Australia’s energy policy discord

4th June 2014

Nigel Morris, Solar Business Services, reports (3/6/14) on the discord in Australia's energy policy. Here are some extracts:

" ... on Saturday the 31st of May a somewhat profound deadline passed. You see, when the Carbon Price legislation was developed a seemingly innocuous clause was included in the Clean Energy Act 0f 2011 which required the Carbon Price to be shifted from the default target of 5% to an emissions cap. In simple terms, the legislation says that in the event that no cap is set by Government, the target defaults to a formula. ... According to the Greens Christine Milne, this clause was inserted ... to insure against a lack of attention to detail and define a default position and it turns out that in today’s terms, this default position effectively lifts the 5% target by more than three times, to 18%. That’s right, Australia is now running under legislation that requires us to reduce emissions by 18%, not 5% by 2020.

"Now clearly, Prime Minister Abbott didn’t intend for this happen. I’d hazard a guess that the majority of his Ministry didn’t intend for this to happen. I’d even go so far as to say that they were all (obviously) completely unaware that the trigger even existed until they read the paper over their morning coffee. I can almost picture the jaw dropping, coffee spurting reaction. What this seemingly innocuous but actually quite profound situation exemplifies in the most stark terms is that they have no bloody idea.

"Where it leaves the Government is in a very complex situation. You can imagine that had they been paying attention, they would have tried to find a way to tweak or at least deal with the issue, to avoid their anti-climate change stance being eroded by this new target coming into force by default. However, that would have required them to engage in debate on a policy that they had committed to throwing out on a blood oath; but have so far failed to do. Letting it engage by default makes them look clumsy at best and incapable at worst. However, by letting this one slip they now have a double whammy to deal with on the issue of the Carbon Price. ...

"If the Government doesn’t get its repeal through it essentially has to either water down or substantially change its repeal plans, or call a double dissolution. Either way, it’s in a pickle. The fact that the target has suddenly jumped to 18% just add’s a whole new dimension to this issue. By accident and incredibly ironically, one of the worlds most anti-climate and anti-renewables Governments  should be enacting policies that help it meet the target it is required by law to implement."

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