RET negotiations need to help decarbonise, not recarbonise, the electricity sector Media Release

Dec 18, 2014 - 11:03am

Any adjustments to the Renewable Energy Target need to strengthen rather than weaken its ability to help drive the sustained decarbonisation of the electricity sector, said The Climate Institute today.

“The Renewable Energy Target isn’t just about increasing the share of renewables by 2020,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute. “Negotiations on the target need to consider Australia’s need to clean up, or decarbonise, our power sector.”

“In the absence of a broad limit and price on carbon, the RET is the central measure for decarbonising Australia’s power supply.”

As agreed at the Lima climate summit last week, the key international benchmark of domestic action is whether it is a “fair and ambitious” contribution to limiting global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures. For Australia, this would require the carbon intensity of electricity to fall by at least half by 2030 and total decarbonisation before 2050.

“Any deal struck on the RET needs to strengthen, rather than weaken, the scheme’s ability to progressively decarbonise Australian electricity.”

“A strong and growing renewable energy sector is a necessary but not sufficient part of cleaning up our power system.”

Any bipartisan agreement should include:

  1. Extending the RET’s annual targets beyond 2020 on a trajectory consistent with industry stability and greater emission reduction than would be achieved under the current legislated RET;
  2. Reducing the frequency and scope of RET reviews, so that the industry isn’t paralysed every two years by yet another review; and
  3. A complementary measure to drive market exit of ageing, high-polluting power stations.

Connor said: “Proposals to exempt emissions intensive trade exposed industries don’t necessarily hinder the climate effectiveness of the policy, but they do shift the costs to consumers.”

“Estimates of cost impacts are marginal, but blanket exemptions should at the very least be subject to regular review by bodies such as the Climate Change Authority.”

“Complementing the RET with a well planned closure program of old, inefficient coal stations will improve the investment environment for the whole power sector and enable the decarbonisation we need.”

“Importantly, this needs to ensure that affected workers and communities get the support and preparation they need for a stable and fair transition.”

“The repeal of the limit and price on carbon pollution has seen emissions rise from the National Electricity Market. We need policies that decarbonise, not recarbonise, our power sector,” concluded Connor.

For more information

Kristina Stefanova, Communications Director, 02 8239 6299

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