Greens unveil push for 90% target for renewable energy by 2030

Policy proposes new authority to oversee $5bn of construction in clean energy generation and a 15-year pipeline of projects through direct investment

The Greens will seek to build momentum for more ambitious action on climate change by calling for the creation of a new government authority to help Australia reach a 90% target for renewable energy by 2030.

The leader of the Greens, Richard Di Natale, said the policy to be released on Sunday showed the type of “real leadership” the country should display as world leaders prepared for climate negotiations in Paris next month.

The party has previously adopted a goal of ensuring Australia obtains 90% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, but the new policy document spells out how this could be achieved.

It proposes the establishment of a new $500m authority, to be known as RenewAustralia, which would “plan and drive the transition to a new clean energy system to leverage $5bn of construction in new energy generation over the next four years”.

The authority would deliver a 15-year pipeline of clean energy projects through direct investment and reverse auctions for the construction of lowest-cost assets.

It would work alongside existing agencies – including the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the CSIRO – and new energy companies to bring clean technology innovation through to commercial use and ready for export.

The Greens have also proposed the creation of a $1bn clean energy transition fund to help coal workers and communities adapt, and the implementation of pollution standards to enable “the gradual, staged closure of coal fired power stations” starting with Hazelwood in Victoria.

The energy regulator would have the power to order the decommissioning of power generators once a station exceeded the set pollution limit. But transition plans and the adjustment fund would “ensure no coal worker is left behind”, the policy document says.

The Greens suggest the cost of the plan could be met by the reintroduction of a carbon price, the abolition of fossil fuel subsidies, and changes to superannuation tax concessions for high income earners.

“A market-based trading scheme and a government-led energy transformation reinforce one another to rapidly bring down pollution and encourage innovation,” the policy document says.

Greens MP Adam Bandt said the party also wanted to double the country’s energy efficiency by 2030.

Di Natale said the ambitious plan would “power the new economy and create thousands of jobs”.

“While both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten talk about tackling climate change, they have locked us into the industries of the last century, supporting coal and vested interests,” he said.

“Charting a course for a more confident, prosperous and healthy Australia needs much more than empty rhetoric; it needs real leadership.”

Greens senator Larissa Waters called on Turnbull to take more ambitious emission reduction targets to the Paris summit than the ones promised by his predecessor, Tony Abbott.

“Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t deserve to be applauded simply for not being Tony Abbott,” Waters said.

In August, the Abbott government said Australia would reduce greenhouse gas emissions so they were 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Turnbull indicated after taking the leadership in September he would adopt the “very substantial” previously announced target. The prime minister has also defended the government’s emissions reduction fund – a key plank of the “direct action” policies he previously criticised - but has left the door open to policy changes when the “safeguards” mechanism is reviewed in 2017.

Labor has foreshadowed its climate policy will include an emissions trading scheme linked to international markets and “an ambitious new goal” for 50% of electricity to be generated by renewable energy by 2030.


Daniel Hurst Political correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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