, German industry is expected to meet the environmental standard achieved by that technology. This regulation is sufficient to provide significant incentive for German firms to develop new technologies that make it cheaper for them to meet the competition from the best available technologies globally."
---this is a stub--- The EU recently released guidelines on 'Public Procurement for a Better Environment'. In the introduction to the new guidelines the Commission noted: 'Each year European public authorities spend the equivalent of 16% of the EU Gross Domestic Product on the purchase of goods, such as office equipment, building components and transport vehicles; services, such as buildings maintenance, transport services, ...more »
---this is a stub---
The EU recently released guidelines on 'Public Procurement for a Better Environment'. In the introduction to the new guidelines the Commission noted:
'Each year European public authorities spend the equivalent of 16% of the EU Gross Domestic Product on the purchase of goods, such as office equipment, building components and transport vehicles; services, such as buildings maintenance, transport services, cleaning and catering services and works. Public procurement can shape production and consumption trends and a significant demand from public authorities for "greener" goods will create or enlarge markets for environmentally friendly products and services. By doing so, it will also provide incentives for companies to develop environmental technologies.'
 to do: look up Australian figures on this
“Our natural heritage – including forests, fisheries, food, minerals and water - must be separated and protected from the entire trade liberalisation agenda. There should be no question, for example, of sensitive environmental sectors such as forests and fisheries being included in the WTO’s non- agricultural market access (NAMA) negotiations. Neither should energy and water services be included in its services agenda.” ...more »
“Our natural heritage – including forests, fisheries, food, minerals and water - must be separated and protected from the entire trade liberalisation agenda. There should be no question, for example, of sensitive environmental sectors such as forests and fisheries being included in the WTO’s non- agricultural market access (NAMA) negotiations. Neither should energy and water services be included in its services agenda.” (Friends of the Earth, 2005, p. 35)
What is the problem?
Free Trade Agreements often remove the ability of less powerful countries to use tariffs or subsidies to protect domestic agriculture, while leaving the open or hidden agricultural subsidies of more powerful countries intact. This can stop the less powerful country from taking action to ensure fair and sustainable livelihoods for its agricultural workers.
What is the idea?
Establish community and local partnerships to protect sustainable agriculture from Free Trade Agreements and to foster the development of alternative agro-ecological production.
Where has it been tried?
Who recommends it?
Friends of The Earth
How has it been done?
• Communities, farmers, indigenous peoples and organisations are establishing partnerships - such as the Agrovida Association in the García Rovira region.
• This helps to promote organic production and local regional markets, ensure fair prices, and protect traditional seed varieties.
• These local markets create new relationships between urban and rural people, improve their quality of life and restore a degree of autonomy and sustainability to communities.
• Ultimately, they will form the Foundation of Food Sovereignty in Colombia. 'Food Sovereignty' primarily indicates the protection of locally produced or nationally produced food and resources, avoiding the influence of special interests from external bodies and corporate lobbyists for their clients provisions. Here is a link for more information on the Columbian local partnerships: http://www.foe.org.au/resources/publications/trade-and-globalisation/tyranny.pdf
Where can it be implemented?
The decreasing amount of locally owned farm industries is the result of the harsh effects of climate change, which has caused vast areas of farmland to be inadequate for harvesting and resulted in a significant amount of livestock to wither. Consequently, small farming industries have succumbed to being bought out by larger organisations, in the process of amalgamating smaller farms to establish larger industries. This has lead to increased unemployment in rural areas, and increased prices on the cost of agricultural goods. The influx of farmers and their families from abandoned farmlands, applies immense pressure on goods, services and employment opportunities in regional districts. Therefore, the local partnerships idea could potentially be a solution to the dire circumstances of rural areas in Australia. Community programs, local organisations, and NGOs can formulate bonds with local banks, and existing local industries to re-establish a community based trading system, that cannot be influenced or dominated by corporate interests.
It is well documented that Gross Domestic Product, as a measure of societal wellbeing, is inefficient at examining societal welfare at the individual level. Unpaid time inputs and their associated outputs (including domestic labour) are unaccounted for, as are the costs to the natural economy of polluting industry, or the social costs of damaged familial and community relationships due to increased working hours. As ...more »
It is well documented that Gross Domestic Product, as a measure of societal wellbeing, is inefficient at examining societal welfare at the individual level. Unpaid time inputs and their associated outputs (including domestic labour) are unaccounted for, as are the costs to the natural economy of polluting industry, or the social costs of damaged familial and community relationships due to increased working hours. As an indicator, GDP is quantitative by nature – a market-based figure without social references. The pursuit of growth at any cost has led to a situation where we are living beyond our financial and environmental means. Because currently policy is informed by the definition of societal improvement as economic growth, a paradigm shift is needed to ensure that future policy initiatives are developed and measured with increased national wellbeing as a key outcome.
A qualitative National Account of Wellbeing, taking into account personal wellbeing (emotional wellbeing, vitality, self-esteem, autonomy and positive functioning) social wellbeing (trust and belonging), and wellbeing at work can provide important feedback on the effects of public policy, as well as macro and micro level experiential data that can identify areas of need and shape future policy formation. National Accounts of Wellbeing allow governments to analyse new policy proposals without engaging in a narrow cost/benefit analysis, focusing instead on a wider range of impacts on personal and social wellbeing. By focusing on wellbeing, governments are also afforded the opportunity to analyse the experiential impacts of enacted laws and policy at a national, regional, or micro level, and explore variations between population subgroups.
At present, the Australian Treasury has developed a wellbeing framework, which operates as a descriptive tool in order to support analysis and provide a framework for understanding the social impact of government policy. By commissioning the Australian Bureau of Statistics to measure wellbeing, the Australian Government would be provided with data that not only enabled them to more efficiently assess the effectiveness of policy, but a means of analysing the need for policy action across the nation or at the local level.
By adopting National Accounts of Wellbeing, governments must necessarily integrate them into the policy-making process. As a policy tool, National Accounts of Wellbeing are dynamic: they increase governmental understanding of the population and their needs, inform policy development, shape the way that policy is delivered, and assist in the evaluation of implemented policy. By tasking national statistical offices to measure wellbeing, and creating a network comprised of statisticians and analysts to collect and dissect the data, the Australian Government could measure and act on wellbeing as part of a broader context of social and environmental sustainability.
Michaelson, J, Abdullah, S, Steuer, N, Thompson, S & Marks, N. (2009) National Accounts of Wellbeing: Bringing Real Wealth onto the Balance Sheet. New Economics Foundation: London.
Canadian Index of Wellbeing - http://www.atkinsonfoundation.ca/ciw
Where it's been tried: The Netherlands How it works: "Government expenditure under the conditions of the MIA scheme, that was introduced in mid-2000, increased from EUR 30 million in 2000 to a budgetted amount of EUR 39 million in 2001. The total amount of investment covered by the scheme was approximately EUR 635 million in 2001. The MIA came into effect in July 2000...entrepreneurs liable to tax can use the MIA to ...more »
Where it's been tried: The Netherlands
How it works: "Government expenditure under the conditions of the MIA scheme, that was introduced in mid-2000, increased from EUR 30 million in 2000 to a budgetted amount of EUR 39 million in 2001. The total amount of investment covered by the scheme was approximately EUR 635 million in 2001.
The MIA came into effect in July 2000...entrepreneurs liable to tax can use the MIA to reduce their taxable income if they make investments in environmentally-friendly capital assets. The MIA is used to encourage environmental investments in the broad sense. Capital assets that qualify for this scheme are placed on a list that is updated annually."
Further reading: http://www.springerlink.com/content/m60t26537l921581/
What is it? An important policy innovation to reduce electricity consumption and increase energy efficiency is decoupling utilities. This happens when the financial incentives facing utilities are changed and utilities’ profits are no longer tied to the volume it sells and profits are tied to the reduction of consumers’ electricity usage (Hirschland et al 2008). Who proposes it? The Rocky Mountains Institute How does ...more »
What is it?
An important policy innovation to reduce electricity consumption and increase energy efficiency is decoupling utilities. This happens when the financial incentives facing utilities are changed and utilities’ profits are no longer tied to the volume it sells and profits are tied to the reduction of consumers’ electricity usage (Hirschland et al 2008).
Who proposes it?
The Rocky Mountains Institute
How does it work?
At present, there is no incentive for energy utilities to encourage consumers to use less electricity. In contrast, it is in the direct interest of energy utilities to maintain their consumers’ electricity consumption. In order for energy utilities to encourage consumers to encourage an overall reduction in electricity consumption the incentives facing utilities have to change.
Decoupling works like this: At the beginning of a financial year a utility’s commission sets a target rate of return on the utility’s capital. During the financial year, if the utility sells less energy than expected, due to conservation and energy efficiency, then the cost of electricity increases to meet the revenue target. If the utility sells more energy due poor efficiency programs then the cost of electricity falls and profits diminish (Sweitzer 2009).
