Labor raises the renewables bar, Australia responds

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From ‘visionary’ to ‘economic game-changer’ to first step in right direction, here’s what people are saying about Labor’s renewables policy announcement.

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Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten’s announcement that he will ask the party to adopt a 50 per cent by 2030 renewable energy target is a real breakthrough for the political debate in Australia, possibly as significant as the bipartisan deal to pursue a 20/20 renewable energy target way back in 2007.

That – in a nutshell – is how we here at RE have described today’s ALP policy news.

Now here’s what some other people are saying about it…

Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes: “This is a visionary announcement and the right announcement economically, environmentally and socially.  …This is a game changer for Australia’s economy… Australia will join all of its major trading partners – China, US, EU, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea – in embracing solar and renewable energy.”

Federal environment minister, Greg Hunt: “Buried in the detail of the story is the fact that they still intend to have a carbon tax. …That means that the price of electricity will go up. That’s still their fundamental policy. They know it, we know it and the public knows it.”

Australian Greens, deputy leader and energy spokesperson Larissa Waters: 

“The Greens welcome Labor’s change of tack on this issue and we look forward to an election campaign in which global warming is front and centre. …The original RET had us on track for 30 per cent renewables by 2020, so another 20 per cent one decade on actually puts us on a slower trajectory for change. …The missing link here is coal – where are Labor’s policies for shutting down coal power and helping workers and communities to transition to clean energy?”

Friends of the Earth, renewable energy spokesperson Leigh Ewbank: “The Australian Labor Party’s decision to back a national goal of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 proves it’s prepared to lead on renewables. …It shows that the alternative government values renewable energy jobs, unlike the Abbott government which is actively sabotaging the sector.”

Australian Youth Climate Coalition, director Kirsty Albion: “We are so excited to see the ALP step up by committing to a target for 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030. Australia can be powered by 100 per cent clean, renewable energy creating thousands of jobs. …Now Tony Abbott must get with the program and increase renewable energy not cut it.”

Solar Citizens, national director Claire O’Rourke: “Labor leader Bill Shorten today begins a new chapter for renewable energy in Australia – this new, ambitious and achievable goal and will address the relentless and willful damage that the Abbott Government has inflicted on the solar and renewable energy industry since it was elected in 2013.

“This announcement demonstrates that the ALP has a strong commitment to the creation of thousands of jobs and to help families reap the rewards of solar to take control of rising power bills.”

GetUp, acting national director Paul Oosting: “This decision gives Australian voters a genuine choice come election time. Australia’s been missing out, carrying around a dirty coal sack while the rest of the world ditches it for clean renewable power and embraces the jobs and cheaper power that comes with it….  (We have) enough clean energy to power the country 500 times over. It’s time we start tapping into that resource and leave the dirty sack of coal behind.”

WWF-Australia, spokesperson Kellie Caught: “Australians in their millions are investing in solar energy to manage electricity bills and doing their bit to reduce carbon pollution. Our politicians need to step up and do it on a larger scale. Setting a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 would provide electricity investors with clear guidance to manage the transition to a cleaner more sustainable electricity sector and facilitate growth in sustainable jobs.”

Electrical Trades Union, national secretary Allen Hicks: “We have long called for a sensible policy that sees Australia take a leadership role in renewable energy, which will benefit an innovative country with high levels of technical skills. This is the first step in that direction, and is the kind of policy — if pursued properly — that could put Australia on the front foot globally in terms of both energy policy and climate change.

“In just two years, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has overseen uncertainty and job losses in the burgeoning renewable energy sector, with senseless attacks apparently aimed at destroying a growth industry that already employs tens of thousands of Australians. Today’s announcement comes in stark contrast to that approach, and marks the arrival of a real vision for the renewables sector.”

The Climate Insitute, CEO John Connor: “We welcome this new target and achieving it will require a toolbox of policy solutions. The key barrier to modernising our power sector is retiring and replacing our outdated and polluting coal fired generation fleet. It makes little sense to have half of our power generation renewables if the other half is dominated by the most polluting generation technology – brown coal.

“Whatever pollution or clean energy goals the major parties announce, these will only be delivered and investment unlocked with a scalable, durable and effective toolbox of policies to achieve the targets. Without this, global capital and clean energy investors will continue to flee Australia to those countries like China who are already delivering.”

Infigen Energy: “Policies that support renewables through a much needed electricity generation replacement cycle will help signal to inefficient and highly carbon intensive coal fired generators the increasing risk of their short term strategies to prolong asset lives in the face of inevitable change.

“Australia needs a comprehensive energy policy and bipartisan support for the mechanism necessary to deliver on the agreed ambitions to reduce carbon emissions. The renewable energy policy proposed by the ALP is a very important contribution to this objective.”

