Coalition Cantering Without Direction

The Coalition continues to treat climate change with arrant disregard. A nonissue not to be planned for.

Last Friday past, at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) energy ministers meeting, they voted down a motion to make it a priority in the national energy policy.

A proposal by the ACT, whose relevant local policy is exemplary, asked the COAG Energy Council to “…task the Energy Security Board to prepare policy advice on a mechanism to introduce an electricity sector emissions reduction obligation into the National Electricity System, to assess the effect of such changes in reducing energy prices, and to provide an update on progress at the December 2018 meeting.”

The suggestion was seconded by Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania went against it. It was shot down.

ACT Minister Shane Rattenbury

“It is very disappointing. All we were doing is asking for options to be put on the table,” ACT minister Shane Rattenbury said to the press afterwards.

The incompatibility of the ideology of coal with an overriding objective of lower electricity prices, is not lost on the minister.

“One of the great ironies is that taking action on climate change, and supporting more renewable energy, will help to bring down power prices...The Federal Government won’t be able to fulfil its promise of affordable power bills unless it takes its head out of the sand and deals with emissions.”

Earlier in the week the Australian Health Professionals (AHP) had some strong words for the Australian government's stunningly stupid and “contemptuous dismissal of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).” Stating emphatically that they are “dismayed by the implications of our government's ongoing stance to disregard the consensus of the world's leading climate scientists, the precautionary principle, and any idea of duty of care regarding the future wellbeing of Australians and our immediate neighbours.”

Out of all this there's a rather bizarre bit of positive news — the Coalition has no intention to touch the current rebate subject to the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES). ACCC Commissioner Rod Sim, in August, advocated the abolition of Small-scale Technology subsidies (STCs) for solar in advance of the die out date. It was a wellspring of worry in our industry in the lead up to the NEG's final formulation.

Anti-Renewable-Energy Energy Minister Angus Taylor

However, when asked, the incumbent energy minister went on record: “There’s no plan to change the SRES. The SRES and the large-scale renewable energy target are around until 2030. They fade between now and 2030, there’s decline as technology continues to improve. That’s our position...The deeming rates fall every year between now and 2030. We are not proposing to change that. That’s designed to ensure the subsidy comes off as technology continues to improve.”

All the same, it should not be such cause for joy that the government merely has no plans to interfere with or overturn existing good policies in place. Australia urgently requires a coherent forward facing framework for national emissions reduction. Without one, we're heading nowhere “at a canter.”

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