Decoupling profits from sales volume changes the incentives facing utilities and aligns the interest of consumers and utilities in reducing electricity consumption. By increasing the cost of electricity whilst increasing energy efficiency utilities can increase profits. If utilities’ profits increase with greater energy efficiency, then it makes sense for utilities to assist households and businesses to conserve energy. For example, this can be done by the financing of home insulation and the installation of smart meters. If these measures reduce electricity consumption by 30% then utilities can increase rates by 15% while still saving the customer substantially on their electricity bill (Romm 2007). What may further spur utilities to invest in energy efficiency programs is understanding that improved energy efficiency will be cheaper than investing in increased energy generation. That is, building a new power station or maintaining old ones which require huge capital expenditure will be more expensive than encouraging energy efficiency (Romm 2007). As a result of decoupling utilities they can become the drivers of energy efficiency measures.
Where has it been tried?
Decoupling utilities has been successfully tried in California where utilities have implemented aggressive energy efficiency programs (Kushler and Witte 2006). Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that these utilities have found that decoupling have assisted them increasing profitability (Lovins 1993).
Hirschland, M., Oppenheim, J. and A. Webb, (2008), Using Energy More Efficiently: An Interview with the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Amory Lovins, The McKinsey Quarterly
Kushler, M. and P. Witte, (2006), Aligning Utility Interests with Energy Efficiency Objectives: A Review of Recent Efforts at Decoupling and Performance Incentives, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Report No U061
Lovins, A and A. Gadgil, (1993), The Negawatt Revolution: Electric Efficiency and Asian Development, Rocky Mountains Insitute, Retrieved from: http://www.eco-web.com/edi/index.htm
Romm, J., (2007), Regulatory Reform of Utilities Could Lessen the Need for New Power Plants, Retrieved from: http://www.grist.org/article/bill-clinton-explains-utility-decoupling
Sightline Institute, (2009), Decoupling: Turbocharging Efficiency Programs, Retrieved from: http://www.sightline.org/research/energy/res_pubs/Decoupling-Primer-in-Template.pdf
Sweitzer, K. (2009), Closing the Efficiency Gap (CEG): America’s Untapped Opportunitiy, Rocky Mountains Institute, Retrieved from: http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid597.php
In Australia ‘No review of the tax treatment of cars and car-related benefits has been undertaken- despite recommendation from commonwealth inquiries and observation in 2008 by the National Transport Commission’s that ‘some taxes and subsidies create incentives that increase car use’’ and have a detrimental effect on the environment as a result. (The Community Tax Forum- Symposium- 19 & 20 May 2009) What the tax is? ...more »
In Australia ‘No review of the tax treatment of cars and car-related benefits has been undertaken- despite recommendation from commonwealth inquiries and observation in 2008 by the National Transport Commission’s that ‘some taxes and subsidies create incentives that increase car use’’ and have a detrimental effect on the environment as a result. (The Community Tax Forum- Symposium- 19 & 20 May 2009)
What the tax is?
The Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) is a benefit provided in respect of your employment. These benefits include rights, privileges or services such as transport. Lending transport to an employee whilst he/she works at the company, and the kilometres the car has done is then taxable via the statutory formula method or the operating cost method.
Who recommends changing it?
La Trobe University and RMIT Submissions to AFT discuss Australia’s current FBT regime as promoting unnecessary mileage as those under the scheme are abusing it in order to gain greater tax concessions. The Submission ‘calls to amend the current FBT legislation and therefore foster more environmentally sustainable car salary packaging policies for Australian business’.
Research conducted by Diane Kraal, P.W. Senarath Yapa and Dianne Harvey shows an analysis into those employed for a company using the FBT, this included how far they live from their work, their location, the average number of salary packaged cars per location, cars with unnecessary mileage, percentage that drive to get tax concessions and percentage that do not.
The results showed that employees are driving further for the sake of a tax cut they are having greater effects on annual greenhouse emissions for the average car, research indicates that ‘car holders subject to the rules of FBT lend their cars to neighbours and friends ‘to get kilometres up’, this therefore having a negative effect on producing more greenhouse gas emissions.
1999 Ralph Review of Business Tax recommended major structural reforms, including the transfer of tax liability for fringe benefits to employees; non deductibility of business entertainment expenses; on premises car parking and valuation of car benefit were presented as pivotal to reform FBT.
Reforms to this policy suggest the potential to improve both environmental outcomes and the efficiency of tax.
The Bus Industry Confederation recommends that 'The benefits of amending FBT arrangements include those of efficiency, visibility, equity, and simplicity (NSW Ministry of Transport 2006).'
Greenpeace support the amendement of FBT.
How it works:
The Submission recommends, ‘The use of ‘statutory rates’ for cars be reformed by removing the tax concession at the 15,000 kilometre band and using the 26 per cent rate, or using just one statutory rate, possibly the 20 per cent rate’, concerns for the manner in which the tax is implemented, timing issues associated with collection of the tax and particularly the negative environmental affects arising from the statutory formula method for cars.
In an excerpt to the submission Kenneth Davidson emphasises ‘the need to reduce car use rather than encourage it’ he also recommended the ‘elimination of the Fringe Benefits Tax for motor vehicles that subsidises 40 per cent of peak-hour car travel’.
‘The easy method to facilitate the curbing of excessive greenhouse gas emissions and fostering petrol savings is that the use of the log book be extended.
Where FBT has been abolished:
India: Under the 2009-2010 budget fringe benefit tax has been abolished and is now added to personal finances shifting from the employer to the employee requiring employees to pay the marginal tax rate.
• Davidson. K, “Our Petrol Problems are about Peak Oil, not Snake Oil,” The Age, June 14, 2007
• Birnbauer, W, “Congestion: there could be a price to pay,” The Age, February 11, 2007.
• “Submission to the Emissions Trading Task Group”, Business Council of
Australia, March 2007.
• ‘Environmental Taxation and Its Possible Application in Australia’ John Freebairn, University of Melbourne, Prepared for the Treasury, Canberra, May 2009.
What is it? The proponents of the Carbon Tax Scheme intend to tax carbon dioxide polluters according to the social costs of carbon dioxide emissions. By taxing carbon dioxide emissions according to the cost of their externalities, mainly their contribution to global warming, the Carbon Tax Scheme aims to internalize the externalities of emissions into the price of products and services. This will make goods and services ...more »
What is it?
The proponents of the Carbon Tax Scheme intend to tax carbon dioxide polluters according to the social costs of carbon dioxide emissions. By taxing carbon dioxide emissions according to the cost of their externalities, mainly their contribution to global warming, the Carbon Tax Scheme aims to internalize the externalities of emissions into the price of products and services. This will make goods and services that depend on carbon dioxide emissions more expensive compared to those whose production methods are more environmentally friendly. As a result, a Carbon Tax Scheme will encourage a transition towards a low carbon economy.
Who Proposes it?
Friends of the Earth and John Freebairn at the University of Melbourne
How Does it Work?
Presently market failures characterize the generation of energy in our economy. The energy that fuels the economy production and transport is the cheapest but also the most damaging to the environment. This constitutes a market failure because this fuel enjoys a competitive advantage as the social costs, damage to the atmosphere, of its use are not included in the market price. The carbon tax intends to incorporate this social cost, which is inaccurately priced in the market place into the true, social cost of a product. By ensuring, through a carbon tax, that goods and services are priced according to the social cost of its production consumers can make choices based on more complete information. By increasing the cost of goods and services that are dependent on carbon dioxide emissions for its production and delivery, goods and services that are less dependent on carbon dioxide emissions will become more competitive in the market place. Consequently, this will benefit goods that are produced in an environmentally efficient manner, encourage a transition from carbon dioxide dependency, reduce pollution in general and carbon dioxide emissions in particular and, by reducing income tax, potentially increase disposable income.
How should the tax rate be set?
The rate at which carbon dioxide emissions is taxed has not been determined yet. There are several ways in which this rate can be set. The most efficient way to tax carbon dioxide emissions would be to set the tax rate at its social cost. However, there are indications that suggest that this rate would be too high and affect the economy disastrously in the short term. Another approach, which would be less detrimental to the economy as a whole would be to phase in a tax rate that would eventually reflect the true cost of carbon dioxide emissions over a period of time. This would allow fossil fuel users to adjust their production methods without negatively affecting employment.
Where has it been tried?
In 1991, the Swedish government introduced an industry specific revenue neutral carbon tax. This increased the cost of carbon dioxide emissions and encouraged a transition to more environmentally friendly production methods. The industry received tax credits to compensate for the increased tax rates. As a result of the carbon tax, more environmentally friendly production methods were adopted while maintaining the same level of economic activity and employment.
