Sep 10, 2014 - 12:01pm
A bipartisan approach to decarbonising Australia’s electricity sector with a goal of at least a 50 per cent cleaner power supply by 2030 needs to be central to discussions around the Renewable Energy Target, The Climate Institute said today.
“Both major parties accept the international goal of working to avoid 2°C warming but neither has yet accepted that this requires a longer term decarbonisaton goal,” said Erwin Jackson, Deputy CEO of The Climate Institute.
“Australia’s energy policy debate has been in a stalemate with a short-term fixation to 2020, when all parties should look much further ahead.”
Analysis by The Climate Institute finds that the power supply needs to be at least 50 per cent cleaner by 2030, but that without a clear, stable policy signal to guide investment, the power sector risks remaining in a stalemate. (See Figure 1.)
“The Renewable Energy Target is a critical but insufficient tool to put Australia’s electricity sector on a path to decarbonisation. Australia also needs to deal with the fact that it has a badly aging and polluting power fleet,” said Jackson.
“By just focusing on the 2020 Renewable Energy Target, the political debate is ignoring scientific and international realities. To position our economy for the inevitable transition to clean power, we need a clear bipartisan supported goal to decarbonise the electricity sector.”
“Failure to deliver this risks institutionalising uncertainty as the policy will need to reviewed again and again while climate impacts continue to hit home and the world continues to accelerate renewable energy investment. Stable and effective policy needs to be developed not for the next five years, but for the next 50 years.”
“Any long-term solution to Australia’s electricity sector challenges will require strong growth in renewable energy investment to 2020, 2030 and beyond. It will also require the exit of aging and high polluting coal generators from the electricity market. Approaches such as voluntary funds for closure of coal plants are insufficient.”
“Like the USA, Canada, the UK and China, we need clear regulatory interventions to ensure the timely exit of our old coal plants. Without regulatory approaches to closure, coal generators will sit idle in the electricity market waiting for a chance to come back on line and this will inhibit investment in clean energy alternatives,” concluded Jackson.
For more information about the Renewable Energy Target, please visit http://climateinstitute.org.au/news/renewable-energy-target.html
For more information
Kristina Stefanova | Communications Director, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299