Local government, businesses and retail investors are creating new programs to reduce greenhouse emissions. On the other hand, Canberra is ignoring the red flags from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

20 members of the Business Council Australia’s climate change committee took the support for reducing greenhouse emissions by announcing that they were thinking about creating a “self-regulating package” of rules and mechanism in order to reduce emissions. Some of the members were from the biggest energy companies and corporations. Separate action was taken by 70 local councils with about 70 initiatives to stop the progress of climate change. And another 35 councils signed power purchase agreements. These agreements were also signed by corporations which are not part of the BCA committee.

BCA is also considering an agreement but it is still discussed by the biggest players on the market: Origin, Siemens, BHP, Ausgrid, Snowy Hydro, and Shell Australia. But The Australian Financial Review the committee members didn’t want to comment on the matter. The main focus for the industry-directed measures is to help corporations to upgrade their assets or to build new ones up to imposed standards. It is necessary to mention that these plans don’t involve carbon trading, nor a cap and trade mechanism.

Origin chief executive officer Frank Calabria thinks that important players are important to such initiatives and he is supportive of the collaboration to reform the energy sector. But, it is unknown if he backs up all the mechanisms for the climate change action. “The challenge is an orderly transition – firming the influx of renewable energy into the grid and ensuring that customers are not exposed to further reliability or price shocks. We’ve seen the consequences when you let one of the objectives of energy policy get out of balance with the other three. I’m of course referring to reliability, security, affordability and sustainability,” Mr Calabria said.

He also noted that he expects the industry to propose policies, and that the government has the same views. “The government has been clear that the industry needs to stop waiting for policy certainty and just get on with the job of providing more affordable and reliable energy,” he said.

Corporates are not alone in this fight.

The power of the people helps councils change emissions policies

Councils are also pairing up and taking climate change action, ignoring the lack of interest for the matter of the federal government. Cities Power Partnership published a report containing 300 climate change policies made by the 70 councils involved.

The Cities Power Partnership report says: “At the federal level, climate action continues to stall. Under current policy settings, Australia will not meet its 26-28 per cent emissions reduction target. Despite this, towns, shires and cities across the country are tackling climate change by driving down greenhouse gas pollution.” The actions include renewable energy targets and the reduction of city-wide gas emissions. Many councils are also committing to introducing sustainable transport options, installing charging stations in order to stimulate the purchase of electric vehicles and other infrastructure changes.

Another milestone for this initiative is the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). 28 NSW councils signed an agreement which states that by 1 July 2019, 35% of the retail energy to be from a renewable energy source. Participating councils will receive 39GWh per year from the Moree Solar Farm. This project is set to end in 2030, claims the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils.

Namoi Dougall, SSROC general manager declared that “This is a new and exciting model for electricity supply and a prime example of what councils can achieve when we work together. SSROC is proud to have led the charge towards securing a more sustainable future for councils through this approach to buying renewable energy.”

Agreements for energy purchase

Many companies signing the PPA will by power from renewable sources. The PPA is attractive to businesses because of the possibility of buying cheaper electricity. But that is only one reason corporates are entering the agreement. Social responsibility, extending the marketing edge through carbon neutrality targets are also great incentives for them. Telstra, Carlton United Breweries, UNSW, Monash and BlueScope are some of the big names that joined PPA.

Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis thinks that this is an acceptable solution because of the lack of current federal legislation in this field.

Retail investors are joining the change

Small local businesses and investors are showing interest for renewable energy. ClearSky Solar Investments, NSW Green Globes award winner, told The Fifth Estate that they are struggling to keep up with the demand for renewable projects from local investor and businesses.