Freebairn, J., (2009) ‘Environmental Taxation and Its Possible Application in Australia’, University of Melbourne
Friends of the Earth, (1998) ‘Citizens Guide to Environmental Tax Shifting’
If you want to choose a renovation project that will benefit you now and later, you might look deeper than the surface of your home. Homeowners more frequently think of the rooms they could add, the square footage they could utilize, the modern appliances they could purchase. However, things like updated plumbing, electricity, and insulation could also be beneficial, though their uses will be less tangible. Replacing ...more »
If you want to choose a renovation project that will benefit you now and later, you might look deeper than the surface of your home. Homeowners more frequently think of the rooms they could add, the square footage they could utilize, the modern appliances they could purchase. However, things like updated plumbing, electricity, and insulation could also be beneficial, though their uses will be less tangible.
Replacing old insulation or installing some where there was none before can be a highly cost and energy efficient decision. As energy prices go up with the cost of gas and oil, homeowners are continually shelling more money out each month for utilities. That’s where insulation comes in. It doesn’t matter whether your climate is hot or cold, arid or humid, insulation will come in handy as it keeps you cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter.
Insulation is more than just the padding in your walls. It’s also your windows, doors, vents, and weather stripping. The U.S. Department of Energy has reported, “Tradition windows contribute as much as 1- percent of the total air escaping from a typical home, while improperly sealed doors can contribute 11 percent.”
Don’t just leave insulation decisions up to your contractor. He may not be versed in the highest quality or most efficient varieties on the market. Do your research online, visit home improvement stores, talk to experts to find out what the best insulation for your budget might be. For instance, spray foam insulation is a modern insulation solution.
The Green Living section of the Milwaukee, WI Journal Sentinel reported, Spray foam insulation combats against air leakage and works well in all type of homes across the country, regardless of the climate.” They also said, “Spray foam insulation both air seals and insulates to keep allergens and irritants at bay and eliminates air leakage to keep the conditioned air inside without the HVAC system working overtime to compensate.”
Another benefit of spray foam is that it lasts as long as the home does without needing replaced or repaired, unless the actual home structure is compromised. Experts in the field report significant reduction to utility bills, as much as 50 percent when a home goes from absolutely no insulation to complete coverage by spray foam.
Interior Decorating and Remodeling News Brought to You by BaseBoardRadiatorCover.com
What is it? Feed-in tariffs (FIT) are used to create a price mechanism to support the development of and demand for alternative sources of energy and encourage a transition towards renewable methods of energy generation. Electricity utilities are obligated to buy renewable electricity at above-market rates set by the government. An FIT should have a two pronged approach setting the price for renewable ...more »
What is it?
Feed-in tariffs (FIT) are used to create a price mechanism to support the development of and demand for alternative sources of energy and encourage a transition towards renewable methods of energy generation. Electricity utilities are obligated to buy renewable electricity at above-market rates set by the government. An FIT should have a two pronged approach setting the price for renewable energy higher than the market price for energy and mandating energy utilities to purchase energy from renewable energy providers.
Who advocates it?
Greenpeace Australia and Australian Conservation Foundation
How do they work?
A feed-in tariff scheme mandates energy utilities to buy energy from renewable energy providers at an above market price. With a national FIT the price that producers receive for solar energy will be dramatically higher than the market price. This is an incentive for potential investors and producers to enter the market and generate renewable energy. The increased cost of energy consumption for consumers will be spread across all consumers and spending on energy consumption can be expected to increase marginally.
To maximize the effectiveness of a FIT scheme it is important that the above-market price is guaranteed in the long-term. This ensures that there will be a return on investment from the production of renewable power within a few years. With a return on investment in the renewable energy sector ensured then market sources may be mobilized to meet the increased demand for solar panel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Feed-in tariffs will not only assist large scale production of renewable energy but it will also encourage households to install solar panels and other renewable energy generators and transfer electricity into the grid. With above market prices for renewable energy the investment into renewable energy generation will soon be paid off and households will be able to earn money by producing renewable energy.
Two kinds of tarrifs: Gross FITs and Net FITs:
Some Australian states have experimented with the use of FIT. Unfortunately, these FITs have proved ineffective because they have paid only for the net production of renewable energy (the energy that is transferred to the grid) and not the gross production (total energy produced) of renewable of energy. To tilt the market in the favour of renewable energy and give them a sustained long term competitive advantage it is necessary that the FITs are set at a gross level. This means that renewable energy generation is truly encouraged and rewarded (Greenpeace 2009).
A feed-in tariff of this kind increases the competitiveness of alternative sources of energy, welcomes producers of renewable energy into the market place and drastically reduces carbon dioxide emissions.
Where have feed-in tariffs been tried?
Germany has successfully used feed-in tariffs to foster a renewable energy industry and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The FIT scheme that Germany adopted, and which Australia arguably should copy, mandated energy utilities to purchase renewable energy at an above market price. This provided investors with certainty that the installation of renewable energy generators would generate a profit within a few years. As a consequence of Germany’s FIT scheme, in just ten years Germany’s solar energy production increased from 5% to 15% of total energy consumption at only a small cost to consumers (Martin 2009). Consequently, there has been a rush towards renewable energy, generating jobs while protecting the environment.
Access Economics. (2008) “The Economics of Feed-In Tariffs for solar PV in Australia”
Greenpeace Australia Pacific (2008) “Briefing: Will Australians be starved of renewable energy feed-in tariff?” Retrieved from:
Kennedy, D., (2007), “A 2020 vision of a feed in tariff for Australia”
Martin, D (2009) “Feed-in Tariffs Have Earned a Role in US Energy Policy”
Norman, J and S O’Connor, (2009) “Embrace the Renewable Energy Future” retrieved from: http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/resources/reports/climate-change/briefing-will-australians-be
Langer, T. 2005, Vehicle Effeciency Incentives: An Update on Feebates for States What is it: A sliding scale of fees and rebates for the purchase of new vehicles based on fuel consumption or emissions of greenhouse gases. The simplest structure sets the fee or rebate in proportion to the amount of fuel consumed by the vehicle per mile driven. How it works: Feebates shift the market towards green vehicles by providing ...more »
Langer, T. 2005, Vehicle Effeciency Incentives: An Update on Feebates for States
What is it: A sliding scale of fees and rebates for the purchase of new vehicles based on fuel consumption or emissions of greenhouse gases. The simplest structure sets the fee or rebate in proportion to the amount of fuel consumed by the vehicle per mile driven.
How it works: Feebates shift the market towards green vehicles by providing incentive for manufactures to adopt cost-effective efficiency technologies. It mitigates the market failure arising from consumer undervaluation of fuel savings associated with efficient vehicles, and raises consumer awareness of the relationship between fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. Using market-based mechanisms and regulatory approaches each have advantages in reducing vehicles environmental impacts- combining the two is potentially the best approach to reducing vehicle emissions/fuel consumption.
Findings of this report: The lack of real-world experience makes forecasting response to a vehicle feebate speculative, various models have been run to gain insights on the matter with the following results:
1. The effect of a national feebate could result in 20% reduction in vehicles emissions and fuel consumption using technologies available today.
2. The dominant response as a result of feebates would be on the part of manufacturers who would put more efficiency technologies into their new products.
3. Consumer response in buying preferences would be limited.
4. Manufacturer response would be smaller for a state feebate than for a national one, but consumer response may be stronger at a state level than national one (in the U.S.).
Feebates vs. other Mechanisms to Promote Green Vehicles: Increasing the gasoline tax is an obvious feebate competitor when the objective is reducing petroleum consumption. Advantage of feebate is that they transfer the fuel economy savings achieved by an efficient vehicle over its lifetime to the time of purchase. Feebates are also typically designed to be revenue neutral, potentially an advantage over a tax increase.
Regulatory measures can provide certaintiy of attaining a specific level of progress but no guarantee of cost of achieving their ends. Feebates have the additional advantage of creating incentives for continuing improvement. Feebates also draw the attention of the consumer directly to the problem of high energy consumption, while standards are not visible to the consumer.
Some recommendations for designing a feebate:
1. Keep the program simple- the simplest approach is to set the fee or rebate in proportion to the amount of fuel consumed by the vehicle per mile driven.
2. Provide good data collection and documentation
3. Cover all cars and light trucks under the program to maximize consumer attention and ensure strong educational value for the public
4. Prospects for feebates might be improved by the choice of a more appealing name eg. ‘clean car incentive’.
Where it has been tried: European countries have imposed fees based on energy consumption. Austria has a sliding scale for a portion up to 16% of its new vehicle tax that is tied to fuel consumption. In addition, several EU countries have sales or registration taxes based on engine size. It has also been proposed or introduced in a number of ways at a state level in the U.S, however many feebate bills have failed to pass.
