Australia on their renewable-energy mandates: We're kinda' over it

It was out with the Labor Party and in with the Liberal Party in the Australian elections last September (translation: the government switched over from six years of progressive dominance to their version of conservatism). Part of Prime Minister Tony Abbot’s campaign platform was cutting government spending and taking a more reality-based stance on the country’s green commitments (including a deeply unpopular carbon tax), and he immediately started to make good on both of those promises by getting rid of the country’s Climate Commission and freezing renewables funding (not to mention his new government’s suggestion as to where the United Nations could stick their latest attempt to rope developed countries into a mutual impoverishment pact “global climate treaty”). Now, the government is moving forward on reevaluating the economic wisdom of their mandatory renewable energy target (RET), much to the chagrin of both Australian and global greens. Via Reuters:


The target to ensure Australia generates 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources in 2020 has been a boon to the nation’s wind and solar producers, but has been blamed by the conservative Coalition government for increasing power prices.

“In particular, the review will consider the contribution of the RET in reducing emissions, its impact on electricity prices and energy markets, as well as its costs and benefits for the renewable energy sector, the manufacturing sector and Australian households,” Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said in a statement. …

Macfarlane said the outcome of the review was not set, though Environment Minister Greg Hunt last month proposed to delay the implementation of the target by five years. …

Green groups in Australia saw the appointment of Dick Warburton, a former Reserve Bank board member who has expressed doubt that carbon emissions cause climate change, as a clear sign that the government’s intention is to weaken or remove the target.

Which is probably a pretty good idea. The greens doth protest that weakening the target will ease investment in renewables and result in the country using more coal for electricity generation — but funnily enough, Germany’s very similar mandated energy targets of the past few years have in fact directly resulted in the country turning to coal for power generation, and a colossal waste of taxpayer money and loss of business competitiveness besides.


Click to watch the news report from ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, not the American one):

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TOM IGGULDEN, REPORTER: John Howard introduced the Renewable Energy Target, then Labor upped it. The current goal’s to have 20 per cent of Australian power sourced from renewables by 2020. But that could be adjusted downwards following a review into the RET, whose terms of reference were released today.

GREG HUNT, ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: We are a government that is unashamedly doing our best to take pressure off manufacturing and households through anything which can lower electricity prices.

TOM IGGULDEN: Heading the review is former Reserve Bank board member Dick Warburton, a leading climate sceptic who’s argued the effects of climate change have been overstated.

The Government says renewable energy has a role to play in Australia’s energy future, but the review will focus on the economics of green energy.

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