Abbott lays out RET ultimatum as climate denialism deepens | RenewEconomy

Abbott lays out RET ultimatum as climate denialism deepens

Macfarlane and Hunt tell industry to agree to big cut in renewables target, or else. They might get away with it because there are signs of divisions within clean energy industry. Meanwhile, Abbott government ridiculed over abatement targets and invitation to climate contrarian Bjorn Lomborg.


parliament house

The Abbott government on Monday laid out another ultimatum on the clean energy industry to accept a much reduced renewable energy target – or else – as it continued its farcical claims that its Direct Action fund could address Australia’s emissions reduction target.

Industry minister Ian Macfarlane and environment minister Greg Hunt called yet another meeting of representatives from the renewable energy industry, the aluminium industry, unions and the incumbent fossil fuel industry (the big three retailers) to a meeting in Canberra.

Attendees at the hour-long meeting in parliament house were told again – contrary to some expectations of an improved offer – that the government’s position was a “take it or leave it” offer of 32,000GWh, a cut from the current large scale target of 41,000GWh.

The government is refusing to even concede that this is a cut, with Hunt arguing that – with the addition of an expected 13,400GWh of rooftop solar – this would amount to 23 per cent renewables by 2020 – which he claims is well beyond the Coalition’s commitment to a 20 per cent renewable energy target.

(Hunt last week castigated RenewEconomy’s 10 biggest renewable energy whoppers story, which pointed out that Abbott, Hunt and others had promised no changes to the RET. Hunt protested that we should have focused more on his obfuscations when he deliberately avoided hard numbers and said only that the Coalition supported “20 per cent” renewables).

The renewables industry is aghast because a new target of 32,000GWh for large scale renewables will effectively cut the task in hand by more than one third. It will mean that instead of 25,000GWh being added in the next five years, only 16,000GWh of large scale wind or solar will be built.

Labor has described the 32,000GWh offer as “unacceptable”, and has drawn the line at 35,000GWh, with a preference for the high 30,000GWhs. But Macfarlane and Hunt are now threatening to go around Labor and seek a deal with cross-benchers. They told the meeting on Monday that they could strike a deal with “seven of the eight” cross benchers.

This is not believed, because those cross benchers who would accept a deal are more interested in putting a stop to wind energy, and encourage other technologies like solar, something that this proposal would fail to do. But it is a moot point anyway. The purpose of the meeting with industry on Monday was to underline that scenario, and to try and convince the clean energy industry to get Labor to negotiate below their 35,000GWh target.

And there are signs that there are divisions within the clean energy industry. Some with cheaper shovel-ready wind projects appear ready to accept a reduced deal because it means at least their projects will get built. Others – developers of second tier wind projects and large scale solar projects – want to hold out for a higher target, and a time extension.

Indeed, it highlights one of the long-accepted weaknesses of the clean energy industry in Australia. While their opposition, in the form of vested interests in the coal industry and deep ideological opposition to renewables, are united, the clean energy industry is split with different technologies at different stages of the cost curve.

But all are sidelined by policy uncertainty. This will be one of the key weeks for the industry, knowing that failure to get agreement now could push a resolution out beyond the mid-year.

This came as The Climate Council released a report highlighting the massive growth in the renewable energy industry world-wide, as the same time as the industry was contracting in Australia.

“In Australia, the renewable energy industry is in free fall,” the report said. “Investment has dropped by 88 per cent due to policy uncertainty.” Yet this occurred as 800,000 renewable energy jobs were created around the world in 2012/13, while in Australia the jobs numbers fell 13 per cent as the large scale sector effectively came to a halt.

Meanwhile, 22 environmental, social, religious, youth, health and renewable organisations wrote to the the Prime Minister calling him to step in and endorse the current renewable energy target of 41,000GWh.

“The Prime Minister promised Australians he would maintain the existing Renewable Energy Target and he must stick to his word,” Australian Solar Council chief executive John Grimes said. “Tony Abbott should step in and stop his Government taking a wrecking ball to renewable energy.”

WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman described it as a “pivotal moment” for Australia.

“The rest of the world is turning to renewable energy. We should be getting on board with this global momentum, supporting this industry, not going backwards.”

The events in Canberra came as Hunt released new data that showed Australia’s emission reduction task to 2020 is much reduced – now 236 million tonnes – a figure that he argued showed that there was no need for a carbon price.

However, the data was rejected by independent groups, who said there was no surprise in the new figures. Instead, it confirmed that Australia’s emissions were rising and that the Emissions Reduction Fund would have to achieve a “ridiculously low” price for abatement in the next five years, let alone find the funds to meet more ambitious targets in the future.

Greens leader Christine Milne said the Abbott government’s global warming denial was on full display, given the new data and its renewed attempts to slash the renewables target.

“The depth of this government’s denial is alarming,” Milne said in a statement. “They’re condemning Australia to economic dislocation, to being way behind the rest of the word, and to making life harder and more dangerous for everyone in our region, as extreme fires and storms intensify.

“Today we’ve got the Environment Minister doing dodgy accounting to say he’s going to meet a truly pathetic emissions reduction target, we’ve got Minister Macfarlane hosting industry reps to push his huge cut to the Renewable Energy Target, and we’ve got Julie Bishop bringing in a climate policy sceptic to talk to staff about delivering better foreign aid.”

(The latter is a reference to the invitation to Bjorn Lomborg, a “climate contrarian” that Bishop describes as a “creative thinker” to address staff on foreign aid strategies).

“If you’re going to help our Pacific island neighbours, you have to acknowledge that they are already suffering the impacts of climate change,” Milne said. “Vanuatu’s president said so himself. The Abbott government needs to stop its obfuscation and get real.

“The independent Climate Change Authority says we need to be cutting emissions 40 to 60% by 2030, but Greg Hunt’s response is to just kick back, put up his feet and prop up coal, because we might get to 5% by 2020,” she said, noting that this reduction even included a significant credit from Australia’s generous Kyoto agreement, which allowed for a rise in emissions.


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  1. Keith 6 years ago

    Let them dance in denial. China, the US, India, Europe, Oceania are all getting on with it.

    It can’t be long before they need to fold on this one too, although I confess to being astounded about how long they are taking before they pull their heads in about cutting pensions… a certain election loser.

    • Barri Mundee 6 years ago

      For the moment Abbott and his regime have the whip hand. I think they will ultimately fail to stem the widespread adoption of renewables in this country but not before many opportunities are lost.

  2. mike flanagan 6 years ago

    Lomborg is climate change fraud, dependent on fossil fuel corporate handouts, not a ‘contrarian’.

    • Keith 6 years ago

      At least the LNP are consistent about their friends. I heard Lomborg telling porkies on the ABC …. 2% renewables by 2030? Which universe is he inhabiting?

      My surprise is that he gets away with such barefaced lies. Maybe it is because he is so confident about the nonsense he spouts.

      • Miles Harding 6 years ago

        Lomborg is an incarnation of Schrodinger’s cat: The paradoxes are observed by attempting to logically connect his statements.

        The latest on the ABC has been the set of statements that
        a) greenhouse gases and global warming is a serious problem and
        b) that the best way to lift the world’s poor out of poverty is via fossil fuels and
        c) that subsidies should be wound back completely. (I think that was on the ABC)

        The comment on the poor is nonsense in itself. The sort of recurrent expense that fossil fuels will bring will guarantee continued poverty.

        • Blair Donaldson 6 years ago

          Lomborg might wind up like the cat and succeed in getting himself fixed if he continues to play both sides against the middle.

          It’s time the ABC stopped playing the false balance game.

          • wideEyedPupil 6 years ago

            They re-broadcast that from the 2013 Creative Innovations conference. But I agree was woeful and so was Dr Finkel. No wonder ClimateWorks (a Monash Uni Energy consultancy) get away with promoting “clean transition fuel gas” and other dodginess.

