Negative Stamp

Taking action

The Smart Energy Council is urging State and Territory Governments to back the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) only on the condition that realistic, strong emissions reduction targets are locked in and the States can continue their progressive renewable energy projects. The ACT has already expressed its reluctance in signing a NEG that delivers no compromises, with Climate Change minister Shane Rattenbury warning the far right faction could thwart the deal in its bid to prevent concessions to improve emissions reduction.

Modelling by RepuTex reveals the NEG would deliver just 10 per cent of the national emissions reduction effort, and that the emissions reduction target for electricity of 26 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 leaves a shortfall across the rest of the economy of close to 500 million tonnes of carbon pollution.

Despite the extent of the shortfall, the government is yet to elaborate on any plans for emissions reduction in other sectors of the economy.

Assuming emissions will need to be reduced across the economy to conform with the Paris agreement, that will double the price of carbon to $35 per tonne by 2030 “with industry – notably high-emitting energy, materials and industrial companies – bearing the brunt of the higher abatement cost” according to RepuTex.

“With the electricity sector locked into the NEG, other sectors – particularly large energy, materials and industrials facilities – will be called on to fill the gap to 2030”, says the firm’s executive director Hugh Grossman.

“As this occurs, we expect carbon contract prices to rise to $35/t in 2030 – more than double current levels – behind the need for more expensive abatement from industry.”

He says abatement is cheaper in the electricity sector than elsewhere in the economy, a view strongly shared by the Smart Energy Council, Climate Council, The Australia Institute and others.

RepuTex’s advice to clients is prices will increase considerably from 2020 “in line with the need for more expensive abatement to be triggered, and greater demand for offset buying”.

“This will lead to a higher sustained price path over time, with industry expected to contribute around half of all emissions reductions to 2030”.

 

With the clock ticking down to the August 10 NEG meeting, outlandish opinions about the need for more coal plants have been bandied around by the far right faction.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has stated he “would welcome the construction of a new coal-fired power plant” and that the NEG would prolong the operating life of the existing coal fleet, however several state and territory governments oppose the prospect and it will take just one jurisdiction to veto the NEG.

In response to calls for new coal plants the SEC says “This is why State and Territory Governments cannot give unconditional support to the NEG. They need to know what they are signing up to. They cannot afford to handball responsibility for climate and energy policy to Tony Abbott and the National Party.”

Solar Citizens agrees the Energy Minister is “bending over backwards to satisfy the pro-coal faction in the Coalition party room” and being bullied into drafting an "add-on" to the National Energy Guarantee to provide incentives for new coal.

Last week the Minerals Council, the Business Council of Australia and other big business groups were at Parliament House to express support for the NEG.

“[All the] Big carbon polluters … the same industry that helped scrap the carbon price,” the Smart Energy Council said. “The group that is heavily supportive of the National Energy Guarantee.

“Why so? It’s complex. It’s rushed. And best of all, for them, it will close down the renewable industry for a decade … no renewables from 2020 till 2030.

“Their message for Tony Abbott and his band is to get on board as the NEG locks in fossil fuels for a decade … and locks out renewables in that time.

“If you love carbon pollution – it doesn’t get better than this. These carbon boosters are clinging onto the past,” says the Smart Energy Council which represent more than a thousand companies building the future.

“Solar, wind, battery companies that are slashing power bills for ordinary Aussies, creating jobs and cleaning up the environment.

“For us the NEG is aptly named – it represents NEGLIGENCE. Negligent leadership. Negligent economics. Negligent on the environment

“To the federal government we say this: we will never support a NEG that locks in coal. A NEG that locks out renewables. A NEG that stops the states from taking action on climate change.

“Our position is clear, State and Territory Governments must reject the NEG - until strong emissions reduction targets are locked in and the States can push ahead on renewables,” the Smart Energy Council reiterated.

In late June a rally was staged on the grounds of Parliament House to demonstrate opposition to the NEG, with concerned groups warning the NEG contains an emissions reduction target too modest to see Australia meet its commitments under the Paris climate agreement.

Australia is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. The world recorded the hottest ever five-year period (2013-2017).
This record is part of a sharp, long-term upswing in global temperatures, with
17 of the 18 hottest years on record all occurring in this century, the Climate Council says.

What does the public think? According to the latest Guardian Essential poll, voters are not convinced the NEG will lead to lower power prices, just 15 per cent think the NEG will help reduce energy bills, whereas 22 per cent believe prices will increase and 38 per cent say it will make no difference.

Solar Citizens says a watered-down NEG will slam the brakes on renewables investment and now with no courage and resolve from the Energy Minister, it's being thrown into reverse gear.

“Frydenberg can't make a move without fear of stepping on the toes of Tony Abbott and his political playmates, and these guys are so deep in the pocket of the big end of town that their priority isn’t fixing our broken electricity system.

“History is repeating itself, and yet again the shadow of coal-fired power is looming over our progress to a clean energy future. Our energy future cannot be at the ransom of political and technological ideologies that are living in the past,” Solar Citizens says.

“Australians love renewable energy; let’s use the people-power of our solar-loving community to influence the debate and steer towards a future powered by the sun, wind and waves.”

June saw another record month for solar with 126 MW rooftop PV installed - the second-highest recorded to date and 50 per cent in front of figures from 2017.

Commercial solar systems over 30 kW are booming, but balanced against this is the decrease in residential rooftop. However the average installation now stands at an unbeaten 7.3 kW.

 

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