Kneecapping the RET is a bad call: it hurts our future prosperity and makes climate goals even harder to attain Media Release

Aug 28, 2014 - 4:38pm

Cutting renewable energy investment off at the knees would entrench fossil fuel subsidies, endanger our growing clean energy industry, and blow another hole in the government’s climate policy, The Climate Institute said today in response to the Warburton Renewable Energy Target Review.

“The Warburton Review would kneecap Australia’s energy and climate policies. It turns a blind eye to our massive fossil fuel subsidies and longer term climate change objectives. And it ignores the growing global action on clean energy investment and climate change,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute.

“The Renewable Energy Target has been a bipartisan policy that helps clean up our electricity sector and build our nation’s renewable energy industry. Both these objectives are vital – they help avoid dangerous climate change and position Australia to prosper in a world moving to clean energy sources.”

“If the government accepts the changes proposed by the Warburton Review, it would see Australia increase the amount of coal in our generation mix effectively re-carbonising, rather than de-carbonising our electricity.”

“Over 140 countries now have policies encouraging the growth of clean energy, including countries with dormant energy demand. For instance, the US government projects that over the next five years nearly half of new power generation will be from renewables, even as the US closes coal generation equivalent to Australia entire coal fleet.”

“The recent repeal of the carbon laws, the question mark over the future of the Renewable Energy Target, and the failure to deal with subsidies to coal and gas fired electricity, are all symptoms of an energy policy unfit to deal with its unavoidable decarbonisation challenge.”

“As the Review highlights, the primary beneficiaries of reducing renewable energy are the generators of coal-fired electricity. The economic costs the Review highlights ignore existing market distorting subsidies for fossil fuel plants and give no consideration to the long-term strategic role that renewable energy will play in reducing the costs of climate change.”

The International Monetary Fund has calculated that post-tax subsides, including health and other impacts, mean that Australia subsidises oil, coal and gas to a tune of over $23 billion a year. This subsidy dwarfs the current support to clean energy of around $2 billion per year.

Connor added: “Stopping the RET also makes the Government’s overall 2020 and post 2020 emissions reduction goals harder. By losing the pollution reduction efforts of the RET, taxpayers will have to fork out more than three quarters of a billion dollars extra as a result.”

“The RET’s success in mobilising investment in clean energy should be maintained and the need to decarbonise our energy system acknowledged. The RET should be complemented with broader policy to ensure the timely exit of Australia’s most polluting coal power stations. Without these two elements our electricity sector will stagnate and our economy will become increasingly vulnerable to the relentless global drive towards clean energy.”

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For more information
Kristina Stefanova | Communications Director, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299

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