      • wideEyedPupil 6 years ago

        Yeah and he shared the stage at that conference with the chancellor of Monash University, Dr Alan Finkel who took the opportunity to agree with Lomborg rather than take him down. Dr Finkel presented so really dodgy stats about Australia’s GHG emissions of his own from what I recall.

  3. Blair Donaldson 6 years ago

    Could state-based RET programs circumvent Hunt and Macfarlane’s latest round of bastardry? Amazing how cheaply Greg Hunt sold his tattered credibility for. Political power at any cost apparently.

    • mike flanagan 6 years ago

      True Blair. The Vic Enviro Minister did have something to say on RET, and combined state based ETS, prior to the State election, but I suspect their success hinges on the NSW election results to gain critical mass and effectiveness.

      • Blair Donaldson 6 years ago

        Surely if South Australia can have a policy of increasing their state-based RET to 40% or higher? The Victorian government should be able to follow suit.

    • Lane Crockett 6 years ago

      Unfortunately the federal legislation doesn’t allow states to cut across the RET, so states are not allowed to set their own mandatory targets. However, as Mike suggests the states could restart an ETS which would be very significant.

      • Giles 6 years ago

        HI Lane. Does that mean Qld’s proposed 50% target by 2030 is moot? And S.A’s 50% by 2025. Just aspirational? And how does ACT get away with a 90% target – or is it because they just a territory?

        • Chris Fraser 6 years ago

          I hope Lane has been misinformed. Certainly a State cannot treat the National Rec Registry as its own. But it appears s51 Federal Constitution does not ban a State from starting up its own Registry. I think also possible for States to develop Rec trade agreements with other complying States.

        • Lane Crockett 6 years ago

          I understand that a state based scheme would be legally complex because the national scheme states a “corporation need not comply with any other law of a State that substantially corresponds to this Act”. However I suggest if you want to delve into this you should get legal advice…

        • Alastair Leith 6 years ago

          The ACT is using Contracts for Difference (as is UK recently) and reverse auctioning the contracts. The way Dylan McConnell explained it to me (hope I got this right) is that because this is a substantially different mechanism to the RET certificates legislation it’s not constitutionally in question by way of state duplication of Federal legislation.

          Also he explained some other advantages CfD has over RETs for both Governments and for RE developers. One advantage for Governments is that if power prices were to rise significantly over the contracted period, beyond the Strike Price, a Wind project could be paying the Government a subsidy on it’s power rather than the other way around. Whereas RE project developers get a full pricing contract and more certainty. I’m sure others can explain it better than me though.

  4. Jason 6 years ago

    this is now beyond a joke … the anti science and denial ism is now utterly criminal in its irresponsibility …

    • nigelf 6 years ago

      Yes, how the global warming scam ever got this far shows how uneducated our society has become.

      • Jason 6 years ago

        have a thesis. You’re a total moron. The evidence is clear because I believe it . i will not accept any evidence that contradict my thesis no matter how compelling… I will NEVER change my mind. Ever.

        • nigelf 6 years ago

          You got the last part right. Evidence shows the effect of CO2 on retaining heat is way too high therefore all the climate models are wrong. The evidence is the lack of warming the last eighteen years despite rising CO2 levels. None of the models predicted this.
          But seeing as you will never change your mind I guess it’s you who is in denial.

          • Alexander Dudley 6 years ago

            “lack of warming the last eighteen years despite rising CO2 levels”. Drinking the Murdoch Kool-aid I see. (I can’t believe I’m feeding a troll- but seriously…).

          • nigelf 6 years ago

            Don’t blame me, it’s in the IPCC report and also many climate scientists have said so.
            Why do you think there’s so many excuses for the pause?

          • Blair Donaldson 6 years ago

            Well if it’s all rubbish, what are you doing wasting your time bitching here?

