Nov 12, 2014 - The opposition Labour Party in Australia is no longer willing to continue with negotiations over the ruling government’s proposal to trim the 2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET) to a "real" 20% of demand.
Continuing the talks, which have been going on for several weeks now, is not worthwhile as there are not prospects of reaching an agreement, the Opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler said in a letter to Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane on Tuesday. The two parties’ positions are too far apart and Labour could not accept the government’s stance, he stated.
According to the Opposition, the government’s proposal corresponds to a 40% reduction of the target, which is to put the industry at a standstill.
In October, Australia’s ruling party presented a proposal to cut the RET to a "real" 20% of demand, or around 26,000-27,000 GWh. This would be a significant reduction from the existing 41,000 GWh annual renewable power target by 2020. The Labour Party did not accept the proposal, which led to the prolonged negotiations.
The RET, the instrument promoting wind, solar and other renewable energy projects in Australia, was functioning quite well until in February 2014 the government appointed global warming skeptic Dick Warburton to review it. This was a major blow for many domestic and foreign renewable project developers in the country. This week, the Climate Council said in a new report that investment in clean energy projects has slumped by 70% in 2014 as investor appetite was hurt by the government’s lack of commitment to renewable energy. As a result, Australia has gone from "leader to laggard" in energy projects, the Climate Council pointed out.
Minister Ian Macfarlane has said, as cited by local media, that he would continue talks with the crossbenchers. The government will now need to hold negotiations with the Palmer United Party (PUP) to be able to make any changes to the green target. However, PUP’s leader Clive Palmer has committed to reject any move aiming to scale down or abandon the RET.
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