Sunday, July 13, 2008

Australia lagging in energy efficiency: report

ABC News Online, Posted 5 hours 29 minutes ago 

Updated 2 hours 40 minutes ago

The Climate Institute says Australia will squander its opportunities to reduce emissions unless it tackles its poor performance in energy efficiency and productivity.

A new report shows developed and developing countries are more competitive in energy production than many sectors of the Australian economy.

It found Australia is the second most inefficient of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries for manufacturing, and has the third most energy hungry economy - behind the United States and Canada.

Climate Institute CEO John Connor says the Government needs to have a strong national energy efficiency strategy, with a timeline of no later than 2015.

"That will require a suite of policies from building performance standard, appliance standards, much greater information and even looking at energy efficiency targets, particularly if we have a soft start to the emissions trading," he said.

Mr Connor says some of the more modern aluminium smelters in Africa have better efficiency standards than many Australian smelters.

"It does blow the myth somewhat that just because some plant may move overseas, means that there is carbon leakage or greater emissions as a result," he said.

"If Australian plants want to be at world's best practice, they need to get up to date, make the investments that are necessary, and that in many sectors have been neglected."

Aluminium jobs

Meanwhile, the Australian Workers Union (AWU) is warning 15,000 aluminium sector jobs could be lost if the Government does not properly protect the industry under an emissions trading scheme.

The Government's plans on emissions trading are likely to become clearer on Wednesday when it releases a discussion paper on the issue.

AWU leader Paul Howes says the union is worried jobs will disappear overseas.

"If we were to sign an ETS that would force the aluminium out of our country, it's not like a global aluminium company is going to stop making aluminium and that could actually lead to the climate change issue becoming worse," he said.

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