Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Finkel Review Hedges Its Bets

By AusSMC

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, has unveiled a blueprint for the national electricity market that “risks falling short of Australia’s task and opportunities in reducing carbon emissions”.

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“Finkel offers a chance to start breaking down the political deadlock over energy and climate policy. The report rightly points out the need for policy and markets to be adapted to the realities of new technologies, and the need to integrate emissions reductions policy with energy policy. Importantly, Finkel emphasises the cost that continued policy uncertainty would have, and shows scenarios where electricity prices are lower under a stable low-emissions policy framework than under continued uncertainty. Policy-makers should take heart to embrace reform to markets and policy, and to do so with a long-term trajectory in mind.

The clean energy target recommendation seems calibrated to political realities, as an emissions trading scheme is politically out of the question for the current government and an emissions intensity scheme was also rejected by government. How effective a clean energy target would be depends on the ambition that government fills it with, its design and implementation, and on whether industry will have confidence to invest on the basis of it. That, in turn, requires political stability around energy policy.

However, the low-carbon ambition that Finkel suggests risks falling short of Australia’s task and opportunities in reducing carbon emissions. Finkel calls for a minimum 28% reduction in carbon emissions from electricity by 2030,...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.