Australia saves watered down Renewable Energy Target

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Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) will not be scrapped following talks held today, but the government is still negotiating exemptions with the opposition.

The current government, led by coal advocate Tony Abbott, called for negotiated cuts to the RET, exemption for some mining industries, or a complete abolition – which has been rejected today by the opposition, Labor.

However, Labor has proposed further negotiations. 

The national target is for 20% renewables by 2020. The RET was previously scrutinised by an independent review in August, at the request of the current government, which called for the RET to be scrapped or downsized. 

The review was reportedly subject to late intervention by Prime Minister Tony Abbott who insisted that abolition be included. It was previously thought that the panel was leaning towards a recommended scaling-down.

The Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, revealed the government's preliminary position on entering the negotiation was to slash the target to a “real” 20%, exempting the largest pollution emitters, such as mining industries. No changes to household solar were proposed – a change in direction from the previous abolition sought of the RET.

The Australian Solar Council said regarding the debate today that discussions “must be about how much we expand our use of solar and achieve 50% renewable energy by 2030. Australians want more solar, not less”.

However, Upper house senate support is required to make any RET changes into law first.

The clean energy industries have lobbied against drastic RET cuts or a complete scrap, to guard the country’s current solar industry and it potential for future growth.

The Clean Energy Council Australia claims on its website that any changes, scrapping or downsizing of the RET “would decimate the renewable energy industry, putting thousands of jobs and billions of dollars worth of investment at risk”.

The Australian Solar Council upped its campaign to ‘Save Solar’ and safeguard the RET through a television advert in September.

The current Australian government has also formed an alliance with Canada, refusing to take serious action on climate change.

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