Just a few years ago the two major political parties in Australia agreed to optimize renewable energy by the year 2020, hoping that 20% of all household electricity would come from renewable energy sources. Unfortunately, all hopes for the Australia Renewable Energy Target have shattered.
This is in line with the recent negotiations coming to a complete breakdown. This ended when the Australia Labour Party told the current Government that there was absolutely no value in continuing the on-going discussions about the RET.
Negotiations started back in 2008 when both political parties agreed to a target of 41,000 Gigawatt hours electricity produced solely through renewable energy sources. However, the Government and Labor negotiation has come to a halt with the government’s radical changes to the policy.
The Coalition hopes to cut back the target down to 26,000 GW hours instead of the proposed 41,000. This was due to the recent drop in household electrical consumption. In their terms, the 26,000 GW would reflect “real 20%” of the current population’s consumption.
Labor continues to argue that it is still a 40% cut from the proposed target. Bill Shorten, leader of the Opposition, stated that this cut would drastically alter the industry in Australia. Not only would billions of dollars in solar energy investment halt but so would the prospect of new jobs in the industry.
With a lower target for 2020, the Government’s new cut would lessen investments and job opportunities but it also means a higher focus on coal investments. This is in direct reflection to the sudden drop in oil prices and in household electricity consumption.
As a matter of fact, Keppel Prince Engineering is already set to cut off 100 jobs and several projects because of low funding and poor government support. With the way Government is handling renewable energy it is very likely that other areas of the industry will follow Keppel’s route.
This is not the Government’s first radical move against renewable energy policies. Just recently a newly legislated policy guaranteed a $4 Billion subsidiary for fossil fuel corporations – rewards and other incentives are to be paid to companies proposing “clean acts” instead of punishing them for carbon emissions.
With the Labor party now dropping and breaking off negotiations to keep the RET at 41,000 GWh then the future of the policy falls into the hands of smaller political parties. The current hand to tackle is the PUP or Palmer United Party, led by Clive Palmer.
Senator Christine Milne, of Greens, stated that there was no movement in the Senate to support a cut in RET. Despite this support it only seems inevitable that Australia will go the opposite route from that of China and the United States by investing instead on cheaper fossil fuel and new carbon technology.
Without support from the Labor party to continue negotiations and fight the policy intended by the Abbott Government it is likely that the current status of the RET will remain in limbo until either the 40% cut is applied or until another party picks up the pieces.
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