Abbott steps in to abolish renewable energy target

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Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reportedly intervened to ensure the country’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) is abolished.

Having set-up a panel to review the policy for 20% of electricity generated to come from renewable sources by 2020, Abbott is reported to have stepped in to ensure the goal is scrapped.

Abbott asked businessman Dick Warburton to assess the policy. He was understood to prefer scaling it back to abandoning it altogether. The Australian Financial Review has reported that the Prime Minister has given instructions to Warburton to focus on scrapping the RET and has side-lined colleagues, including environment minister Greg Hunt, which had preferred a compromise.

“Australia’s 18,000 solar workers will be devastated and angry today, knowing their jobs are now on the line,” said John Grimes, CEO, Australia Solar Council. “Australians will be shocked to know AU$18 billion of new investment, and thousands of new jobs, is being thrown on the scrap heap.

“This is a clear broken promise. Before the election, the Coalition promised to protect the Renewable Energy Target. The Abbott Government is now trashing this election promise,” said Grimes.

“Solar saves money, creates jobs and shifts votes. The Abbott Government is about to find out how much Australians love solar and the RET,” he added.

Independent modelling commissioned by WWF-Australia, The Climate Institute and the Australian Conservation Foundation found that scrapping the policy will hand AU$8 billion in extra revenue to coal power generators and AU$2 billion to gas generators. The study also found a loss of AU$8 billion in renewable energy investment and no reduction in electricity prices.

“Renewable energy is crucial to combating climate change and helping protect the Great Barrier Reef and much of our unique wildlife,” said Dermot O’Gorman, CEO, WWF-Australia.

“Australia has a natural advantage in solar and wind energy. We must build our renewable energy industry instead of supporting old, dirty power stations. The RET benefits jobs, the economy and the environment,” said O’Gorman.

Video: Tony Abbott's climate change and renewable energy cull list

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