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As the Christmas holidays approach, many of us will start planning an escape into the great outdoors - to the bush, the beach, or our lakes or rivers. It’s a time to remember how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful country – and why we need to ensure we protect it for our children and grandchildren.
Climate change dwarfs all other environmental issues. Many of us have been anxiously following what is happening in Copenhagen. A key tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). I am unhappy about most of the recent changes to our ETS, because they shift much of the cost of emitting greenhouse gases from polluters to taxpayers. This means that the ETS will have little effect on our emissions of greenhouse gases. However, it is good that we are one of the few countries to have such a mechanism in place.
In December I also met with both the International Energy Agency and the Commerce Select Committee, where I talked about my report on smart meters. Consumers and the environment are missing out on the key benefits of this new technology for managing electricity use. Really smart meters can help consumers reduce their electricity use, saving money and benefiting the environment. I suspect I will be saying more on this topic in 2010.
We have a busy year ahead with the first priority to finish reports on transport fuels including a strategy for biofuels, how we measure and report on the health of our environment, and the role that the new Environmental Protection Authority could play.
Let me finish by thanking all those who have assisted me and my staff through the year - from hosting me when visiting your region to answering curly research questions. It has been a very rewarding year, one which I have enjoyed immensely.
I wish everyone Season’s Greetings and best wishes for 2010.