Water Journal : Water Journal August 2013
(unabated) greenhouse emissions of the Sydney desalination plant in 2012, a number so large that, as with many large desalination facilities in Australia, it has been a political necessity to offset the emissions with renewable energy certi cates since startup. WHERE TO FROM HERE? In this context, regulating the spread of AWGs might be reasonable. Given enough time and prodding, the Government's Equipment Energy Ef ciency Program might be extended to of ce water coolers. Perhaps a Minimum Energy Performance Standard could be created under the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards legislation -- one way of banning AWGs. In the meantime, the only regulatory lever available is the carbon pricing legislation. If we do a little maths using the original $23/tonne cost of carbon, assuming this is passed from power generators through to consumers, this presents a nancial disincentive of between $25 and $46 per annum for owners of water coolers to avoid the switch to AWGs. To implement this, the government's legislation creates the administrative work of interacting with about 300 major greenhouse emitters. On the other hand, there is no mention of AWGs in the opposition's policy, nor is it easy to see how an equivalent incentive could be practically and ef ciently distributed as "direct action" subsidies to 150,000 water cooler owners. So big fans of small government ought to be big fans of economic instruments to mitigate greenhouse emissions. Environmental engineers would call the AWG an inef cient use of resources, but it is one of many pieces of energy-using equipment that currently lack any regulatory intervention other than that provided by the price on carbon. The alternative of delivering direct subsidies to equipment users would provide employment for a new army of government bureaucrats, while avoiding the issue has natural resource consequences independent of any contribution to climate change, on account of the energy-water nexus. It seems if you are a conservative who wants to conserve water, there are chilling reasons to favour a carbon tax. Disclaimer: The author is not a member of any political party. The research was funded by a $250 grant for measuring equipment from the University of New South Wales. Most of the effort was volunteered by honours thesis students. WJ *At time of writing, the carbon tax was being reviewed by the Labor Government in favour of an Emissions Trading Scheme. REFERENCE Peters GM, Blackburn NJ & Armedion M (2013): Environmental Assessment of Air to Water Machines -- Triangulation in the Presence of Scope Uncertainty. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 18, pp 1149--1157. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Associate Professor Greg Peters (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) is based at Chalmers University of Technology and is a Visiting Fellow at the UNSW School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
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