          • Jerom Klein Thring 6 years ago

            NO nigelf you are the only one in denial, you need to reeducate yourself fool

          • nigelf 6 years ago

            Such virulent name-calling!
            C’mon guys is that all you’ve got?

          • Blair Donaldson 6 years ago

            Notably you have failed to provide any evidence to support your denial of reality. You are just here to troll. Go and play with your brethren in some conspiracy group/page.

            This site is for adults.

          • nigelf 6 years ago

            Until you can override the null hypothesis with some facts instead of dodgy and fallible computer models, the null hypothesis will continue to stand. Irregardless of whether you like it or not.
            You’re certainly welcome to try and prove that man was responsible for the warming we had that stopped eighteen years ago, it would be welcomed with open arms as long as it adhered to the scientific method.
            Come back when you have some evidence with all the data, software algorithms, error bars, that kind of stuff that the whole scientific community can use to reproduce your experiment. If it can pass muster you will be remembered for doing good work.

          • Blair Donaldson 6 years ago

            The “null hypothesis”? larf – somebody has picked up a buzz phrase to try and sound informed.

            The fact is, no amount of evidence changes the mind of the denialist, climate change denialists, creationists, anti-vaccers and conspiracy theorists all use the same intellectually bankrupt justifications. Deny, cherry pick, strawman – anything but actually think objectively about the subject under discussion. So long as you forfeit the right to be honest with yourself, don’t expect others to respect you or your blind belief.

            So much for the warming pause…


          • nigelf 6 years ago

            Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
            You have zero evidence and outlandish claims. It’s up to you to come up with the extraordinary evidence, not me to refute your claims.

          • Blair Donaldson 6 years ago

            Okay, I get it, you’re in denial. You’re missing the point that you’re the one making the extraordinary claim. I.e. that mankind is having no effect on the planet.

            If you took your head out of the sand, you would discover abundant evidence that says we are affecting the climate and much else. Whether you want to measure it by CO2 in the atmosphere, increasing salinity in soils, increasing acidity of the oceans, sealevel increases, vegetation changes, changes to migration times, marine species appearing in new environments, saltwater inundation, increases in extreme weather, increased numbers of high temperature extremes and fewer instances of extreme cold events to name just some.

            You haven’t provided a single piece of evidence from any scientific organisation to justify any of your claims. Your various comments just make you sound ignorant and uninformed. Troll somewhere else.

          • nigelf 6 years ago

            How could I have been so stupid! Blair Donaldson just turned the null hypothesis upside down and I’m too dumb to get it!!

            Keep bowing down to the Religion of Earth if you like, just stay out of my pocket and politics and leave us sane people out of your grandiose delusions.

          • Blair Donaldson 6 years ago

            You’re the clown denying the evidence and demonstrating your less than informed commentary is more about ideology them anything based on evidence. Feel free to continue nitpicking so more people can see how removed from reality you really are.

            Meanwhile, others might enjoy this link showing the 50 main subject areas pointing to AGW.


          • nigelf 6 years ago

            You are outright delusional. I certainly can’t help you and I doubt anyone else can.
            Enjoy your miserable life while I enjoy mine.

          • Blair Donaldson 6 years ago

            There is plenty of evidence but you choose to ignore it. You’re the one lacking any credible evidence supporting your denialist fantasies. You haven’t provided a single credible link from any reputable science organisation that supports your case, just for starters.

          • nigelf 6 years ago

            If you were versed in this whole discussion you would know very well the science, i shouldn’t have to link it to you. If you do know it, you’re denying it. if you don’t know it, then you shouldn’t be here arguing.

          • Blair Donaldson 6 years ago

            What a copout. Trying to hide your ignorance with more of your precious strawmaning. The link I provided shows that unlike you, I am interested in finding out the details. You prefer ignorance and ideology. If you’re not already, you’d be a great shill for the fossil fuel industry. They seem to reward the blind allegiance you demonstrate. Why are you an apologist for a multibillion-dollar industry that has been denying science for 30 years?

