NEG target in crosshairs as CEC, SEC call for more ambition

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Clean Energy Council and Smart Energy Council call for high emissions reduction targets, as Frydenberg promises no change to the party room.

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Australia’s peak clean energy industry bodies have renewed calls for the federal government to ramp up the emissions reduction ambition of its National Energy Guarantee, or risk cutting the booming renewable energy sector off at the knees.

Both the Clean Energy Council and the Smart Energy Council say that the federal government’s emissions target – 26 per cent for the electricity sector by 2030 – is not good enough because it provides no signal to further investment.

The CEC, which released its annual Clean Energy Australia report on Wednesday, supports the structure of the NEG, but not its lack of ambition. The SEC is more outspoken, and says Australia must aim for a 45 per cent reduction in emissions in the sector, or scrap the NEG entirely.

The call from the two groups comes amid reports federal environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg promised the Coalition party room on Tuesday that the 26 per cent target for 2030 would not be changed.

Analysts have pointed out that this means there will effectively be no incentive for any new renewables in the decade from 2020 to 2030, because that target will largely be met once the building for the renewable energy target is complete.

Right wing agitators Craig Kelly and Tony Abbott also reportedly suggested that the target be “back-ended”, meaning that any emissions reduction efforts should be put off for as long as possible.

But as Tristan Edis from Green Energy Markets has pointed out (see Tweet above), that would effectively mean Frydenberg would have to blockade wind and solar sites to stop them being built.

The CEC’s report notes 2017 was a “record year for records” for solar, wind and battery storage, but not for policy.

“There are now enough projects in the system to meet the 2020 Renewable Energy Target,” said CEC chief Kane Thornton in comments accompanying the report’s launch on Wednesday.

“Given we were only about halfway to the large-scale target at the beginning of 2017, it shows the remarkable level of deal-making and project activity during the year.

“However, it also shows that long-term bipartisan policy has been critical for investment in the energy sector, and that policy certainty beyond 2020 is becoming increasingly urgent.”

Thornton has been careful to avoid any directly negative comments about the NEG, either in the report or around its release, but in the past has sought to emphasise it is yet to endorse the policy, because it has not been finalised, and does not support the weak target.

As the 2018 report notes, as things currently stand, “no national climate or energy policy (is) in place to encourage affordable, reliable and clean electricity after 2020.

“The fate of the (NEG) is far from assured, after a decade of acrimonious political debate and destabilisation in the area,” it continues.

“While a strong consisted national policy would be preferable to navigating a patchwork of individual jurisdictions, the state and territory policy measures have been crucial to driving new investment in the absence of federal policy leadership.”

In it’s own briefing to the Australian governments on Wednesday, fellow industry body, the Smart Energy Council, was less inclined to pull punches.

The SEC has called on the state and territory governments to make their support of the NEG conditional on the federal government setting an emissions reduction target of 45 per cent by 2030 (from 2005 levels), while also keeping state renewable energy targets intact.

“The Smart Energy Council supports national targets of at least 50 per cent renewables and at least 45 per cent reduction in electricity emissions by 2030,” the briefing says.

“Both targets should be stronger but we have, tragically, lost almost a decade of action due to a failure of leadership at a national level.”

The SEC also wants states to ensure an absolute bottom line for emissions reduction – which it calls an Emissions Reduction Safeguard – of no less than 2 per cent a year from 2020.

This would put Australia on track for a 50-year decarbonisation rate, it says, rather than the 200-plus year timeline the nation is set to take under the NEG, with annual reductions of less than 0.5 per cent a year post 2020.

“States must retake the initiative and set the Emissions Reduction Safeguard as a floor for further negotiation and ultimate adoption of the NEG.

“States must ensure that the will be NO NEG unless the Emissions Reduction Safeguard is in place and operational,” the SEC says.

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11 Comments
  1. Ben Dixon 2 years ago

    AllI want for xmas is an early election

    • Hettie 2 years ago

      Me too. The earlier the better.

    • Barri Mundee 2 years ago

      How about a xmas in July?

      • Joe 2 years ago

        Sorry Barri, we’ve got those by elections to get through first.

        • Nick Kemp 2 years ago

          Why not just do all the other seats at the same time?

          • Hettie 2 years ago

            Two reasons, Nick.

            1. The earliest possible date for a combined half Senate and House of Representatives election is August 4.
            2. The corrupt swine want to keep their snouts in the trough of coal and mining kickbacks for as long as possible.

            Much as we all want to be rid of this House of Horrors as soon as possible, do not be surprised if there is a half Senate Election May 28 ’19, and a House of 5 election November 18 ’19, the last legal date for each.

          • Nick Kemp 2 years ago

            Sad really – I’m hanging out for it like an 8 year old waiting for Santa

  2. Glynn Palmer 2 years ago

    “Right wing agitators Craig Kelly and Tony Abbott also reportedly suggested that the target be “back-ended”, meaning that any emissions reduction efforts should be put off for as long as possible”.

    Former Prime Minister Abbott, in December 2015, governed over a COMMITMENT to the assembled nations at the Paris Accord of an emissions reduction of 26% – 28% by 2030 below 2005 levels (612mtpa). In December 2015 our total emissions were 535.6mtpa and in December 2017 were 533.7mtpa. The 2030 commitment is 441 – 453 mtpa.
    HOWEVER, backbencher Abbott, together with some of his colleagues, is currently agitating within the coalition party room to defer action on reducing emissions until close to the 2030 deadline. In other words, do nothing to honour the commitment he made to Earth’s nations. Currently there is no Planet B to migrate to.

    His recalcitrant group is agitating to build new coal power stations, that with USCPC technology will emit 773kg/MWh burning black coal or 928kg/MWh with brown coal. 106kg/MWh and 132kg/MWh with unaffordable carbon capture and storage. A new coal power station would need more than 30 years operation to recover its initial capital cost. They are also publicly condemning AGL for planning to decommission the Liddell coal power station (981kg/MWh emissions intensity) on its normally scheduled retirement 50th birthday. This is despite AGL having a published plan to construct replacement renewable capacity.
    Mr Abbott and his gang are ignoring the 21st century advances in renewable energy technology. A declining cost trend for solar PV, wind and batteries. In comparison coal generation has been on a level cost trend line. See the trend trajectories here. https://www.lazard.com/media/450436/rehcd3.jpg

    • Joe 2 years ago

      Babbott, Bananabee, Kelly and the rest, they are all insane. They should be so medically certified and immediately removed from Parliament before they can do any more damage to the country and planet.

  3. Hettie 2 years ago

    The gentailers continue to price themselves out of the market by clinging to fossil fuels. The retailers that own only renewable resources, or are free to buy renewable power, will take more and more market share.
    Even without government policy, the sheer economics, which are more in favour of renewables every month, will inevitably drive the death of coal and gas generation.
    The tragedy is that it could all happen so much faster with halfway sane policy.

    • Phil NSW 2 years ago

      I tend to agree with you except they are (more and more) quietly putting a foot in both camps whilst exploiting (price gouging) us with their FF generators. Bring on more big batteries to cut into their party.

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