What it is: Accelerated depreciation, refers to the capacity for selected industries to claim bigger tax deductions for the cost of their investments in new equipment in the early years of a project. This increases the after-tax profit earned by investors and, in turn, the likelihood of such investments taking place. In Australia today, mining and the airlines (both high emissions industries) are the ...more »
What it is: Accelerated depreciation, refers to the capacity for selected industries to claim bigger tax deductions for the cost of their investments in new equipment in the early years of a project. This increases the after-tax profit earned by investors and, in turn, the likelihood of such investments taking place.
In Australia today, mining and the airlines (both high emissions industries) are the industries receiving the most generous accelerated depreciation provisions while renewable energy industry is excluded from such concessions.
The money currently spent subsidising new investment in mining and airlines could be transferred into accelerated depreciation provisions for the renewable energy industry reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building a strong economy based around renewables.
How it works: When there is a societal goal of increasing investment in renewable energy, there is a strong case for introducing accelerated depreciation for renewable energy assets to reduce the incentive for firms to delay investing in such equipment in the hope it will be cheaper in the future. This is particularly the case when there is potential for increased sales in the short term to actually drive the cost reductions in the medium term.
Policy makers need to recognise that investors in renewable energy will be facing quite steep and unpredictable changes in the value of their assets—changes that are much larger than the expected physical life of their assets would imply. The introduction of accelerated depreciation provisions would both recognise this problem and help encourage increased investment in renewable energy sources.
Where it's been tried: Germany. And much of the rest of Europe, including Eastern Europe, have now followed Germany’s lead. What is it: Regulation in the form of feebates (a combination of fees and rebates). Feebates, very simply, combine both a fee on the most environmentally harmful brands of a certain product, whilst providing income to governments, allowing them to provide a rebate to encourage consumers to purchase ...more »
Where it's been tried: Germany. And much of the rest of Europe, including Eastern Europe, have now followed Germany’s lead.
What is it: Regulation in the form of feebates (a combination of fees and rebates). Feebates, very simply, combine both a fee on the most environmentally harmful brands of a certain product, whilst providing income to governments, allowing them to provide a rebate to encourage consumers to purchase the most environmentally benign products.
How it works: Operationally feebates are very simple. Take the example of the car. If you bought a new car, you would pay an extra fee if it were an inefficient user of fuel, or alternatively get a rebate if it were energy-efficient. The neutral point would be set so that fees and rebates balanced, so it becomes neither an inflationary measure nor a tax increase.
Advantages: The key benefit of feebates is that they would ensure that industry knows that there will be clear market signals to the consumer to purchase more efficient products, thereby stimulating innovation in the right direction for sustainability. But government would still need to work with industry to phase in feebates to ensure industry has time to respond. To reduce administrative costs, feebates can be targeted at those consumer products that have the largest ongoing environmental impacts, such as cars and, within the home, refrigerators and washing machines.
Why: helps drive better environmental outcomes whilst making German industry more competitive.
See also: http://www.ecosmagazine.com/?paper=EC121p24">http://www.ecosmagazine.com/?paper=EC121p24
Seeing as we should get closer to working out categories before inviting more people on board, here's some I think are missing: * Agriculture * Infrastructure * Greening buildings Some more things for consideration... And what about things like setting national targets??? Where does that go as it is a key policy framework for all the other policies shifting to renewables and reducing greenhouse gases. It might also ...more »
Seeing as we should get closer to working out categories before inviting more people on board, here's some I think are missing:
* Greening buildings
Some more things for consideration...
And what about things like setting national targets??? Where does that go as it is a key policy framework for all the other policies shifting to renewables and reducing greenhouse gases.
It might also be helpful to have an alternative categorisation, similar to the one used by Mark Diesendorf... along areas such as "Research & innovation"; "Greening buildings"...
What about policies that rollback or terminate subsidies to the non-rennewable energy sector? Or what about checking that any policies shifting to renewable energy is socially just??
Easier access to Clean-Tech Trade “There is very little debate on the need for a new green-energy economy…It is the basis of the future economic prosperity in the global world. There is no disagreement” (Stavros Dimas, China Daily, 2009). What is the Problem? The Global South bear the brunt of greenhouse gas emissions that are largely produced by the Global North and are often forced to yield ground on development. ...more »
Easier access to Clean-Tech Trade
“There is very little debate on the need for a new green-energy economy…It is the basis of the future economic prosperity in the global world. There is no disagreement” (Stavros Dimas, China Daily, 2009).
What is the Problem?
The Global South bear the brunt of greenhouse gas emissions that are largely produced by the Global North and are often forced to yield ground on development. Some leading Global South nations are facing costs of around 100 billion euros a year by 2020 - which is demonstrated by China, as the government has been elbowed into a more costly but environmentally-friendly pathway that the country has had to rely on new energy and ecology-savvy technology (www.chinaview.cn). China has been consistently promoting sustainable development despite numerous difficulties and is calling for technology used to reduce carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Yet slow and slim technology transfer remains one of the biggest hurdles for their environmentally sound pathways.
What’s the idea?
Reducing harsh tariff barriers on clean technology will allow newly industrialising countries to implement sustainable and climate friendly technologies at a lower cost, which will help to prevent growing emission rates, and assist the developing economies of Newly Industrialising Countries (NICs) “It is imperative to ease transfer of technology between nations to save the world from the looming climate crisis that knows no borders” (China Daily, 22/09/2009, para, 1).
Who supports it?
How it works?
➢ Initially, it is essential that the price of fossil fuels be increased to allow for the environmental and health damage that they cause. This could be done through obvious means of either a carbon tax or levy, or by emission permits with cap and trade. This will create a domino effect and shift the global demand towards clean technologies.
➢ China and other developing nations could use the flexibilities of the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) such as limiting patentability and compulsory licensing. Certain technologies, especially those deemed necessary to tackle climate change, could be excluded from patent grants. However the fight against global warming would gain most if nations hammer out amendments to TRIPS and other IPR pacts that could waive or reduce technology transfer costs in the climate change context just as in public health sector.
➢ It’s a simple concept really: Stimulating business development in the clean tech sector, stimulates economic growth that will help reinvigorate the destabilised countries due to the economic crisis, help stimulate NICs, create thousands of new jobs and help the environment.
➢ On a small scale the revenue raised through increased taxes on carbon emissions, could be returned to the community in the form of funding to assist the creation of the new cleaner energy industries. With enhanced energy efficiency, there is no need for energy bills to rise.
Where has it been tried?
The EU uses its trade policy to support measures that cut greenhouse gas emissions. Under the terms of the EU's ‘Generalised System of Preferences’ developing countries that have ratified and implemented global environmental agreements can receive special tariff rate cuts when they export to the EU. As part of the Doha WTO trade negotiations, the EU has pushed for more open trade in environmental goods and services such as renewable energy products, wastewater management and energy efficient construction services to encourage the spread of these new technologies around the world. This would strengthen the freedom of choice of developing countries to choose the specifics of their development strategies according to their own needs and priorities, as required by the goal of sustainable development.
According to EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, consuming more time by waiting to implement sustainable policies will be more costly. He announced that the 15 billion euros (US$22.1 billion) assistance for poor countries to battle climate change, "will only get higher if we delay” (China Daily, 2009), which verifies that action is needed to be taken now and through trade agreements with NICs the lowering of tariffs on environmentally efficient technologies will facilitate a movement towards a new global market focusing on renewals and clean technologies.
Can it be implemented in Australia?
The recent bilateral agreement between Australia and Thailand could be a potential platform to implement this clean-tech strategy. Many Asian countries are pursuing bilateral trade and economic agreements. It is hoped by developing countries that bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) can provide benefits such as preferential terms for exports for their products, an improved investment climate for foreign investment, and easier access of environmentally sustainable technologies.
A recent finding in relation to clean-tech trade shows that this new wave of interaction between developed and developing nations is taking hold, exemplified through the development of the trilateral Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) which was launched in 2005. The SPP involves the United States, Mexico, and Canada and through this body, the three participating countries have formed a North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) to provide recommendations on developing competitive industries in the region. Their goal is to cooperate on clean-energy technologies, energy conservation, and market facilitation to build greater energy security and sustainable development in the region. This validates a newly recognised global awareness of the need for economic reform through sustainable means (Migration Policy Institute, 2009) - (Sources: Department of Homeland Security; the White House, "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America Prosperity Agenda")
What's the idea? A new road pricing system which allows tax benefits to drivers who drive outside peak periods. Who recommends it? The Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) recommends that the government further encourage through tax credits, for people to catch public transport instead of driving their car to work. The reason for this recommendation stems from their recent research which indicates that ‘road transport ...more »
What's the idea?