Australian Industry Group, CEO Innes Willox: “It will have consequences for our current energy mix, so that will have both cost and employment implications. …They need to give us some assurances around the costs to business of a policy such as this, and that’s where we’ll be talking to them, and I’ll hopefully be meeting the opposition leader next week to discuss this proposal.”

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13 Comments
  1. Blair Donaldson 4 years ago

    Watch for the LNP scare campaign now Tony Abbott has been found wanting

  2. David McKay 4 years ago

    Its good to see the ALP ready to deliver some policy.
    Hunt is obviously preparing to revive the “great big carbon tax” scare campaign. So where does he suggest the billions to pay polluters for the unproven direct action programme come from, OUR TAXES GREG. The money going to polluters is money diverted from health, education, etc. Anyone that analyses their power bill knows the big problem is how the utilities are allowed to game the system with their fixed charges. Their business model is based on taking from their clients, not competition. These are fo profit businesses, yet Governments protect them at the expense of consumers.

    • Steve159 4 years ago

      David

      Yes, we can expect the misinformation and blatant lies to start flying thick and fast from the LNP.

      It is up to each of us to voice the truths about Renewable Energy. Basically, renewables are good for jobs, the environment and for keeping electricity prices low.

      1. The RET does NOT cost taxpayers anything! Not one cent!!*
      2. In 2012 (before Abbott started decimating the industry) “solar employed more Australians than oil and gas extraction, gas supply and petroleum and coal product manufacturing combined” [solar.org.au; Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, Energy in Australia 2013]
      3. keeping the RET will LOWER electricity prices**

      Notes

      * The RET simply helps initiate Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), created by installation companies (for house-hold solar etc), which are then purchased by “RET-liable entities with an obligation under the LRET also have a legal requirement under the SRES to buy STCs and surrender them to the Clean Energy Regulator on a quarterly basis.”) [source: http://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/renewable-energy-target-scheme ]

      ** Government modelling shows power prices will fall if RET stays [ SMH]

  3. Greg 4 years ago

    Why cant the greens take a step back and say ‘this is better than any other option, so we will support it and try and enhance it? Why do they have to take a contrarian position, even when the move is in the right direction? It boggles my mind.

    • Blair Donaldson 4 years ago

      Good point Greg. The Greens often manage to rescue defeat from the jaws of victory by their stupid win at all costs behaviour with the end result being nothing is achieved. I just hope they have the intelligence and maturity to drop the aggro against the ALP and vice versa.

  4. Rob G 4 years ago

    The odd one out here is Greg Hunt. As expected, his response is in the negative and signals a scare campaign to follow. But really he and his party should be going one better if they want to have a remote chance of re-election.

  5. Dan Spencer 4 years ago

    Australian Youth Climate Coalition* 🙂

  6. David K Clarke 4 years ago

    My concern is that 2030 is, what, about 4 elections away. Even if Labor wins the next federal election and adopted the 50% by 2030 target they would not need to actually do anything in the next five years.

    • Rob G 4 years ago

      Given the Abbott lesson where his party’s true colours are now understood, I think Labor will go at it with all guns blazing. They know we have to play catchup and they will sign up to trees to cement a position for the future to come. The Libs may learn also that they have been on the wrong side of this argument and be forced to change their attitude. I also believe Labor will take us to the point of no return. If they can successful shut down coal stations then starting then back up again in years to come will be near impossible. I’m guessing Labor will still want to export coal to anyone who’ll take it. They are not entirely pure of heart on climate change.

      • David K Clarke 4 years ago

        I hope you are right. Your opinion of Labor’s intentions is more rosy than mine.

      • Blair Donaldson 4 years ago

        Labour and the Greens are crazy if they do not push the 50% renewables option as hard as they can right up to the next election, especially if they can also paint the NLP as being antiscience troglodytes – which they are. Hopefully the ALP and Greens will realise there is more benefit working together on this instead of trying to knife each other in the back.

        You can bet there will be a huge scare campaign surrounding renewables (and asylum seekers) but if the opposition parties remain focused on the renewables story, they should be able to attract enough voters to their side.

        If Abbott is still a chance to win the next election, I expect he will prostitute himself to win it if he has to, he has no shame and will try to hold on to power at any cost. With luck his own words will be used against him to deflate any con job he might try to employ.

        • Rob G 4 years ago

          They will, it’s something that defines them and I believe the have most of the community behind them. I remains to be see if it is a vote changer. I think it will be, after all the choice is the past or the future and us humans generally hate old technology. Anyone want to buy a fax machine?

    • david H 4 years ago

      Both sides of politics need to get real about about agreeing long term policy requirements such as the RET. To me, a 10 year rolling target should be in place to give continued long term security for investment in renewable energy. It is amazing that as a first world country, sovereign risk is a major risk for developing long term projects in Australia.

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