In a recent poll commissioned by WWF, 89% of Australians objected to renewable energy cuts.
More than 5,000 residents from across the country were polled by market researcher, ReachTEL on 26 November which found strong objections to cutting the national Renewable Energy Target (RET).
The RET is currently set for 41GWh of annual renewable power generation by 2020.
In August, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott intervened in the RET review, to ensure the RET could be abolished. Negotiations were underway to slash the target by 40%, to 26GWh, until a few weeks ago when the opposition Labor Party left the negotiating table refusing RET cuts.
According to the survey, most Australians want the 41,000GWh RET to stay, or be increased.
A further 53% of respondents thought renewable energy would help to lower electricity bills, while 23% were undecided and 24% said they did not think renewables would lower bills.
84% of people surveyed also believe Federal government investment in renewable energy is important.
“Cutting the RET makes no sense. It will see Australia’s carbon pollution go up, sustainable energy jobs lost and investment shut out,” said WWF-Australia national manager for climate change, Kellie Caught.
Representing Australia’s clean energy sector, the Clean Energy Council has said that leaving the RET alone would mean AU$14.5 billion investment in clean energy, 18,400 jobs, with no impact on energy bills.
While cutting the RET could cause AU$6 billion less investment, 6,200 fewer jobs and an extra AU$42 added to bills and a complete scrap would result in AU$11 billion lost investment, 11,800 jobs lost, and an extra AU$56 a year added to energy bills.
Support for rooftop solar was at 80% in the poll, and large-scale solar plants garnered 70% support.
Labor argued after leaving RET negotiations that investment and jobs will go overseas with an RET reduction, with investment already falling due to political uncertainty.
Labor’s environment spokesman, Mark Butler said after leaving, that Prime Minister Tony Abbott “has no commitment to meaningful action on climate change nor has he any interest in transitioning the Australian economy to a clean energy future”.
The poll found 88% of respondents who are thinking of changing their vote since 2013, think the RET should increase or stay the same, and 62% said they were more likely to vote for parties supporting, keeping or increasing the RET.
Australia has shown consistently strong support for solar – with a ‘Save Solar’ campaign launched when the RET came under review.
The RET cut is “out of line with public sentiment which is clearly in favour of supporting growth in Australia’s renewable energy sector, including wind and solar” added WWF's Caught.
“Aussies deserve cleaner air and less pollution. They want their children to enjoy Australia’s environment just as they did. That’s why we’re seeing such strong support for sustainable renewable energy.”