A new road pricing system which allows tax benefits to drivers who drive outside peak periods.
Who recommends it?
The Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) recommends that the government further encourage through tax credits, for people to catch public transport instead of driving their car to work. The reason for this recommendation stems from their recent research which indicates that ‘road transport accounts for almost 90% of the transport sectors emission’ within Australia.
BIC’s research indicates that if the use of the public transport system within Australia was both improved and further encouraged that this would ‘show savings on urban congestion of $1.5 billion and on the environment of $160 million’.
BIC recommends the implementation of a stronger transport system before we consider congestion tax; however they do recommend a form of congestion tax if necessary for the future.
How it works?
The proposal of the new pricing system is:
• A charge on fuel to cover carbon costs.
• A charge on fuel to cover the costs of road construction and maintenance attributable to lighter vehicles.
• Tonne kilometer charges for additional road damage attributable to heavy vehicles.
• Differential vehicle registration charges to levy the more polluting vehicles for their health costs (air pollution).
• A GPS based congestion pricing scheme to make users accountable for the congestion costs attributable to their road use, by time and location. At peak hours in the capital cities, this charge would frequently be as high as $1/km and higher on occasions.
Where something similar has been tried?
Canada: Implemented a tax credit to commuters purchasing a ticket of five days or longer duration, encouraging people through a tax credit to catch public transport to work instead of driving.
London: Implemented a congestion charge scheme, which charges vehicles for using the city on different days of the week and at different times depending on peak periods. The charge is 8 pounds per day. ‘The London scheme involves a charge to enter central London during weekdays between 7am and 6.30pm and a fine for non-payment of the charge. This is enforced within the city by the use of CCTV cameras with license plate recognition technology’.
Whilst London has reported that the congestion within the city has declined, they have reported recently that unfortunately due to the governments ‘western extension’ has caused congestion to return to levels experienced before the charge was introduced.
There has also been a 6% increase in bus passengers during charging hours, as well as a 12% increase in cycle journeys into the Western extension.
Where they have thought about introducing it?
Australia: Is our public transport system good enough to introduce a congestion tax within the city? The only aspect of a charge we really have is a time of day tolling; where motorists pay $1 more between peak hour periods. This doesn’t seem to be having a dramatic effect on congestion issues. We are encouraged by bus companies to purchase the weekly discounted tickets and when we do the bus is too full to get on at peak hour or the bus doesnt come at all.
As our country is largely affected by urban sprawl our infrastructure to population ratio is quite large compared too many countries in Europe, and therefore our transport system is quite hard to compare to those abroad where population to infrastructure ratio is very small compared to the huge populations. Effective Infrastructure is crucial in sustaining high economic growth, without it problems will only increase to emerge such as congestion.
‘The NRMA poll of commuters from Sydney's north and north-west has found only one in 20 travel into the city outside peak times because of the higher toll.’ (ABC March 2009). Sydney commuters are using other surrounding roads such as Victoria Rd instead, which defeats the purpose of this exercise.
It needs to be changed!
Bus Industry Confederation Submission to the Review of Australia's Future Tax System
What is it? Government backed financial instruments which aim to channel funds to renewable energy producers to create a more competitive renewable energy sector and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Who proposes it? Green Bonds Canada an Action Canada initiative How does it work? Green Bonds issued by private fund managers, eager to be perceived as ethical and green, to the public would raise funds to be channeled ...more »
What is it?
Government backed financial instruments which aim to channel funds to renewable energy producers to create a more competitive renewable energy sector and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Who proposes it?
Green Bonds Canada an Action Canada initiative
How does it work?
Green Bonds issued by private fund managers, eager to be perceived as ethical and green, to the public would raise funds to be channeled towards renewable energy producers. The federal government could encourage this creation by guaranteeing the principal and a minimal rate of return which would match traditional Savings Bonds. The Bonds could have a variable rate of return which is above the minimal rate of return which the government guarantees. It is expected that the main cost to the government would be covering for defaulted loans. The Canadian public overwhelmingly supports the issue of Green Bonds and 62.2% of the respondents indicate that they would be willing to invest in the bonds (Action Canada). It seems reasonable to expect that Australian support for the Green Bonds would be quite similar.
If issued, Green Bonds can be expected to raise significant funds to finance a starved renewable energy sector. This is of great significance because the renewable energy sector suffers from a lack of financing. The renewable energy sector faces significant challenges in raising funds because banks are often slow to embrace and fund new technology. Banks, traditionally risk averse and conservative, often need to see a technology in use for 15 years before commercially financing it (Savory 2008). This has created a significant funding gap for renewable energy producers as their technologies are only recently being used on a bigger scale. This is where the impact of Green Bonds can be substantial. With increased funds ready to be dispersed at low costs to finance new renewable energy projects they are likely to facilitate a transition towards renewable energy. The availability of low cost funding is especially important in energy production because capital costs often constitute a significant portion of production costs (Action Canada). As such, if the cost and availability of capital for the renewable energy sector is improved then it is likely to assist renewable energy producers in becoming more competitive with improved employment prospects and environmental benefits as direct consequences.
Initially, the funds generated by the issue of Green Bonds would be targeted at industries and projects with limited technology risks that would become price competitive with access to low cost financing. Eventually, it is hoped that the funding from Green Bonds would increase market demand for renewable energy and radically change the energy that we use.
What makes Green Bonds more compelling that tax credits or subsidies is that they are expected to facilitate greenhouse gas emissions at a lower cost. In Canada it is expected that the issue of Green Bonds could “provide additional Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reductions well in excess of 25 Megatonnes/year (Mt/year) by the year 2020, at an estimated cost to the government of between $1 and $12.88 per tonnes” (Action Canada).
Where has it worked?
The European Investment Bank issued a Climate Awareness Bond in 2007 which is used to finance up to 75% of European renewable energy projects (Action Canada).
The World Bank, in partnership with Swedish bank SEB: Green Bond initiative - financing projects such as wind farms and solar parks in 2008 (World Bank 2009).
The American initiative Green Bonds which provides U$2bn worth of AAA rated bonds issued by the US treasury to finance environmentally friendly development and the recovery of industrial wastelands (Smith).
Action Canada,Green Bonds: A Public Policy Proposal, Retrieved from: http://www.greenbonds.ca/index2.html
Savory, E., (2008), Buy a Bond, Save the Planet, CBS News, Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2008/07/16/f-savory-tomrand.html
Smith, L., Green Bonds: Fixed Returns to Fix the Planet, Retrieved from: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/bonds/07/green-bonds.asp
Steed, A., (2006), New Bond Designed to Give all of Euopre a ‘Green’ Tinge, The Daily Telegraph, Retrieved from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/4204070/New-bond-designed-to-give-all-of-Europe-a-green-tinge.html
The World Bank (2009), First ‘World Bank Green Bonds’ Launched, Retrieved from: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:22024264~pagePK:64257043~piPK:437376~theSitePK:4607,00.html
Regulating our fisheries: promoting local ownership The problem: The privatisation of fisheries and allowing the market to decide who should own the right to fish is a serious problem. Private property rights regimes that are based on capital investment are not the solution to the world’s fisheries problems. Private property rights and market mechanisms will not ensure that fishing is sustainable, nor provide the quality ...more »
Regulating our fisheries: promoting local ownership
The privatisation of fisheries and allowing the market to decide who should own the right to fish is a serious problem. Private property rights regimes that are based on capital investment are not the solution to the world’s fisheries problems. Private property rights and market mechanisms will not ensure that fishing is sustainable, nor provide the quality of life that rural people seek. Worldwide, the management and governance of fisheries is in urgent need of reform.
Re-establish small-scale local fisheries systems with new sustainable practices having minimal affect on the marine environment. Existing approaches have failed to constrain fishing capacity or to manage conflict. The global market dominated by large corporations do not consider conservation policies. Human dependence on marine and coastal resources is increasing therefore there is a need to promote the role of local industries in coastal development. Today, small-scale fisheries employ 50 of the world’s 51 million fishers, practically all of who are from developing countries. And together, they produce more than half of the world’s annual marine fish catch of 98 million tonnes, supplying most of the fish consumed in the developing world.
Where has it been implemented?
How it works
Atlantic ‘inshore fisheries’ is the recent development in sustainable economic policy in Canada.
• Atlantic ‘inshore fisheries’ limits access to valuable species like lobster and crab to small boats
• Issues licences only to individual fish harvesters
• Limits each individual to one licence per species
• Requires every individual licence holder to use their licences personally.
• Explicitly prohibits processing companies from holding inshore fishing licences, thereby blocks the vertical integration of fish harvesting and fish processing operations.
