COAG Energy Council outcome statement Statement

Aug 19, 2016 - 4:45pm

The COAG Energy Council was a missed opportunity to start developing a coherent approach to the transformation to a net zero emission energy sector. The initiatives announced by COAG are worthy but piecemeal. If COAG will not take a strategic approach, it’s now more important than ever that the national government does so. In the lead-up to the 2017 review of national climate policies the Minister urgently needs to set in train a comprehensive investigation into how the electricity system can deliver on security, affordability and net zero emissions before 2050.

The COAG communique notes that work on the integration of energy and climate policy will now also include consideration of the impacts of state and territory emission reduction policies. This is inadequate

In considering the impact of climate and clean energy developments on the electricity system, we need to think beyond the current 2030 emissions target to deliver a well-managed transition to zero emission electricity.

The objectives of the Paris Agreement are to limit global temperature rise to below 1.5-2C by reducing emissions to net zero or below. Starting in 2018, the Agreement's framework requires countries to progressively strengthen their targets every five years. So the current 2030 target of 28% is the absolute least that the sector could expect. Prudent policy-making needs to take into account the net zero objective and the best pathway towards it.

The number of uncertainties about future energy is multiplying. But policy uncertainty is well within governments' power to resolve.

Australia has committed internationally through the Paris Agreement to consider a long-term emissions goal through the 2017 climate policy review. This is an opportunity to provide businesses who are making 30 year investment decisions with clear signals on future policy direction.

One other certainty is that Australia's highest-carbon generators, our ageing coal burning power stations, will need to exit over the next 15-20 years if we are to deliver on our commitments. As we saw in South Australia, disorderly, unplanned closures can have bad consequences for the local community, energy users, and the stability of the market as a whole. An orderly transition, whereby 1-2 GW of coal capacity is withdrawn every year, with enough foresight and predictability for the right replacement energy services to be delivered at the right time and in the right place, is the best prospect for achieving our climate goals and a well-managed transformation of our power supply.

We urge the national government to set up a truly comprehensive and strategic review of the electricity system to work through these issues and integrate this with the 2017 review.

For further information contact: Olivia Kember, Head of Policy, 0431 615 522

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