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Australia launches independent climate change authority

The UK is the first country to implement the model of having an independent climate change advisory body, and this has led to significant interest overseas. On the 1st of July the Australian Government introduced a price on carbon of around £15/tCO2, as part of a broad package of legislation including a new independent statutory body on climate change, the Climate Change Authority (CCA).

There are many similarities between the Australian CCA and the CCC in the UK. Both include a high-profile committee of experts in technology, science and economics, supported by an analytical secretariat.  The organisations are both underpinned by statute, which sets the framework for the work program and recommendations to Government.

The CCA’s first task will be to make recommendations regarding the renewable energy target by the end of the year, followed by advice on the pollution caps to apply when the carbon price moves to a flexible price emissions trading scheme in 2015. As is common in climate change policy, the CCA faces significant political challenges ahead, particularly regarding getting agreement between the major parties on key issues.

The CCA’s board is staffed with highly credible and respected experts. The Committee’s chair is Bernie Fraser, is well known to the community and widely respected as he chaired the Reserve Bank of Australia between 1989 and 1996. The committee’s seven members are made up of professors, economists, a leading climate scientist, and professionals with strong practical backgrounds in business and investment.

The UK has been very supportive of the development of climate change policy in Australia, with David Cameron writing a letter to congratulate Prime Minister Julia Gillard on passing the climate legislation in 2011, calling it a “bold step”. Ed Davey has offered his support, saying that “it is heartening to see Australia joining the growing list of countries which are taking meaningful action to cut their carbon emissions”.

At the CCC we are watching with interest at how the CCA will develop and wish them best of luck on the exciting and challenging path ahead.

Alex Kazaglis is a senior analyst on buildings and industry. Alex was recently interviewed as part of an interview series sponsored by the British Council that aims to bring some of the lessons learned from climate policy in the UK to an Australian audience. Watch it below