This legal update is to provide an overview of the key findings
of a significant research paper commissioned by GE and conducted
jointly by Norton Rose Group and Vivid Economics.
The report provides new evidence that a transition to a low carbon
economy is already underway in many countries, and that the right
combination of policies and technologies may allow this to happen
in Australia while continuing to build prosperity.
The report, entitled "Protecting Prosperity: lessons from
leading low-carbon economies", analyses the clean growth
trajectories of a range of OECD economies, the carbon productivity
and intensity of the energy and electricity sectors in six key
economies over time, and the policies of those economies which are
designed to reduce emissions and promote clean growth in the
A key concept in the report is the notion of "carbon
productivity" which is becoming an increasingly important
metric in the low carbon future. Carbon productivity is the level
of GDP per capita produced per unit of emissions. As economies grow
over time, their carbon productivity of the economy will be a
measure of how clean that growth is. Economies that can grow while
reducing their carbon emissions will be best positioned for higher
prosperity in a carbon-constrained future.
Figure B within the report shows the carbon productivity
trajectories of a range of economies over time (the thin end of
each line is 1980 which gradually gets thicker until the line ends
in 2007). Effectively, the steeper the incline the more clean the
growth in the economy has been. Some countries have achieved
higher rates of clean growth than others.
The report analysed carbon productivity in six major economies -
Australia, UK, China, USA, Germany and Japan. The reporT
investigated the changes in energy productivity and efficiency over
time for these six economies and the policies that
contributed to their trajectories.
The report makes the following key findings:
a transformation is needed in Australia's electricity
sector so that more electricity can be efficiently generated with
a broad-based, market-driven carbon price is the lowest cost
method to reach a given emissions target as seen in the economies
with an ETS such as the UK and Germany
a well-designed mix of complementary policies are required to
achieve additional low-carbon investment goals efficiently. Such
policies should be broad based and to the greatest extent market
based; such as renewable energy targets, clean energy standards or
gas incentive schemes.
This review has abstracts of recent developments relating to pollution and contaminated land in Australian jurisdictions.
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