Butler lambasts “pathetic” emissions target, “silly” pursuit of coal

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Labor’s Mark Butler has lambasts “pathetic” emissions target in National Energy Guarantee and “silly” pursuit of coal, as Greens and Victoria warn of no approval for NEG at CoAG meeting until after it is endorsed by Coalition party room.

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Opposition climate and energy spokesman Mark Butler has lambasted the federal Coalition government’s pathetic emissions target, its “silly” pursuit of new coal generators and promised a “furious” debate over climate policy in parliament.

In a speech to the Clean Energy Summit in Sydney on Tuesday, Butler said he supported a settled platform, such as the National Energy Guarantee, but warned that weak targets would be locked in.

“There is real risk that these pathetic settings will be embedded into federal law that proves very difficult to change in the future,” Butler said.

His comments came as Victoria’s energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio and Greens leader Richard di Natale warned there would be no approval for the NEG at next week’s CoAG energy ministers meeting if it was to be held hostage to a later Coalition party room meeting.

CoAG energy ministers are due to hold their meeting on August 10, but the Coalition government has indicated that emissions targets will not be discussed until another meeting held the following Tuesday, after a party room meeting. But it wants CoAG to commit support for the NEG on the Friday.

Di Natale said this ruse would not work. The Greens are playing a prominent role because the ACT climate and energy minister Shane Rattenbury is a Green, and has indicated he will not vote for the policy while emissions target remained so low.

“The Greens won’t sign up to the policy until and unless it is signed up by Coalition party room,” di Natale said. “That is the only way to be sure we are not signing a blind cheque.”

His position was echoed by Victoria’s energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio, who said the state Labor government “won’t rush into supporting a policy” just to appease the “coal ideologues” in Canberra

“Malcolm Turnbull is trying to get us to sign up to something that hasn’t gone to his own party room – a place full of climate sceptics,” D’Ambrosio said.

“Every time we get close to a national energy policy, the Coalition Party Room shoots it down. How can we have any confidence in what they’re asking from us if it hasn’t been through his party room first?

“We won’t support a scheme that leaves the states in the dark and leaves us all hostage to the extremists in Turnbull’s party room.”

The NEG has divided the clean energy industry, with the CEC saying it supported the platform, despite its reservations about emissions, and on other matters such as transparency, offsets, and questions about the impact on rooftop solar and storage.

The Smart Energy Council has opposed the NEG based on the weak target. Di Natale said: “Fight for the right policy., fight for a future where your industry thrives. The public knows renewables are the future, they know it will bring down pollution and it will bring down prices.”

Goldwind Australia’s John Titchen said the main issue with the NEG remained with the emissions policy, and left more than 90 per cent of the Paris climate task unaddressed.

“We should have steeper reductions in the first 5 years of 2020s …. then we would have options …  to deliver more reductions if, as expected, it is required.”

Earlier, Butler was dismissive of what had been described as an olive branch by energy minister Josh Frydenberg for a “review” of the 2025-2030 targets in 2024.

“That is hopeless. A 2024 review would be asking a question when we already have an answer from the ESB (Energy Security Board) paper. We already know it is hopeless inadequate.”

That target, a 26 per cent cut in electricity emissions by 2030, would be met before the scheme even started in 2021, and would mean electricity would account for just 40 million tonnes out of the 900 million tonnes required to be eliminated to meet the country’s Paris climate target.

“This wold put pressure on other sectors, where abatement was clearly more expensive.

“This target will smash investment in a (renewable energy) sector that is doing so many great things for the Australian economy, particularly in regions,” he said.

Butler lamented the “silly pursuit” of new coal-fired generators by many in the Coalition party room, and noted the Minerals Council-funded trip by MP George Christensen to Japan to dry and drum up support for new coal generators.

“Hopefully the silliness of the new coal ideologues will recede further and further into the party room,” he said.

