NEG Redux & a Plan B

Federal Labor has been making headlines in the lead up to this weekend's local election, signalling a definite commitment to renewables as party priority.

Projecting and promising sizeable investment into an overhaul of the national energy policy, diversifying sources of generation and modernising the network as well as assuring us of a battery storage subsidy of $2,000 for 100,000 solar homeowners.

Additionally, in an attempt to extend something of an olive branch, Labor's shadow cabinet has come down in favour of honouring the Turnbull government's Nation Energy Guarantee should they win the next election. With the sole caveat of an increase in the emissions reduction target to 45% by 2030. The reasoning goes that the Coalition can't consistently oppose policy it proposed itself initially.

If this were to work, supposing they won, it would be a monumental step forward in the transition taking place, like it or don't, in the energy industry in Australia. A business climate of stability in consequence of a coherent planned pathway forward is so sorely needed now. It can only exist if there is a bipartisan consensus.

The amounts of money involved, scale of logistics to be orchestrated and time required if we are to carry out any serious steps toward the changes to the National Energy Market entailed in the NEG. We can't have future governments acting on a whim in the name of an ideology to overturn it down the line. There needs to be a bottom-line both sides will sign off on.

In the event that the Liberals lose and persist in fighting adamantly against policy they themselves drafted and advocated, Labor has reassured anybody concerned that there is a plan B.

It will consist of an industry policy framework to ensure appropriate projects succeed which will stabilise and secure the grid while achieving the end aim of 50% renewable sources of generation by 2030. The mechanisms and modus operandi have yet to be outlined, but contracts-for-difference have been nominated as a probable avenue of investment.

These signals to constituencies by Labor are well calculated, with the next elections being billed as decisively important on account of the increasingly obvious adverse effects of anthropogenic climate change.

I write this on a wintry Spring day, at the end of November, almost a year after a super-storm opened Summer. Droughts are endemic in many rural areas. Certain of them are on track to have 48 more 30+ degree days a year by 2050. Average Australians can see for themselves something's off.

Action is integral. There are something on the order of 24 coal power stations operative at the minute. 12 have to close in 12 years for us to stand a sporting chance at meeting the IPCC's recommended 1.5°C target.

The Labor party, however one feels about their other positions, are alone ticking all the right boxes on energy and environment.

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