2004 Energy White Paper aka “Securing Australia’s Energy Future”

Gift to the fossil lobby. See Richard Baker’s 2005 piece on how they got everything they wanted


The White Paper outlines an eight-year national plan that is audacious in its aims and orientation. It is brazen in its aggressive affirmation of continuing fossil fuel use, bold in its confrontation with the government’s established critics of its energy and climate change policies, and challenging for the renewable energy sector, which it antagonizes.2

The White Paper is also interesting for its treatment of the issue of climate change. The chapter on climate change and energy, which includes a section titled ‘Meeting the Kyoto Target’, suggests an act of policy schizophrenia by acknowledging and benchmarking itself against the Kyoto Protocol, which the Howard government has signed but also repeatedly opposed, undermined and refused to ratify. Publicly defending the White Paper a day after its launch, Prime Minister Howard argued that Australia is positioned to deliver a mix of traditional and renewable energy sources to meet our growing demand for energy. The choice we face is between low and high emissions outcomes. We need to be realistic and practical when it comes to our present and future energy needs. Coal, oil, and gas will meet the bulk of Australia’s energy demand for the foreseeable future. Those are the industries that support hundreds of thousands of jobs in Australia and that earn more than AU$24 billion a year in export income.3  John Howard, ‘Towards a Post-Kyoto Low Emissions Future’, The Age (17 June 2004), p. 13.

(Christoff, 2005: 29)


The White Paper announces the removal of a AU$1.5 billion in excise on diesel fuels, allocates AU$500 million to a Low Emissions Technology Fund intended to leverage an additional AU$1 billion in private sector investment in greenhouse gas abatement technologies (this has been interpreted to mainly promote innovation in ‘clean

coal’ technologies and CO2 geosequestration), offers an investment grant of 50 cents for every dollar spent on petroleum exploration, includes AU$75 million for ‘Solar Cities’ and AU$134 million ‘to remove impediments to the commercial development of renewable technologies’, but fails to increase in the mandatory Renewable Energy Target (or MRET) currently set at 2 per cent of total energy use.

(Christoff, 2005: 29)

Christoff, P. (2005) Policy Autism or Double-Edged Dismissiveness? Australia’s Climate Policy under the Howard Government. Global Change, Peace & Security, Vol 17, 1, pp. 29-44.

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