Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Set emissions target higher: Origin

GAS-FOCUSED Origin Energy has called on the Federal Government to reject the greenhouse advice of Ross Garnaut and set a comparatively ambitious target, even if global climate negotiations collapse.

In a tack that puts it at odds with industry groups and other electricity generators, Origin has called for Australia to cut emissions by between 10% and 20% below 2000 levels by 2020 regardless of commitments elsewhere.

Professor Garnaut last month recommended Australia cut emissions by 10% as part of an initial global deal and 5% under an ad hoc agreement involving a few countries. Under the worst-case scenario, with no ad hoc deal, Australia would not set a target.

Origin, in its submission to the Government's emissions trading scheme proposal, says Australia should show leadership in the shift to a low-emissions economy and cut emissions by at least 10% whatever the outcome of the UN climate change meeting in Copenhagen next year.

"We feel that Garnaut's 0%, 5% and 10% reduction targets are unnecessarily conservative and should each be set at higher levels," the submission says. It cites Energy Supply Association of Australia modelling that found the electricity sector could deliver a 10% to 20% cut by the end of next decade.

Origin has $2.3 billion of gas-fired generation projects being built. Last month, it announced a $9.6 billion liquefied natural gas venture with US giant ConocoPhillips, sinking a takeover bid by Britain's BG Group.

The Origin submission also:

■Says Professor Garnaut's proposed starting price of $20 a tonne is not high enough to encourage a shift from black and brown coal to gas, a comparatively clean energy source.

■Wants a national energy efficiency strategy and to retain the renewable energy target — 20% of energy coming from clean sources — until 2020.

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