These policies have created an inshore fleet of approximately 15,000 independent licence holders and an additional 30,000 crew members who generate 75% of the landed value and 99% of the employment in Atlantic Canada’s annual $1.8 billion fishery. Moreover, these licences are distributed over hundreds of small coastal communities, making the inshore fishery in Atlantic Canada an important source of rural employment.
Local fishery practices in Australia
World Wildlife Fund Australia is contributing to the conservation of degraded fisheries through the Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) scheme. WWF Australia supports the development of local fisheries that adopt sustainable and conserving practices, aiming to have minimal impact on the marine environment. Below are four major activities that WWF Australia is doing:
➢ WWF Australia is promoting the uptake of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of commercial fisheries, and MSC products on supermarket shelves - Certification of fisheries provides consumers with the assurance that fish comes from well-managed sources and does not compromise the long-term health of the marine environment.
➢ WWF Australia is pushing for the elimination of environmentally destructive fishing gear and the modification of existing gear to reduce by-catch.
➢ WWF Australia is working with fisheries management authorities and the fishing industry to stop illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
➢ WWF Australia is promoting 'no-take' fishing zones and marine protected areas (where fisheries can be replenished) to protect fish nurseries and areas of high conservation value.
Who recommends it?
Friends of the Earth
It is beyond argument that climate change in Australia will not lose jobs and will in fact create millions more jobs as we transition to a more sustainable economy for the future, these jobs are called green jobs. 'The conservation NGO's estimates show that renewable energy, green transport and energy-efficient goods and services employ at least 3.4 million people in Europe. This compares favourably with 2.8 million jobs ...more »
It is beyond argument that climate change in Australia will not lose jobs and will in fact create millions more jobs as we transition to a more sustainable economy for the future, these jobs are called green jobs. 'The conservation NGO's estimates show that renewable energy, green transport and energy-efficient goods and services employ at least 3.4 million people in Europe. This compares favourably with 2.8 million jobs in mining, electricity, gas, cement, iron, steel and other polluting industries, it reads'. (www.euractiv.com)
What is a green job?
There is a varying scale of green when it comes to green jobs some jobs can be classified as a lighter shade of green for example office managers who help reduce energy waste, or mining workers who help save fuel or rehabilitate land, to a deeper green which would be working in renewable energy- invention, manufacturing, distribution and installation.
Angelides from Apollo Alliance (a coalition of business, labor and environmental groups championin green employment) defines the criteria for green jobs as, “It needs to reduce waste and pollution and benefit the environment” (Time magazine).
The spectrum of green jobs is one of huge variety, on one side there are existing blue collar jobs which have been extended in order to combat climate change such as a plumber implementing new energy saving taps, thus implementing a blue collar job with a shade of green. On the other end is the industrial side, consisting of manufacturing hybrid cars would be a deep green job. Implementing the shade of green into Australian jobs is crucial in the future of combating climate change and will be the only way in the future to become carbon neutral.
'The global market for environmental products and services is projected to double from US$1,370 billion (1.37 trillion) per year at present to US$2,740 billion (2.74 trillion) by 2020' ultimately creating more jobs within the sector'. (www.unep.org)
Supporters of green jobs:
Australian Conservation Foundation
World Wildlife Foundation
Where is it working?
America: Those who have developed solar thermal technologies have moved to America as the American government has incentives already in place for those operating in the renewable sector. Obama has promised to spend $150 billion over 10 years to create 5 million new green-collar jobs. Hundreds of employees have started work at the new wind company in Pennsylvania a plant which has been built on the site of an old U.S. Steel manufacturing facility.
'2.3 million people have in recent years found new jobs in the renewable energy sector alone, and the potential for job growth in the sector is huge. Employment in alternative energies may rise to 2.1 million in wind and 6.3 million in solar power by 2030'. (www.unep.org)
Germany: After renewable energy laws were tightened the renewable energy workforce grew from 160,000 to 236,000 in just two years 2004-2006.
United Kingdom: Planning to create 1 million new green jobs primarily in manufacturing green technologies, estimated that the clean energy sector alone could create up to 260,000 jobs over the next ten years.
As harmful industries such as coal begin to close down in the near future due to technological advancements in the energy sector there will be no need for people to be working in these un-green areas and instead will be re-skilled and prepared for cleaner energy production. Whoever comes up with an electricity alternative will need new employees, it has been suggested by the Australia Conservation Foundation that Skills Australia will probably take on this job when the time comes as workers need to be taught new skills so that they can be ready, funds should be allocated by the Australian Government in the 2010 budget if they are serious about a green future.
If we don’t move into green collar jobs then we will not be competitive in the international market of sustainable renewable energy and will have a severe shortage on workers who are able to operate these renewable systems. The more green jobs Australia can create in the next few years the better as we should intend to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Abstract: Students currently studying at University in Australia are provided by the government with a HECS-loan (Higher Education Contribution Scheme). This loan scheme allows students to defer the debt incurred whilst studying and repay the debt later through the tax system. This provides financial cover until they have earnt approximately $38,000, if for some reason their income drops and they are earning less than ...more »
Students currently studying at University in Australia are provided by the government with a HECS-loan (Higher Education Contribution Scheme). This loan scheme allows students to defer the debt incurred whilst studying and repay the debt later through the tax system. This provides financial cover until they have earnt approximately $38,000, if for some reason their income drops and they are earning less than this threshold then the loan repayments are placed on hold until their finances move beyond the quota. The repayments are only a small percentage with interest at only 2-3% a year depending on that persons end of financial year earnings.
What is it?
Sydney Morning Herald economics editor Ross Gittins has suggested the possibility of using the HECS-style loan system and appropriating it to drought assistance. “Rather than being given grants, farmers could receive income-contingent loans. The speed with which their incomes recovered after the drought would determine the speed with which the loan was repaid”.
How could it work?
Professor Bruce Chapman of the Australian National University describes this process as “income contingent loans providing default insurance”, and as a form of insurance “being unable to make repayments doesn’t put you in default of the loan contract”.
Option 1: The loan is used for tough periods until the drought is over.
Gittins further explains how through the use of the HECS-style soft loan how it would benefit farming businesses allowing “them to smooth their consumption between the good years and the bad” (SMH 27/03/2007) Allowing farmers to benefit from a scheme such as this would provide a financial safety-net, so if something were to happen to their crops resulting in a loss of income for the year the farmer would not have to declare bankruptcy as his business would not have to repay the loan if he had not met the threshold, ultimately allowing more farming businesses to stay open as they won’t be defaulting on loans.
These loans would give them some financial security from one year to the next as the drought is expected to worsen over the next 5 years due to more rapid than previously expected climate change.
Dr Michael Coughlan from the Bureau of Meterology said: “We will see more rainfall in the north of Australia but a drying of the southern half” (SMH 27/03/2007) therefore it is essential that the Australian Government do something so that when the drought does worsen that our agricultural industry doesn’t go down with it, helping farming businesses transition is the best option out there.
Option 2: The loan is used for investments which make the farm more economically and ecologically sustainable for the future.
Currently there is a gap in the system between what farming businesses want and what the government is giving them, this is that “Farmers currently provide, either voluntarily or by legislation, a range of environmental outcomes on behalf of the entire community yet they bear up to 100% of the cost with little public recognition”.(National Farmers Federation)
If the Australian government can provide a loan scheme which can be implemented in these cases then it would be more economically sustainable for farming businesses to embark on sustainable practices such as ‘better pasture and soil management, upgrading irrigation systems for increased water use efficiency (that can contribute to energy efficiency, energy savings, and labour savings), or building storage facilities, silos, hay sheds and fencing, which are all proven mitigation tools in drought management’(National Farmers Federation), as they would not be at risk of losing everything, and could slowly pay back these loans they’ve use to invest in the renewable market, after the drought has weakened and higher income can be accomplished.
For example, a farmer who has implemented on-farm renewable energy and water-saving infrastructure such as switching from high water dependency crops to non-high water dependency crops, should be eligible for this style of loan system.
Instead of simply providing funding to the agricultural industry and the funding drying up after awhile it would be better to implement a scheme such as this one to provide farming businesses with a sustainable future, as long as they are doing their bit for the environment.
Peter Andrew- Australian Story ABC
Christine Jones- Australian Soil Carbon Accreditation Scheme founder.
What is it? A regulated four day work week initially established by the public sector and potentially extended to the private sector. Who supports it? The UK (National Work at Home Day), Utah State Government, USA How does it work? The four day work week aims to reconstruct the 40-hour week into four days: by starting earlier and staying later. Employer salaries are not cut and the total amount of time worked remains ...more »
What is it?
A regulated four day work week initially established by the public sector and potentially extended to the private sector.
Who supports it?
The UK (National Work at Home Day), Utah State Government, USA
How does it work?
