Labor walks out of talks on 40% RET slash in Australia

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Labor refused to scrap Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET), and has now left negotiations to have the policy slashed.

“Labor has today ensured that Australia’s Renewable Energy Target will remain in place,” said Labor’s environment spokesman, Mark Butler, who wrote to the industry minister, Ian Macfarlane to state that Labor will not accept RET changes and has halted discussions.

Butler said Labor will protect the RET and rejects Tony Abbott’s plan to cut the target by 40% “which will kill thousands of jobs and billions in investment, as well as put upwards pressure on electricity prices”.

Labor argues investment and jobs will go overseas with an RET reduction, with RET investment already falling due to political uncertainty.

“Labor believes a strong Renewable Energy Target is a critical part of Australia’s response to climate change and transitioning our economy to a clean energy future,” said Butler.

The pull out from Labor happens just as solar advocate and Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi is visiting the country, which is also hosting the G20 talks next week.

“The Abbott Government has ensured that Australia is the only country in the world to reverse action on climate change – a fact that won’t be missed at G20 meetings in Brisbane this week,” said Butler.

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 RET is currently set for 41GWh of annual renewable power generation by 2020 – negotiations were underway to slash the target by 40%, to 26GWh.

Representing Australia’s clean energy sector, the Clean Energy Council has said that leaving the RET alone, grants AU$14.5 billion investment in clean energy, 18,400 jobs, with energy bills costing customers the same.

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.  

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