          • nigelf 6 years ago

            I’m certainly not an apologist for fossil fuels, I just see the plain reality that they are a wonderful thing that benefits mankind greatly, far outweighing any downside.

            If you had an ounce credibility you would immediately swear off their use forever but you won’t because their benefit to you personally outweighs any downside. That’s what the rest of the world thinks including me. So until you openly renounce forever the use of fossil fuels you are a hypocrite who should be ignored, just like everyone else in the AGW fad-of-the-day movement. The proponents of this crap theory have the biggest carbon footprints of all. If you’re not willing to put your own skin in the game then you really don’t believe in the cause at all.
            For your next post, enlighten us all here how your newly aquired subsistence lifestyle is going now that you’ve become aware of the rank hypocrisy of railing against fossil fuels while using them daily for your benefit like everyone else.
            We all wait with bated breath for this revelation.

          • Blair Donaldson 6 years ago

            You really do your strawmen well, you’ve obviously had plenty of practice. I guess it makes up for your lack of honesty and evidence.

            I have never claimed anybody should cease using fossil fuels immediately, I have only argued that we should transition to renewables as soon as possible. There is no contradiction even if you choose to try and make one.

            You haven’t made a single original statement, so far everything you have said is just regurgitated denialist rubbish.

            There are plenty of people around the planet living a very comfortable lifestyle using only renewables. Clearly you don’t want to know about them because it makes your childish rants look even more ill informed.

            Your antiscience rhetoric is quite comical considering you use the products of science to post your idiocy.

          • nigelf 6 years ago

            Then why aren’t you one of those ” living a very comfortable lifestyle using only renewables”? You won’t walk the talk, that’s why.
            And why is it so important to transfer to renewables as soon as possible? If transfering to renewables is the answer then it will only happen when it’s ready, not by force. Cities were being buried in horse crap at the start of the twentieth century. That was an environmental crisis for sure. But then the gas powered car came along and was swiftly taken up by the people and that crisis was solved. And coercion or force wasn’t needed to get people off their horses. Or subsidies or public bullying or calling horse drivers horsecrap deniers.
            We have tons of fossil fuels left and they work wonderfully and they aren’t going away or won’t be left in the ground, no matter how much you’d like to wave your magic wand and make it so. So you might as well keep enjoying our modern lifestyle without any guilt with the knowledge that eventually something cleaner and better will come along, as it always has. History tells us that this will happen, just like it has before.
            As far as calling me a denier, I only deny that the warming we had going until eighteen years ago is, or will be, catastrophic. History again tells us that CO2 levels were tens of times higher than today and there wasn’t any runaway positive feedbacks. Co2 is a minor bit-player in the climate. As soon as you can admit that reality then you can calm down and worry about things that matter.

          • Jerom Klein Thring 6 years ago

            You are a brainwashed lame stream loser who defends billion dollar energy companies who have financed the climate change denial argument for 30 years, and even with growing evidence you still defend your ignorant views that climate change isn’t man made with obscure irrational “facts”, Co2 emission are have a serious effect on the planet right now. watch this you fool , you have adopted lies and made them truths , the truth is staring us in the face, WAKE UP .
            The Koch Brothers: Fake It Till You Make It

          • Jason 6 years ago

            Try to keep up…. The oceans are absorbing the heat. there has been no pause only a slowing of the rate of increase. Remember there is NO LINK between smoking and lung cancer. … I’m sorry the evidence is clear. The data is in…. unfortunately you’re a moron.

          • nigelf 6 years ago

            Yep, the data is in for sure and you’re ignoring it.