The four day work week aims to reconstruct the 40-hour week into four days: by starting earlier and staying later. Employer salaries are not cut and the total amount of time worked remains the same. The four-day week doesn’t have to be restricted to Monday through to Thursday, workers can alternate the day they want to schedule off, although the greatest environmental and energy consumption benefits are realized if the office is closed an extra day a week.
The book “A Nation of Farmers” (Drum Beat, 2007) provides 16 reasons factors that justify a four day work week. A four day work week will contribute to a better environment. The environmental benefits include the overall reduction of energy use due to one day’s less energy consumption in the work place. Even though the number of hours worked may not change, energy consumption will fall as the energy used to “start up” the work place every morning will only be required four days a week. Reduced energy consumption may significantly reduce operational costs for companies and contribute positively to the bottom line. Moreover, by only commuting to work four days a week significant reduction of petrol consumption may be expected. This will further decrease carbon dioxide emissions and contribute to a better environment.
The four day work week is expected to improve the work environment significantly. With increased employee morale, work efficiency and a fall in the abuse of sick days it is likely that a four day work week will contribute positively to the work place. Moreover, a four day work week enables internationally oriented business to operate across time zones more easily.
The 4 day work week will not only contribute positively to the bottom line and to the environment, it may also have significant health benefits. A reduced number of days commuting to work decreases exposure to traffic related pollutants which, it seems fair to say, will contribute positively to overall health. Additionally, the extra day of rest and increased time spent with friends, families and on hobbies is likely to contribute positively to overall well-being.
Initially, the four day work week could be regulated in non-emergency parts of the public sector. With extended opening hours in the afternoons it may, despite offices being open only four days a week, be more accessible to the public. With its successful implementation in the public sector it may be expected that the private sector may follow the public sector and embrace the four day work week.
Where has it been tried?
The Utah government implemented the four day work week for 17,000 state employees in response to budget constraints and high-energy costs in 2008. By May 2009, the state had saved USD $1.8 million in energy costs as a result of the new work schedules. After 12 months of this new working week in practice, Utah’s experiment has been regarded successful, and a new acronym has emerged as a response to the policy: TGIT (thank God it’s Thursday). The state found that its compressed workweek resulted in a 13% reduction in energy use and estimated that employees saved as much as $6 million in fuel costs. Altogether, the initiative will cut the state’s greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 12,000 metric tons a year. Moreover, 82% of the employees say they want to keep the new schedule.
Technological progress enables more work related activities to be taken care of from home. Increasingly, employees attempt to spend less time at the work place and more time at a location of their choice. As a result, the UK government has implemented a “NATIONAL WORK FROM HOME DAY” on May 18th every year. This annual event has a series of benefits for the individual, the economy and the environment. Work from Home Day reduces the amount of traveling resulting in less pollution and CO2 emissions. With fewer days spent at the office people not only save time but also money as they avoid travel expenditure vehicle, petrol, bus fares, parking fees etc.
What is it? Public funds should incorporate best practice environmental, social and governance (ESG) guidelines into its investment decisions. This aligns the long term interests of the members, government policy and the environment. Who proposes it? The Australian Conservation Foundation How does it work? In recent years, it has become increasingly accepted that companies that engage in socially responsible behaviour ...more »
What is it?
Public funds should incorporate best practice environmental, social and governance (ESG) guidelines into its investment decisions. This aligns the long term interests of the members, government policy and the environment.
Who proposes it?
The Australian Conservation Foundation
How does it work?
In recent years, it has become increasingly accepted that companies that engage in socially responsible behaviour characterized by stringent environmental, social and governance guidelines generate long term value to both shareholders and stakeholders. Research also indicates that socially responsible investment strategies may result in better than long term average returns than orthodox corporate strategies (Guenster et. Al 2005).
The understanding that socially responsible behaviour aligns shareholder and stakeholder interests led to the establishment of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UN-PRI). These aim to assist fund managers to incorporate ESG guidelines with investment decisions. Significant numbers of superannuation and investment funds have become signatories to the UN-PRI. Unfortunately, as these guidelines are aspirational and lack enforcement mechanisms they may only have a limited impact on the investment decisions and behaviour of funds (Australian Conservation Foundation a 2008).
In Australia, most government funds have not embraced industry best ESG practices. At the moment Australian Reward Investment Alliance (ARIA) and VicSuper are leading government funds in embracing responsible investment practices. However, these still lack a capacity for negative screening of companies that engage in practices that contradict UN-PRI. As such, while they to some degree have embraced appropriate principles for decision making they have not actually altered their investment behaviour. Overall, in 2007 of the $28 Billion invested by Australian government funds only $775 Million were invested in companies that may be viewed as socially responsible (Australian Conservation Foundation a 2008).
Currently, the investment decisions of government funds often contradict and undermine government policies. All three levels of government in Australia aim to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, in 2007 only $125 Million of government funds was invested in renewable energy while $5379 Million was invested in nuclear and fossil fuel energy (Australian Conservation Foundation a 2008). This conflict between government policy and government fund investments demonstrates the need for government funds to embrace UN-PRI guidelines. By embracing and implementing UN-PRI guidelines government funds may actively contribute to achieving government policies.
Where has it been tried?
The Norwegian government established that the Norwegian Government Pension Funds (NGPF) follow strict ESG principles. The fund expects that companies in which it invests comply with the governance guidelines influenced by the UN-PRI. If companies are determined to have lost value for the members of the funds then the fund will engage in a class action to recover this value. A Council of Ethics engages in negative screening where companies that don’t comply with the fund’s code of ethics are excluded from investment decisions. As a result, the fund has divested from companies that trade in arms or nuclear materials and engage in activities that violate human rights, environmental law or corruption (Australian Conservation Foundation a 2008).
The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) is another example where responsible investment has truly been embraced. CalPERS is similar to the Norwegian fund except that it engages in positive screening. This is manifested in two ways. Firstly, it has invested 3% of its funds in renewable technology funds. Secondly, its ownership of real estate is characterized by a strategy which aims to reduce energy consumption by 20% in 5 years (Australian Conservation Foundation a 2008).
Australian Conservation Foundation, a, (2008), Responsible Public Investment in Australia: Progress and Barriers in Integrating Environment, Social and Governance Factors by Government Investment Funds, Retrieved from: http://www.acfonline.org.au/uploads/res/govt_investment.pdf
Australian Conservation Foundation, b, (2008), Government Investments Should be Consistent with Climate Policies, Retrieved from: http://www.acfonline.org.au/articles/news.asp?news_id=1680
Guenster, N., Derwall, J., Bauer, R. and K. Koedijk, (2005), The Economic Value of Corporate Eco-Efficiency, A study by the Center for Responsible Business at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, 2005
Future Fund uses the same tax havens that government is trying to crack down on: http://www.smh.com.au/business/future-fund-enjoys-tax-break-in-cayman-islands-20091029-hnnx.html
Cut Fuel Consumption Introduce mandatory fuel efficiency standards What they are? At the moment, Australia’s car fleet is far behind Europe in fuel efficiency. New cars in Europe are 40% more efficient than new cars in Australia (Henry 2008). To address this fuel efficiency disparity, Australian governments should initiate a staged introduction of mandatory fuel efficiency standards that regulate the lowest level of ...more »
Cut Fuel Consumption
Introduce mandatory fuel efficiency standards
What they are?
At the moment, Australia’s car fleet is far behind Europe in fuel efficiency. New cars in Europe are 40% more efficient than new cars in Australia (Henry 2008). To address this fuel efficiency disparity, Australian governments should initiate a staged introduction of mandatory fuel efficiency standards that regulate the lowest level of fuel efficiency for new cars. Mandatory fuel efficiency standards of this kind would significantly improve the fuel efficiency of and substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions produced by the Australian car fleet (COAG 2009).
Australian Conservation Foundation and The Australian Greens
How they work?
Australian regulators can decide on fuel efficiency standards for all classes of new cars in Australia. How these fuel efficiency standards are set can vary. The EU have decided that standards should be based on emissions whereas Japan’s standards have followed a “best in class” approach where the best performing vehicles in each class set the standards (Australian Transport Council et. Al. 2008). While the way in which fuel efficiency standards are set can vary, a strong case can be made that they need to be set at a similar level to the EU and Japan. This would reduce compliance costs when cars are exported and promote innovation in fuel efficiency (Australian Transport Council et. Al. 2008). Cars that do not abide by these fuel efficiency standards should receive an additional fee or experience increased tax rates to disadvantage them in the competition with cars that do meet the standards.
Historically, Australia has experimented with voluntary fuel efficiency standards. Voluntary fuel efficiency standards where the government sets ambitious goals for the car industry to meet have largely failed as they have lacked strong incentives for car makers to meet the fuel efficiency standards. These non-binding fuel efficiency standards were announced in 1983, 1987, 2000 and 2006. In 2006 only one car met the proposed standards (Henry 2008).
