Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Renewables Targeted

By Ian Lowe

A review of Australia’s renewable energy target appears to have been established with a particular outcome in mind.

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

The Australian government has controversially altered the planned review of its renewable energy target (RET). There had been bipartisan agreement for the target, introduced by the Howard government, for at least 20% of Australian electricity to come from renewable supply technologies by 2020. The legislation provided for a 2014 review by the Climate Change Authority, the intention being for the latest science to determine whether the target is sufficiently ambitious. Renewables provide 18% of world electricity today, so 20% is hardly an ambitious target.

Instead of a scientific assessment of progress in slowing climate change, the Abbott government has appointed a review panel with no apparent scientific expertise and clear links to fossil fuel industries. It has been asked to examine “the economic, environmental and social impacts of the RET scheme, in particular the impacts on electricity prices”. Emphasising the slant toward short-term economic issues, the terms of reference also require the panel to assess how the renewable energy target contributes to “reducing business costs”.

The composition of the panel has caused concern among scientists, environmental groups and the renewable energy industry. It will be chaired by Richard Warburton, a professional company director whose background includes a period of management in the petroleum industry but no...

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