NSW energy minister Don Harwin, a Liberal, said he believed the NEG will “get us toward” where we want to be, and looked forward to hosting the CoAG meeting in Sydney on August 10.

“I think there is goodwill. It is tremendously important … not to make the perfect the energy, sorry, the enemy of the good.”

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37 Comments
  1. GlennM 4 months ago

    The Coalition stalled RE for years by “indecision”. Now the “indecision” is working in the favour of RE. Therefore delay, parry, confuse, obfuscate is the best policy

    agree to nothing.

  2. Alistair Spong 4 months ago

    CEC appears to be betting that the legislation can be ammended down the track , someone needs to remind them that for this to happen the ALP needs a sympathetic Senate which is rare or the that Libs right wing faction will weaken on this issue which is also not likely to happen while the cash is on the table.
    Its time to make RE and climate change an election issue, an election won on a strong policy position is the only way to achieve a bipartisan path going forward.
    Lets have a clear mandate for RE and Climate policy. Thats the only way to weaken the hold the Right have on inaction

    • Joe 4 months ago

      What is that number again, 1.8 million households with rooftop solar. More joining the club all the time. The Greens will pump RE and Climate Change as a top order election issue but their voice is largely drowned out by the mainstream media focusing on the games between Labor and LNP. Yes, Labor needs to step up its game in making RE and Climate Change a focal point. With Mark Butler, the ALP seem to have an intelligent guy who is across the detail of the subject. All the solar households don’t need any extra convincing about the merits of RE and climate change. Why it is even an election issue here in Australia is rather dumbfounding when most of the world has gone way past debating, they are getting on with the job of ending FF and going RE.

  3. Brunel 4 months ago

    Some people say “the states should he abolished” but the opposite should happen – get the feds out of the electricity market and leave it to the states.

  4. bruce mountain 4 months ago

    Giles, Can you please clarify. A 2% reduction on circa 175 million tonnes CO2-e emissions from electricity is 3.8 million tonnes. Why then do you say 40 million tonnes reduction from electricity? Is this your typo or are you quoting the Shadow Minister? I am, aware that the ESB’s Final Design also makes this mistake.

    • Giles 4 months ago

      Isn’t it because a 26% reduction equates to 40 million tonnes, but because of the reductions achieved by RET etc, the NEG just delivers 2%, which is where 3.8 million comes from. Butler arguing that electricity sector can do a whole lot more.

      • bruce mountain 4 months ago

        Yes that sounds plausible. But to be clear, the NEG is being asked to do 3.8 million – which we all know will happen anyway – and it is misleading to even refer to reductions before the policy takes effect.

  5. Ren Stimpy 4 months ago

    All of NSW farming regions and half of Queensland’s are in the grip of severe drought, the third major drought in 15 years. The Great Barrier Reef has been hit with warm water bleaching and won’t have a chance to fully recover in this warming world.

    And yet today we learn that senior National Party minister Matt Canavan has sent junior National Party errand boy George Christensen on an errand to beg the Japanese government to build a coal power plant in Australia. Why do farmers vote for these coal mining industry pets? Can’t farmers put 2 and 2 together that these so-called farmers reps are worse than climate change denialists – they are actively seeking more climate change, more drought and more reef destruction.

    Canavan and Christensen are also actively seeking higher power prices, which is exactly what we would have if a new coal plant had any ambition whatsoever to recover such a massive investment, let alone make a profit.

    • Rod 4 months ago

      I’m not sure of their numbers but some Farmers can add it up.
      https://www.farmersforclimateaction.org.au/

      • Rebecca 4 months ago

        Thank you for the link, I have been signing Petitions for somtime for Q.L.D Farmer Angus Emmott & will continue. We have very few farmers in the National Party. Any farmer worth anything, knows he must protect his soil, & water supply. Yes the sooner Canavan, Barnaby Joyce are gone the better these men work for their own hip pocket.

        • Joe 4 months ago

          So why do the farmers and their communities keep on voting Nationals and returning the likes of Joyce, Coalavan election after election after election.

          • Rod 4 months ago

            In a word. “Townies”

          • Rebecca 4 months ago

            Hi Joe, Mine is not to reason why, Mine is too do or die. Joe all we can do is fight hopefully with continual reminders to farmer’s letting them know who actually work for them. And it’s not the LNP. Joyce just gotta go to the heartland & continue the fight. Canavan needs to go as well

          • MaxG 4 months ago

            Because they are stupid…

      • Joe 4 months ago

        Hi Rod, I think most framers do get it in respect of climate change. They are the ones feeling it first hand. Even The Farmers Federation have changed their thinking lately with the top lady Fiona speaking up . What I don’t get is how the farmers / farming communities keep voting The National Party. The National Party doesn’t believe in taking action on climate change, full of Deniers who want to burn FF endlessly. There seems to be a huge disconnect with The National Party not representing the farmers best interests on climate change and yet the farming community vote The Nationals…as the Red Headed bomb thrower famously asked, “please explain”.

        • Rebecca 4 months ago

          Joe, some media continually blames Q.L.D but think we socked it too them.

        • Barri Mundee 4 months ago

          You’d think there is a real opportunity for Labor and the Greens to prise country people away from their almost religious adherence to the Nationals. I think more progressive parties need to engage with country people.

          • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

            Absolutely time to move on from the Shearer’s Strike!

      • MaxG 4 months ago

        The don’t, as most country folks vote blue.

    • Ken Dyer 4 months ago

      Both Canavan and Christensen are fossil fuel fools. Japan is shutting down its nuclear power stations and moving to renewables. Why Japan would want to build a coal fired power plant in Australia boggles the mind.

      According to the Clean Energy Council, Large scale renewable energy projects under construction or starting in 2018 will provide 5600 megawatts and cost $11.2billion dollars and employ over 6000 people. It ticks all the boxes.

      What boxes does a coal fired power plant tick. 1000 MW, 5 Billion Dollars and over 5 years to build. It will not be needed at all. But the poor bloody taxpayer will still foot the bill.

      Election now.

      • Shilo 4 months ago

        Is that 5600MW or is it 40% of 5600Mw?

  6. lin 4 months ago

    “It is tremendously important … not to make the perfect the….enemy of the good.”
    Or in the case of the NEG, the awful be the enemy of the merely inadequate.
    Here’s hoping that the ACT, Vic and Qld tell the Feds to shove it.
    Time for an election.

    • phillyc 4 months ago

      Don’t sign the CoAG NEG “blank cheque”. Like you say Lin, “tell the Feds to shove it!”

  7. Rod 4 months ago

    Since tRump signalled his intentions to leave the Paris Agreement there has been a lot of chatter from the Coalash forum about Australia following suit.

    It appears (on Mudrake rags anyway) that some voters believe that is a real possibility.
    Despite the fact we couldn’t until 2020 anyway, I think it is time Labor made it very clear that there is absolutely no chance of Australia pulling out.

    If we were to, there would be serious repercussions.

    • Joe 4 months ago

      So long as Turnbull is in the pilot seat Australia looks to be locked in with Paris Agreement. But if Turnbull gets rolled before the next election is called and the unthinkable happens of ‘Tony Time 2.0’ and he somehow wins the next election then it will be Australia out of Paris Agreement. Afterall the Paris Agreement was only an “aspiration”.according to the dude himself who signed Australia up to the Paris Agreement.

  8. Joe 4 months ago

    ACT Minister Shane and VIC Minister Lily…Stay the Course…don’t be bullied by Turnbull / Joshie into signing anything.

  9. Energy Governator 4 months ago

    Good on Shane and Lily for saying they will oppose the pointless NEG! Still waiting on Queensland to come out with an explicit ‘oppose’ statement though…?

