Climate change is affecting us now and the future is here: ACOSS calls on governments to finally get Australia on track

ACOSS is calling on governments to use the Finkel Report to now design an energy system that will both reduce shocking energy prices and confidently deliver on our international obligation to reduce carbon pollution and transition to clean energy.

Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS, says we need an energy supply which is both affordable and secure for everyone and as clean as it can possibly be:

“Energy prices must be turned around. Thousands are being disconnected while others are wrapping themselves in blankets to limit their energy consumption. People on low incomes cannot cope, young children and older people are being badly effected.

“In the last ten years prices have skyrocketed by more than 80 per cent, disconnections have increased by nearly 50 per cent, and the number of households on hardship measures offered by energy companies has risen. Energy price rises of up to 30% are being slated for many states in coming weeks.”

The biggest driver of rising energy prices has been years of uncertainty on effective climate change policy to meet our obligations.

“It’s high time Australia got ahead of the game and created a climate and energy strategy we can all be proud of and which provides affordable energy security and reliability to people in their daily lives.

“The Finkel Report provides us with an opportunity to make the change we need: agreement about the way to reform energy policy to reduce prices, deliver security and tackle carbon emissions, fixing the detail so that we get the emission reduction we need.

“We’re pleased the Finkel Report has looked at a range of options. We now need to work through the detail to design what is needed to both deliver affordable secure energy supply for everyone, and to reduce our emissions to meet our Paris Commitments. We will closely scrutinise the impact these schemes would have on low income and disadvantaged households, as evidence already shows people on low incomes are the worst affected both by energy prices and climate change. Tackling both is vital.”

Governments must now work closely with civil society, businesses and consumer representatives to get this detail right.

“We are pleased to see some specific measures targeted at low income earners. We will look at these and the overall package to ensure issues for vulnerable households are adequately addressed.

“However, we are disappointed that the Report does not include modelling and recommendations of emission reduction targets consistent with achieving the Paris goals. Climate change is affecting us now and the future is here. We can no longer afford to play politics.

“Some immediate actions to reduce impacts of energy prices on low and modest income earners are also needed. The Federal Government must stop trying to abolish the Energy Supplement for people surviving on social security. State and Territory Energy Concessions must also be adequate.

“Governments must also deliver household energy efficiency upgrades, including minimum energy standards of rental properties. They must also develop ways for low income people and households to access power generation like solar and batteries and put in place protections against price effects for those who cannot.

“An inclusive and equitable transition to clean energy is up to us. In the interests of people on low incomes, we cannot afford to blow this opportunity to tackle energy prices and climate change, together.”

Media Contact:  Australian Council of Social Service, 0419 626 155