Keep RET to decarbonise our electricity supply Media Release

Dec 22, 2014 - 3:44pm

The Climate Change Authority’s report into the Renewable Energy Target (RET) sensibly recommends no significant change, given that the RET is Australia’s central carbon emissions reduction tool amidst a global challenge to decarbonise electricity by 2050. 

The urgent need to significantly decarbonise the electricity sector within a few decades to meet the internationally agreed goal of avoiding 2°C warming should be a core objective for energy policy.  It is recognised by conservative bodies such as the International Energy Agency, IPCC, OECD, World Bank and IMF. The CCA’s approach in recognising the need to decarbonise the electricity sector stands in striking contrast to the Energy Green Paper, which ignores this need.

The CCA report notes that the emissions intensity of Australia’s electricity sector is higher than that of China and the rest of the OECD, and that renewable energy will play a major role in cleaning up our power sector. It notes the RET’s modest impact on consumers and that the benefits of slashing the RET will mostly flow to high-polluting brown and black coal power station operators.

The report notes that getting to the originally bipartisan-backed target of 41,000 GWh by 2020 remains technically feasible. but that financial feasibility is reduced. This is because investor confidence has been dashed by the Abbott Government’s post-election withdrawal of bipartisan support for the legislated RET, and particularly by the government’s preference for reducing the legislated target by over forty per cent. As such, the CCA’s recommendation that the time frame for achieving the target be slightly extended by up to three years, while noting the need for much stronger renewable energy efforts over future decades, is sensible.

Crucially, the CCA also recognises the need for Australian energy policy to face up to the need to close some of Australia’s ageing and high-polluting fossil fuel power stations:

"The retirement of some existing fossil fuel capacity would certainly make it easier to invest in new renewables or any other type of low-emissions plant. Ultimately, these new investments are essential if Australia is to transition to a low-emissions economy." ( p.35. )  

The Climate Institute calls on the government to step back from plans to dramatically reduce the RET and for both the government and the ALP to provide bipartisan support for renewable energy in Australia in recognition of the need to urgently decarbonise our energy sector.   

For more information

Kristina Stefanova, Communications Director, 02 8239 6299


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