AUSTRALIA is lagging behind other developed countries in energy efficiency, despite some examples being set by individual businesses, an international conference in Sydney has been told.
The $45 billion earmarked for new ''poles and wires'' infrastructure around Australia was the main driver of an expected 90 per cent rise in household electricity prices between 2008 and 2014, rather than the carbon price, delegates heard yesterday.
The Australian Alliance to Save Energy, a non-profit group that hosted the conference along with the University of Technology's institute for sustainable futures, said the key priority should be reforming electricity industry regulation to focus on minimising peak demand.
''Like all reforms, there will always be entrenched business models to overcome and vested interests at play,'' the energy alliance chairman, Jon Jutsen, said.
Some large organisations stood out for strong performances in efficiency and carbon offsets, however.
Among the best was Sydney Water, which was on track to become completely ''carbon neutral'' within eight years. It will cancel out about a million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year by planting trees and building wind turbines, cutting its energy use by up to 40 per cent and buying renewable energy.
Many of the groups at the conference are part of Earth Hour, the annual event that encourages efficient use of resources. It takes place at 8.30pm on March 31 and is supported by Fairfax Media, publisher of the Herald.
Find out more at wwf.org.au