Labor has announced plans for a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, with the police expected to be formally announced at this weekend’s national ALP conference in Melbourne.
The Coalition has aimed for around 23 per cent of Australia’s energy to come from renewables by 2020, but has not yet settled on its own post-2020 target.
The Climate Institute said the target could be a step towards the energy solutions required for Australia to remain internationally competitive.
“Major economies are now making clean energy investments central to their future economic prosperity. To remain competitive with other countries we must modernise and clean up our old, polluting and inefficient power sector,” said CEO John Connor.
“A strong and growing renewable energy industry is critical if we are to achieve the overall goal both major parties have signed up to – limiting global warming to less than 2°C. Achieving this goal will require a near zero emissions power sector before 2050.
“We welcome this new target and achieving it will require a toolbox of policy solutions.
“The key barrier to modernising our power sector is retiring and replacing our outdated and polluting coal fired generation fleet. It makes little sense to have half of our power generation renewables if the other half is dominated by the most polluting generation technology – brown coal.
“Whatever pollution or clean energy goals the major parties announce, these will only be delivered and investment unlocked with a scalable, durable and effective toolbox of policies to achieve the targets. Without this, global capital and clean energy investors will continue to flee Australia to those countries like China who are already delivering,” concluded Connor.
The Electrical Trades Union has also welcomed the policy saying it is a vital response to climate change that would also drive job creation.
The union said that the bold plan would need to be coupled with appropriate support for existing energy workers, providing them with the skills and opportunities to transition from traditional technologies.
ETU national secretary Allen Hicks praised the announcement, and said it heralded the return of long overdue leadership in the area of renewable energy and the nation’s response to the global challenge of climate change.
“In just two years, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has overseen uncertainty and job losses in the burgeoning renewable energy sector, with senseless attacks apparently aimed at destroying a growth industry that already employs tens of thousands of Australians,” Mr Hicks said.
“Today’s announcement comes in stark contrast to that approach, and marks the arrival of a real vision for the renewables sector.”
Mr Hicks said he hoped the plan would be the first step in developing an energy policy that was driven by science and innovation, rather than ideology and politics.
“Australia is abundant in renewable energy sources and with fast changing technological development, such as network battery storage, the electricity sector is on the cusp of a revolutionary change,” he said.
“We need a long-term practical plan for how Australia is going to survive and thrive in a renewable energy future.
“But this announcement must also be followed by a modernisation roadmap for workers in traditional energy production areas, including industry assistance, retraining and up-skilling of power workers, to ensure they are not left behind in the transition to renewables.
“There also needs to be clarity and certainty provided to the business community, with confirmation that it is safe and viable to invest in the renewable energy sector over the long term.”