          • Jason 6 years ago

            okay- james balog set up the Extreme Ice Survey comprising 27 cameras on 18 glaciers all over the world. the footage is shocking- all glaciers have retreated; in some cases many km’s! So there it is observable real world data, NOT computer models – your brain might just blow up when you realize that you are WRONG- Since you might have noticed that not one credible hypothesis on the denial side can explain the OBSERVABLE facts. Just keep telling yourself there is no link between smoking and cancer ….keep going — i think there is a big pile of sand just over there, perfect place to bury your head …

          • nigelf 6 years ago

            Two centuries before Balog some glaciers retreated many kilometers, this is nothing new. Look up some earth history and see how our world made remarkable changes without mankinds input.
            Nothing that’s happening today hasn’t happened before, that’s why Paleontologists and Geologists overwhelmingly reject the AGW hypothesis.
            There’s more to the earth than this little sliver we’re currently living in.

          • Jason 6 years ago

            Logic fallacies

            Error Of Fact:
            for example, “No one knows how old the Pyramids of Egypt are.” (Except, of course, for the historians who’ve read records and letters written by the ancient Egyptians themselves.)
            Typically, the presence of one error means that there are other errors to be uncovered.
            Argument From Personal Astonishment:
            Errors of Fact caused by stating offhand opinions as proven facts. (The speaker’s thought process being “I don’t see how this is possible, so it isn’t.”) An example from Creationism is given here.
            This isn’t lying, quite. It just seems that way to people who know more about the subject than the speaker does.

          • nigelf 6 years ago

            The glaciers have been retreating since the end of the last ice age. Sea levels have gone up hundreds of meters since then. Are you implying that since we now inhabit the earth in large numbers that all of a sudden this is our fault that they’re still retreating?
            The arrogance, it burns.

          • Jason 6 years ago

            You’re logic is flawed. you have no alternative thesis To explain what is happening TODAY not hundreds of years ago You have no data . .. you have nothing!

          • nigelf 6 years ago

            I’ll keep it real simple for you.
            It was warm back then…warm enough to make glaciers retreat rather quickly. It’s still warm…warm enough to make glaciers retreat quickly.
            Only a fool would try and say that the earlier retreat was all natural and the retreat now is all mankind.
            Go ahead and prove me right…

  5. Miles Harding 6 years ago

    Like so many of the LNP government’s other (crap) policies, this one deserves to be fed to the senate shredder. It will set nicely with with US free trade agreement (ISDS yeay) and the data retention (does Orwell proud) acts.

  6. DogzOwn 6 years ago

    When will Coal-ition be asking for PPE expressions of interest to replace 40+ year old coal fired dinosaur power stations? As with LRET, will they commit to bidders they can bank on consumption of absolute number of TWh? Will they then change to reduced % rubbery figure other than TWh? Will they commit, with any reliability, to anything? Isn’t it time for them to be committed, straitjacket and all?

  7. DogzOwn 6 years ago

    Lomborg recommending cut subsidies to fossil fuel industry was on ABC Breakfast. Of course, it’s safe for him to say, since fossil sources provide his well being, especially considering how well he knows that governments are now so gutless. For transnational corporations, look out for Smugly Joe to give them even more tax cuts, essential for “strong economy”, so that we can afford even less.

  8. Coley 6 years ago

    It’s a shame that a country like Australia, which could be leading the world in the development of PV, is led by such a bunch of coprolites.

  9. Cartoonmick 6 years ago

    I can’t understand why people bog down and argue over details, when there’s a very simple pollution solution, as depicted in this cartoon . . . .


  10. Rob G 6 years ago

    Time for some of their own medicine, Labor need to place a deadline on their minimum offer. When the time expires they increase the target and put a new deadline on that, and so on. And all the while they say ‘take or leave it’.

  11. david_fta 6 years ago

    MAybe we shouldn’t get too uptight about this reduced RET; after all, it’s not as if any of this mob are going to be in Parliament after the next election, so the RET can be changed back to something more realistic.

    • wideEyedPupil 6 years ago

      No certainties about how low the Australian public will be taken in a race for votes. Just look at how racism is now a vote winner thanks to Howard’s years in power.

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