Protect the Renewable Energy Target

Does your Member of Parliament back clean energy?

Understating our environment? Not on our watch!

Right now the Australian Senate is debating the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) Amendment Bill in parliament — the Abbott Government's attempt to wind back environment laws and hand over its powers of approval and enforcement to states.

The government is trying to implement the agenda of the big business and mining lobby who want to mine more, dredge deeper, and frack faster, with less oversight. 

State governments are not resourced to enforce national laws. Their laws and regulations do not meet the standards required in the EPBC. They can’t be trusted to protect our air, our water and our the places we love with mining royalties on the table.

Within months, if these handovers proceed, Australia’s special places could be exposed to an unprecedented level of threat.  

Over the last sixteen months, you sent thousands of emails to Environment Ministers, made hundreds of calls to influential MPs, and signed on to our petition in your tens of thousands. You’ve spoken out to the former Labor government, the current Liberal government, and the crossbench Senators.

Yesterday community leaders from all over Australia walked into Parliament House with real people from real places who are at threat from the government’s plans. 

In a series of meetings, they gave Senators six good reasons not to weaken environment laws:

1. Dennis Vice, a Coonawarra winegrower doesn’t want invasive gas mining in threatening local aquifers

2. Tony Brown, a Whitsunday tourism operator and Tony Fontes, a Great Barrier dive instructor, don’t want their community’s livelihood trashed along with the World Heritage values of the Reef.

3. Dr Anne Poelina, a Nyikina Traditional Custodian doesn’t want a dirty coal mine in a pristine Kimberley river floodplain to destroy her people’s Mardoowarra, or living water.  

4. Tracey Anton, a Gippsland health worker doesn’t want her community exposed to health impacts from coal seam gas – or more accidents like the 45-day Hazelwood coal mine fire that left her elderly clients distressed and needing oxygen.

5. Phil Laird, whose family farmed Maules Creek for six generations, and National Coordinator of Lock the Gate alliance, doesn’t want a new coal mine will sucking three billion litres of water per year from his local river.

6. Peter Watts, an Arabunna man, doesn’t want an ill-equipped state government deciding to expand the Olympic Dam uranium mine on his traditional lands. 

And your voices will be heard.

It is far from perfect, but the EPBC Act is Australia’s key environment protection law. It needs to be strengthened not weakened. We need a new generation of environment laws. 

Stay tuned and will let you know as soon as the vote goes through.

Vested interests vs. you and me

It’s all over the news. A Renewable Energy Target review led by a panel of ‘experts’ with backgrounds in coal, gas and oil want to weaken or abolish Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET). No surprises.

But now, the government needs to make a choice. Will they listen to the vested interests of the big energy companies, or will they support billions of dollars of new clean energy investment, tens of thousands of jobs across the country and cutting millions of tonnes of pollution?

It’s crunch time! The government is set to announce their decision in a matter of weeks. But some Members of Parliament are refusing to reveal if they want to keep the RET as it is, or weaken or abolish it. MPs are accountable to you and we want their stance on record.

this or that?

We know that government is still deciding their final position on the RET. And we know that vested interests will be in their ear.

But we also know that Australians love clean energy, and they love our RET. Because it’s working. It supports clean energy. It cuts pollution. It should be maintained.

It’s up to us to make our voices heard, and to let our politicians know that their community wants a clean energy future.

Will you let your MP know you want them to protect the RET?

The only ones who benefit from reducing the RET are big polluting energy companies. Households and small businesses lose.

Even the modelling relied on by the Review confirms that the RET is bringing down the cost of energy over time. It’s making power cheaper! Let’s not put up with another scare campaign on electricity prices. It’s rubbish.

The government could make their decision as soon as two weeks from now.

Thanks for taking action,

Climate Change Program Manager, Australian Conservation Foundation

Update: The Dirty three energy companies respond

Thousands of ACF supporters have emailed the big energy companies, AGL, Origin and EnergyAustralia to ask them to stop lobbying the federal government to water down, or worse scrap, the Renewable Energy Target.

They don’t want more renewable energy in the mix because they rake in billions of dollars from their dirty coal-fired power stations.

Now, the companies are writing back. Here’s our take on their response.

Origin Letter to ‘Renewable Energy Target Supporters’

We thank Origin Energy for taking the time to address the issues raised by our supporters relating to the Renewable Energy Target. ACF does not, however, agree with Origin that the Renewable Energy Target (RET) should be reduced to a so-called ‘real’ 20% target by 2020. 

The RET currently mandates 41,000 GWh of renewable energy generation by 2020. Origin proposes weakening the RET so that only 27,000 GWh might come from large scale renewables by 2020. Combining the small scale and large scale schemes would mean this figure will be even less.

Australia’s efforts to transition to a cleaner energy mix have been successful so far. We should be celebrating and strengthening our efforts, not taking a step backwards. 

Reducing the RET now will only increase pollution, send clean energy investment overseas, and slow down the transition to a modern and clean energy mix for Australia.

A report commissioned by The Climate Institute, ACF and WWF showed that Origin Energy will make an estimated $1.5 billion in extra profits if the RET is weakened. Origin also owns the power station that would emit the largest amount of additional pollution under a reduced RET. 

Policy uncertainty surrounding the RET in Australia is already sending projects, along with investment and jobs, overseas.

Weakening the RET is not the best outcome if Australia wants clean energy and it’s unlikely to affect consumer prices. It will only encourage an increase in coal and gas-fired power generation. That’s the real bottom line.

AGL email re: Renewable Energy Target

Likewise, ACF welcomes AGL’s response to our supporters concerns regarding the RET. Despite previously supporting the RET, AGL have now withdrawn their support for the current policy settings. 

AGL points out that they have recently released a report examining a range of issues in the energy market, and highlighting the need to start retiring our dirtiest coal fired power stations. On that front, we heartily agree! 

But with this in mind, we need policies like the RET more than ever to help drive the transition from polluting coal to clean renewable energy alongside other measures to close old and inefficient power stations. 

Reducing the RET now will only increase pollution, send clean energy investment overseas, and slow down the transition to a modern and clean energy mix for Australia.