At a recent meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), it was acknowledged that ‘international studies have indicated (efficiency standards) have the capacity to reduce fuel consumption by 30 per cent over the medium term, and significantly contribute to emissions reductions’. Surprisingly, despite this announcement, COAG decided against supporting the introduction of mandatory fuel efficiency standards to reduce fuel consumption, increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions (COAG 2009).
To make the introduction of mandatory fuel efficiency standards more effective it could be complemented with financial incentives for the customer to buy fuel efficient cars (Australian Transport Council et. Al. 2008). This could take the shape of a Feebate system proposed elsewhere on this site which could reduce the financial stress that fuel efficiency standards may initially cause the car industry.
Consumers should also support mandatory fuel efficiency standards. The ACF estimates that with fuel at A$1.50/L an average Australian driver should save $1000/year with a 6.8L/100km (COAG 2008). At lower petrol prices, it is still expected that fuel efficiency standards will save car owner substantial sums of money over the lifetime of the car. As such, it seems that there could be strong political grass-roots support for fuel efficiency standards.
Assuming that there is a political ambition to lower carbon dioxide emissions from cars, mandatory fuel efficiency standards should be an appealing strategy. The other strategy for reducing emissions from cars is a carbon tax and considering that these affect most households it may be a more difficult political initiative than fuel efficiency standards.
Having considered a mandatory fuel efficiency standard it seem that there is a clear case for their introduction. It will cause the car industry some financial stress however it will save car buyers substantial sums of money, reduce green house gas emissions and further encourage a transition to a low carbon economy.
Where has it worked?
International studies show that mandatory fuel efficiency standards can lead to 30% reduction in fuel consumption (COAG 2008).
Australian Conservation Foundation, (2008), How much is too much fuel?, Retrieved from: http://www.acfonline.org.au/articles/news.asp?news_id=1592
Australian Transport Council and Environment Protection and Heritage Council, (2008), Potential Measures to Encourage the Uptake of More Fuel Efficient, Low Carbon Emission Vehicles
Council of Australian Governments, (2009), Council of Australian Governments’ Meeting 2 July 2009 – COAG Communique – Preamble, Retrieved from: http://www.coag.gov.au/coag_meeting_outcomes/2009-07-02/index.cfm?CFID=112165&CFTOKEN=68793040#energy
Henry, D., (2008), Towards a green Budget: Don Henry’s Press Club Address, Australian Conservation Foundation, Retrieved from: http://www.acfonline.org.au/articles/news.asp?news_id=1711
The coal industry today is both indirectly and directly subsidized by the NSW Government allowing our greenhouse gas emissions to severely increase every year, our major source of energy comes from this sector. ‘Australia has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world’ (Diesendorf Chapter 3). The indirect subsidies include five separate categories, by indirectly subsidizing the coal industry the government ...more »
The coal industry today is both indirectly and directly subsidized by the NSW Government allowing our greenhouse gas emissions to severely increase every year, our major source of energy comes from this sector. ‘Australia has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world’ (Diesendorf Chapter 3). The indirect subsidies include five separate categories, by indirectly subsidizing the coal industry the government is encouraging the domestic use of coal-fired electricity and expansion of the industry:
Development Subsidies: The Government directly funding electricity production/delivery and consumption allowing the price of electricity in Australia to be almost the lowest in the world, ‘New Reliability Standards for electricity distributors were introduced in 2005. This will see $9.1 billion invested in the NSW network over the next five years’.(nonewcoal.greens.org.au/coal) Outlines in the budget on June 16, 2009 ‘The state’s second largest coal-fired power station, which already emits about 12 million tones of carbon dioxide each year, will be expanded with an investment of $205 million’ by the Government. (SMH 16/06/2009)
The NSW Government have never spent this much money on energy before with a total budget dedicated to development of energy at $3.5 billion. ‘The Greens MP John Kaye said the Eraring expansion was the equivalent of building a new coal-fired power station and would add about 2% to NSW emissions from electricity’(SMH 16/06/2009). Since 1998 the figure of funding for development has reached $9056.13 billion. (nonewcoal.greens.org.au/coal)
The NSW Government is not serious about Climate Change if they are proposing the opening of new coal-fired power stations or extending ones which currently exist.
Infrastructure Subsidies: In 2008 the NSW Government introduced an $8.1million plan to the construction of infrastructure projects in the Newcastle region at the old site of BHP in Mayfield granting them funds to develop a new ‘wastewater transfer system, incl. a new pumping station and pipelines’ as well as new road works to the surrounding site. In 2006-2011 the Hunter Valley Strategy was funded $375million ‘to deliver track capacity to meet coal growth requirements’(nonewcoal.greens.org.au/coal), again in 2008, ‘$1 billion-plus in federal rail funding to help double export capacity from the Hunter Valley coal chain by 2014’(SMH 16/06/2009). Since 1998 the figure of funding in infrastructure has reached $972.1 million
Project and Program Subsidies: ‘Coal accounts for approximately 90% of total mining royalties in NSW’ (NSW Department of Primary Industries, 2007). Since 1998 the figure of funding has reached $88.16 million. (nonewcoal.greens.org.au/coal)
Administration and Information Network Subsidies: The latest was 2006-2007 the Government gave $40.81 million to the Department of Primary Industries to a technology which can locate ‘additional coal development areas to increase competitiveness in the industry’, since 1998 the figure of funding in the administration has reached $123.36 million.(nonewcoal.greens.org.au/coal)
Clean Coal Research and Development: The NSW Government is currently spending $22million on two pilot clean coal projects. Since 1998 the figure of funding in the area has reached $62.1million and will only grow with the introduction of the CPRS scheme if it passes this November.
If only 62.1 million is only spent on clean coal research and development then that leaves $10,279,147,000 billion spent by the NSW Government since 1998 on indirectly subsidizing the coal industry. (nonewcoal.greens.org.au/coal)
The only direct subsidy the government provides to the coal industry is through their diesel fuel rebate scheme (www.ato.gov.au). The government currently provides a rebate on diesel fuels purchased for specific off-road users in the mining and agricultural industries allowing the coal companies to ‘maintain competitiveness in key export industries…’ (www.ato.gov.au)
Through using direct and indirect subsidies the government is allowing subsidies in areas that ‘drive increased climate pollution’ instead of redirecting fossil fuels away from this area and towards renewable energy sources which provide a better environment for the future as well as a more sustainable economy. Our Government should be giving more to renewable energy sources, instead of the current $9 billion dollar of taxpayer’s money which goes to fossil fuel subsidies every year. (Greenpeace Submission)
For the sake of our planet our government should stop investing so much money into the coal industry; our economy has been entrenched in this ‘dirty energy’ for too long, for our economy the government needs to move forward to a more sustainable economy and environment for the future. PM Kevin Rudd needs to make the decision to abandon this idea of CCS (carbon capture and storage) project as it is potentially ‘unnecessary and inefficient’ and make the switch to clean energy now as Mark Diesendorf along with many others has proposed. (Greenpeace Submission).
‘Currently renewable energy represents 6.1% of the State’s total energy consumption’(nonewcoal.greens.org.au/coal). Mark Diesendorf has proposed recently ideas on changing government policy to create a shift from coal-fired power stations to a clean and renewable energy supply scenario. See below Figure 3.2 and 3.3 as this shows the effective and less expensive way than the government has proposed, on executing a clean energy scenario for Australia’s future.
'The proposed substitution would reduce the socioeconomic risk faced by New South Wales, as the result of having an electricity supply system that is based 98% upon coal' (Diesendorf, pg 49)
Diesendorf argues that unlike previous times in history we are no longer completely dependent on the energy derived from coal and now have better alternatives for our economy. We need to ‘reduce dramatically the use of conventional (co2-emitting) coal-fired power stations by means of efficient energy use, gas, renewable sources of energy and other low c02 sources that meet the requirements of sustainable development’, (Diesendorf, pg 281).
Taxpayer’s should not be subject to the cost of subsidies these rich coal industries which are capable of funding themselves. ‘Studies indicate that combinations of efficient energy use, renewable energy and natural gas, as a transitional fuel, maybe less expensive than building coal-fired power stations’ (Diesendorf Chapter 3).
The Greens NSW are calling on the NSW Government to immediately end all coal mining and coal power subsidies and redirect them to clean energy technologies and energy efficiency programs. ‘The Greens want to ‘expose ‘clean coal’ and carbon capture and storage as dangerous myths that distract from the urgent task of reducing greenhouse gas emissions’. (nsw.greens.org.au/policies/coal)
Diesendorf. M 'Greenhouse Solutions with sustainable energy' Published by UNSW 2007
•Greenpeace Australia Pacific submission to the AFTS Architecture Report