The Gillard Government has rejected a change to the renewable energy target after calls from the country’s largest power companies to cut it back.
Minister for Climate Change Greg Combet said maintenance of the current target will ensure certainty for investors. Modelling by the Climate Change Authority found that reducing the target would do little to ease rising electricity prices, and would result in an extra 119 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Companies and industry groups have suggested that the original target will be overshot by 5-7% which will come at a cost to consumers and businesses.
The renewable energy target (RET) is set to deliver at least 20 per cent of Australian electricity via renewable sources by 2020. Australia has some of the best resources for solar and wind energy in the world, and the RET has delivered investment and innovation in Australia’s renewable future. The Government has been committed to maintaining investment, Greg Combet announcing that ‘The renewable energy target will work closely with the carbon price in driving a lot of investment in renewable energy and we want to ensure investors in renewable energy the government is very supportive of the investments they are making.” The decision to leave the RET unchanged opens the way for a further $18 billion investment in the industry.
The Government rejected only 3 of the 34 recommendations by the Climate Change Authority, and accepted a recommendation that a review of the target should be conducted every four years, not every two as currently mandated.
The coalition has not put forth any proposals to change the target, however if elected opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said the Government would conduct reviews of the target every six months.