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Professor Samantha Hepburn addresses the Japan-Australia Dialogue on Energy Policy and Regulation.

The importance of a nation-wide cooperative approach to renewable energy was the topic of Professor Samantha Hepburn’s presentation at the recent Japan-Australia Dialogue on Energy Policy and Regulation held in Tokyo.

Director of Deakin’s Centre for Energy and Natural Resources Law (CENRL), Prof. Hepburn was among a line-up of global energy experts examining range of issues from Japan’s progress post-Fukushima to the experience and policies of Australia and the United States.

‘The workshop was a fantastic opportunity to also hear from the Ministry of Environment in Japan regarding the shift to renewable energy production and the increased focus upon coal-fired electricity rather than nuclear,’ said Professor Hepburn. 

With a number of Australian academics and industry representatives discussing the transitioning environment in Australia, Professor Hepburn’s presentation focused on the importance of “cooperative federalism” between federal and state governments in policy and regulation towards renewable energy development. 

‘Support and collaboration between state and federal governments is difficult,’ she explained. ‘The Australian energy system needs more flexibility in generation and access to transmission, more consumer options and a continuous and adequate supply of electricity.’

Outlining Australia’s state and regulatory frameworks and renewable energy targets she stated that challenge has large devolved federal and state governments and is now mired in political obstructions.

‘How can energy regulation create more effectively multi-level governance structures to respond to Australia’s increasing demand for cheap, clean and reliable electricity as technology changes and as customers demand more sustainable energy solutions? This governance concern creates an important federalism challenge.’

Professor Hepburn concluded her presentation by explaining that successful climate change mitigation requires a ‘timely decarbonisation of the electricity sector’, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions

‘Accelerating renewables within this context is critical, as is supporting fossil fuel transition. Cooperative federalism will form an important part of this process.’

Other presenters at the Japan-Australia Dialogue on Energy Policy and Regulation included: