‘You’ve never had it so good’ was the message the leader of the Australian Greens had for Australia’s clean energy industry, gathered this week in Brisbane for the annual Clean Energy Week conference.
“I was horrified to read that some of you accept the [20 per cent by 2020] renewable energy target (RET) being pushed back, or perhaps 25 per cent by 2025 or some extension of the 41,000 GWh to 2025,” she said.
“Why on Earth would you accept that? That is being defeatist. The people of Australia really want 100 per cent renewable energy.
“You are one of the luckiest industries in the country. It is time to stand up…” Milne said.
As we wrote yesterday, many in the industry are beginning to question the ability of the power industry to meet the 20 per cent by 2020 renewable energy target because of uncertainty created by the looming election, the insistence of the Coalition in having yet another review of the target in 2014, and the failure of Labor to legislate for that review to be held in 2016, as recommended by the Climate Change Authority.
Quoting Albert Einstein, “Problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them,” Milne said, “From reading the reports of yesterday’s panel of the old political parties, you’d have to say that mindset was on display yesterday.
“I say this in a very critical time in Australian politics for the future in addressing climate change and rolling out the best polices to support renewable energy and energy efficiency,” she said.
Further complicating the problems for renewables is the decision to move more quickly to an emissions trading scheme (ETS), which will result in a higher price for renewable energy certificates.
The Green oppose Labor’s decision to bring the ETS forward by one year to July 2014.
Milne said coal exporters would be forced to pay a $2/tonne levy to invest in climate change mitigation under a new election policy commitment announced today.
The Greens want over $300 million in annual funding for disaster preparation, funded with the levy on thermal coal exports.
The current price of thermal coal is around $US90 per tonne and profit makes up, on average, around 26 per cent of total revenue for the industry, according to the Greens. The levy is roughly equivalent to a 2c movement in the exchange rate, which can happen daily.
Milne urged the industry not to accept proposals to allow renewable energy certificates to be awarded for the burning of native forests.
“It will be a mega mistake if you allow the creation of renewable energy certificates from old growth timber,” she said. “If you are serious about the climate you have to be serious about leaving the carbon in the environment.”