Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) is facing an uncertain future with a recent report showing that investment in large-scale renewable energy has nose-dived over the past year.
Investment in renewable energy worldwide is up by 16%, in a stark contrast with Australia’s figure which dropped by 88%.
The Climate Council said the future of Australia’s renewable energy industry remains highly uncertain due to the lack of a clear federal government renewable energy policy.
The RET aims to achieve 20% of the country’s power supply from renewables. About 89% of Australians support the initiative.
Activist group GetUp blames Prime Minister Tony Abbott, along with his pro-capitalist, pro-coal agenda which favours power companies such as Origin, AGL and Energy Australia.
GetUp said since 2001 the RET has been responsible for a massive $20 billion in investment into the Australian economy creating over 24,000 new jobs and lower power bills for consumers.
Nearly 24,000 GetUp members made their voices heard by making a submission to the government’s review of the RET. In addition, over 5,000 GetUp members have switched from Origin, AGL and Energy Australia to renewable energy companies such as Powershop as part of a campaign to make consumers’ voices heard.
With the RET’s future hanging in the balance new investment in renewables has fallen to a 13-year low, the group said.
GetUp noted this is ironic considering the fact that the Government’s former Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Liberal Party Senator Simon Birmingham admitted in 2013 that the real driver of investment in renewable energy has been and continues to be the RET. The senator was quoted as saying, “We have always supported the RET and continue to offer bi-partisan support for this scheme. It has been interesting to note the claims being made about what the Coalition will or won’t do. All of it is simply conjecture. The Coalition supports the current system, including the 41,000 giga-watt hours target.”
Beyond Zero Emission (BZE) is also driving a campaign to discourage Australians from supporting the three main power companies. Although the three companies provide energy to the majority of Australians, the group said they have been actively campaigning to dismantle the RET.
Many Australians can opt for greener alternatives to the big three power suppliers. Victoria residents can switch to Powershop or Diamond Energy while consumers from South Australia, New South Wales or South East Queensland can switch to Diamond Energy.
World leaders will gather in Paris in December this year to determine the rules for a new global agreement to limit global greenhouse emissions and temperature below two degrees above pre-industrial levels.
Australia’s major trading partners have been building significant momentum to make ambitious contributions toward their post-2020 national targets. The Climate Change Authority (CCA) suggests that nationally determined contribution to reduce emissions, agreed by Australia, will be central in determining the climate policy framework that will cover and impact companies covered under any emissions reduction initiative. The Authority adds:
This is an important time to convene business, government and NGOs for a mature, constructive dialogue about what should be the nature of Australia’s commitment, why it is in our best interests to actively participate in the negotiations and to share views to understand the economic, environmental and social implications for business.
The CCA finds Australia’s emission reduction target (5 % reduction by 2020) to be too low and out of step with its allies and trading partners.