Quantcast
Renewable Energy

Australia Looks to Dump Renewable Energy Target

In a move similar to the one that plunged Ohio to the end of the line among U.S. states when it comes to moving toward renewable energy, Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott is signaling his plans to scale back or eliminate that country's Renewable Energy Target (RET).

Australia's booming renewable energy sector has some dirty energy companies lobbying the government to abandon the Renewable Energy Target. Photo credit: American Conservation Foundation

The Australian Financial Review reported on Monday in a story "Abbott's Plan to Axe RET" that Abbott has asked businessman Dick Warburton, whom Abbott charged following his election last fall with reviewing RET, to take a closer look at ending the target entirely rather than scaling it down as Warburton had proposed.

It wrote:

The federal government is moving towards abolishing the Renewable Energy Target rather than scaling it back in a move that will cost almost $11 billion in proposed investment and which is at odds with the views of its own environment minister.

Sources said environment minister Greg Hunt, who advocated scaling back the RET as a compromise, has been sidelined from the process and is understood to be unhappy. They said Mr. Abbott, treasurer Joe Hockey and finance minister Mathias Cormann are pushing the issue now. A government source said when the government announced its decision, possibly before the end of this month, it was now “more likely’’ the RET will be abolished under a so-called “closed to new entrants scenario’’ in which existing contracts only would be honoured.

Australia's renewable energy standards were first enacted in 2001, then expanded in 2010 to mandate a target of 20 percent of electricity coming from renewal sources. Although in 2012 74 percent of Australia's electricity came from coal, the growth of its renewables sector, especially wind generation, had it on track to far exceed RET.

Apparently, that's got some companies in the fossil fuel business worried. The Australian Financial Review said, "The Abbott government has been lobbied heavily by the business and energy sectors to abolish or water it down as renewable energy gained a larger than expected share of the ­electricity market."

And it's clear that some in the government are already not friends of renewables. The paper quotes treasurer Joe Hockey saying back in May, "I find those wind turbines around Lake George to be utterly offensive. I think they're a blight on the landscape."

A study, also released on Monday, commissioned by three Australian environmental groups The Climate Institute, Australian Conservation Foundation and WWF-Australia, suggested what's really behind the Abbott government's push to move out of renewables.

The study, "Big power company profits—the real outcome of an changes to the Renewable Energy Target," found that if the RET is eliminated, coal-fired power generation companies could increase their profits by as much as $25 billion between 2015 and 2030. It said that axing or watering down RET "would benefit owners of polluting coal plants at the expense of households and small business" and that energy prices for consumers would not only go down but could actually increase somewhat. Meanwhile, it said, jettisoning RET would add as much carbon pollution as four million new cars on the road and have additional pollution costs of over $14 billion.

Climate Institute CEO John Connor said:

This modelling highlights the cynical self-interest behind power companies’ calls to weaken the Renewable Energy Target. Companies like Origin and EnergyAustralia are pushing to weaken the target not, as they like to claim, because that would be good for customers, but because a weaker target is better for their bottom line. The RET is a bipartisan policy that is effectively reducing carbon pollution from the electricity sector and building our nation’s renewable energy industry. Both these objectives are vital—they help avoid dangerous climate change and sensibly position Australia’s economy to remain competitive in a world moving to clean energy sources.

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

Australia’s New Prime Minister Vows to Bolster Coal Industry As Environmental Groups Denounce Coal Exports

Ohio State Researchers Show How Renewable Energy Standards Reduce Carbon Emissions

Why ALEC’s Attacks on Renewable Energy Failed Nationwide

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Popular
South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts (S.C.U.T.E) unearthed three baby loggerheads after a nest inventory at Pawleys Island beach. Lorraine Chow

Sea Turtle Population Rebounding But Many Threats Remain

A new study published in Science Advances has found that most global sea turtles populations are recovering after historical declines.

The results from the analysis suggest that conservation programs actually work, and why we must defend the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that protects vulnerable plants and animals, and is currently under attack by political and business interests.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
www.youtube.com

Baby Rhino Brings New Hope to India’s Manas National Park

A baby rhino spotted alongside its mother in Manas National Park, located in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, is an encouraging new sign that the rhino population in the protected area is on the upswing. The mother, named Jamuna, was rescued as a calf from Kaziranga National Park, located about 200 miles east of Manas and raised at the Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation, a facility that cares for injured or orphaned wild animals run by Wildlife Trust of India/International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Assam Forest Department. She was moved to the Manas in 2008 as part of the country's rhino conservation efforts.

The calf is her second since 2013—a positive indication that despite concerns due to poaching of mature males, rhinos in Manas are reproducing.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Cedar Mesa Valley of the Gods in the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. Bob Wick, BLM

Navajo Nation Readies Legal Action if Trump Shrinks Bears Ears National Monument

Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's recommendation to reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah could spark a legal battle between the Navajo Nation and the Trump administration.

"We are prepared to challenge immediately whatever official action is taken to modify the monument or restructure any aspect of that, such as the Bears Ears Commission," Ethel Branch, Navajo Nation attorney general, told Reuters.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Jilson Tiu / Greenpeace

Nestlé, Unilever, P&G Among Worst Offenders for Plastic Pollution in Philippines Beach Audit

A week-long beach clean up and audit at Freedom Island in Manila Bay has exposed the companies most responsible for plastic pollution in the critical wetland habitat and Ramsar site—one of the worst locations for plastic pollution in the Philippines.

The Greenpeace Philippines and #breakfreefromplastic movement audit, the first of its kind in the country, revealed that Nestlé, Unilever and Indonesian company PT Torabika Mayora are the top three contributors of plastic waste discovered in the area, contributing to the 1.88 million metric tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste in the Philippines per year.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
GMO
www.youtube.com

Arkansas Plant Board Backs Dicamba Ban Next Summer in Blow to Monsanto

The Arkansas Plant Board has approved new regulations that prohibit the use of dicamba from April 16 through Oct. 31, 2018 after receiving nearly 1,000 complaints of pesticide misuse in the state.

Arkansas, which temporarily banned the highly volatile weedkiller in July, could now face legal action from Monsanto, the developers of dicamba-resistant soybeans or cotton and the corresponding pesticide, aka the Xtend crop system.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Crews cleanup a spill from the Rover pipeline near the Tuscrawas River in southern Stark County. Ohio EPA

Ohio EPA Hikes Fines Against Rover Pipeline to $2.3 Million

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked the state attorney general's office Wednesday to hold the owners of the troubled Rover natural gas pipeline responsible for $2.3 million dollars in fines. Rover leaked more than 2 million gallons of drilling mud into protected Ohio wetlands this spring, leading the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order a halt to construction.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Diego Cambiaso / Flickr

White House Considers Green Rebrand

The White House convened a "big-picture" strategy meeting on climate and environment this week, Politico reported.

At the meeting, deputy-level White House officials and representatives from agencies discussed how to frame President Trump's larger environmental objectives beyond simply overturning Obama-era regulations. Per Politico, meeting attendees considered the possibility of highlighting job creation and new energy technology and "how to combat the public perception that the administration is out of touch with climate science."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
iStock

How Trump Could Undermine the U.S. Solar Boom

By Llewelyn Hughes and Jonas Meckling

Tumbling prices for solar energy have helped stoke demand among U.S. homeowners, businesses and utilities for electricity powered by the sun. But that could soon change.

President Donald Trump—whose proposed 2018 budget would slash support for alternative energy—may get a new opportunity to undermine the solar power market by imposing duties that could increase the cost of solar power high enough to choke off the industry's growth.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

Get EcoWatch in your inbox