The Australian Labor Party appears to have done a rapid back-flip on its renewable energy backflip, with leader Bill Shorten insisting that Labor remains committed to 50 per cent renewable energy by 2050.
In a Facebook post where Shorten found the words that eluded him on an ABC radio interview last week, the leader of the federal Opposition said it was clear that renewable energy was a cleaner and cheaper alternative to new coal-fired power stations.
“We are absolutely committed to seeing 50 per cent of our energy mix coming from renewables by 2030. That’s our target, and we’re sticking to it,” Shorten wrote.
“More renewable energy means more jobs, lower power prices and less pollution. The old coal-fired power stations are starting to shut down and we need to replace it with new energy sources. Renewables is the answer – it’s not just cleaner than coal, it’s a lot cheaper too.
“Our renewables target won’t hurt the budget, but it will boost private investment in Australia by nearly $50 billion. It will push down power bills and create nearly 30,000 new jobs.”
That posting followed Shorten’s inability to prosecute that very argument in the radio interview, which then led to treasury spokesman Chris Bowen and climate spokesman Mark Butler back-tracking from the 50 per cent target, saying it was an “aspiration” rather than a goal.
That, and the apparent embrace of an emissions trading scheme as its principal policy mechanism, provoked a backlash from within and without the ALP, prompting the leadership to recognise that holding strong on renewables was a better response to the Coalition’s clean coal push.
As Shorten now points out, after failing to do so last week, renewable energy offers cleaner and cheaper energy future, and is also backed by the science and public polling.
Still, it remains unclear how Labor will reach that target. It was always considered unlikely that it would extend the current RET, but additional policy mechanisms will be needed.
Labor has embraced an emissions trading scheme, even though the modelling for the scheme shows a 50 per cent renewable energy target to be a cheaper option, and that an EIS on its own would result in little or no new wind and solar from 2020 to 2030.