  10. solarguy 4 months ago

    I know that Don Harwin gets it, regarding renewables, but here he is saying the NEG is good. Is he now showing that he has no balls and hasn’t got the courage of his convictions by towing the Lib party line. Grow a pair Don, you bloody sycophant.

  11. Radbug 4 months ago

    At the same time as the people in the country, their own constituency, are suffering the worst Climate Change driven drought in 100 years, these National Party clowns are out there promoting coal-fired generators!

  12. john 4 months ago

    The CoAG are supposed to sign off on the outcome from the NEG.
    But.
    CoAG energy ministers are due to hold their meeting on August 10, but the Coalition government has indicated that emissions targets will not be discussed until another meeting held the following Tuesday, after a party room meeting. But it wants CoAG to commit support for the NEG on the Friday.

    How does this work the States sign up to a conditional agreement that will be possibly changed when the LNP have their meeting the following Tuesday.

    This like I will pay you for a car at this price but next Tuesday you choose the price i pay.

    Cheer idiocy.

    Typical delay and cause as much disruption as possible to any introduction of Renewable Energy into the system as i see it.
    It worked brilliantly when the last Prime Minister was in the Lodge he managed to cause a total shut down in any production of Renewable Products.
    Are we going to see the same kind of situation now?

  13. nullifidian1 4 months ago

    While driving this afternoon I found myself listening to an episode of “Big Ideas” on RN, discussing “Australia’s Energy Future”. As a typical “false equivalence” presentation on the ABC, the program featured two individuals who were basically in favour of renewables (Lana Assaf, Paul Gleeson), a policy director from the IPA (Simon Breheny) and that appalling right-wing misanthrope Judith Sloan. The IPA chap presented the usual pro-coal, Australia’s emissions don’t make a difference, spiel while Sloan’s contributions were riddled with lies and attempts to trivialise the issues. Neither of these latter right wing presenters have any expertise in the electricity network, as was obvious from their comments. ABC, you know that the lunatic right are out to get you, so I don’t understand why you buckle under to cater to their vested interests.

    • john 4 months ago

      I also listen to the broadcast and have some reservations the general tone of the conversion was that RE generation puts up the price of power.
      In fact looking at what has happened the price of wholesale power is being put down by Renewable Energy, whoever at some times the RE does go down an there is a need for supply so the traditional power suppliers make sure they can game the system up to the maximum price possible and get $14000 per MwH which is terrible and it gets worse e every one else gets the same price.
      You know that pretty small Tesla Battery in SA it has totally cut the guts out of the rest of the system being paid for Frequency Control as it does in micro seconds not minutes as the old system used to do. Or and gets nothing to do it.

  14. phillyc 4 months ago

    “We should have steeper reductions in the first 5 years of 2020s …. then we would have options … to deliver more reductions if, as expected, it is required.”
    This is what really matters. Take lots of action now and the road ahead will be far less painful.

  15. Robin_Harrison 4 months ago

    No matter what the coal ision do the superior economics of RE will take over.

  16. Robert Comerford 4 months ago

    I don’t know what it is like in other states but if you listen to rural radio stations in NSW, the numbers of idiots who ring in complaining of UN conspiracies such as climate change and want everyone to join the fishers and shooters party because the Nats are too green, and want Tony back, etc, etc. is rather frightening.
    The coalitions voter base drive these stupid decisions from Canberra.
    I used to think our education system was first class…. seems I got that wrong :>)

    • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

      Education has little to do with it, cultural identity everything to do with it. The disparity between the country and city in Australia illustrates the appalling neglect by politicians but they have been clever enough to divert the justifiable anger away from the culprits!

  17. Les Johnston 4 months ago

    It is important that State Governments use critical analysis to develop the signed agreement instead of signing a meaningless “agreement” which is based on ideology. Why “sign” a document that has no credibility and not based upon hard facts. Signing such a document shows that the person doing so is prepared to commit to anything. Far better to retain integrity and refuse to sign trivia.

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