The Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, has announced the Government's preliminary position on the Renewable Energy Target at the National Press Club this afternoon, as negotiations start between the Government and the ALP.
The Government's starting position is:
- slashing the Renewable Energy Target to a so-called "real" 20%;
- exempting all emissions intensive industries from the Renewable Energy Target, (including aluminium, zinc, cement etc);
- no change to household solar;
- ceasing 2 yearly reviews of the Renewable Energy Target.
The Abbott Government has changed its position dramatically as a result of the successful Save Solar Campaign.
It is just a few short months ago that they wanted to abolish the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme.
Of course this is a very positive development, but there is still along way to go and many concerns remain. There is no detail on this position at this stage, and we do not know what 'no change to household solar' means for commercial solar and the threshold between the small and large scale schemes.
The solar industry should give itself a real pat on the back for the strength of its community Save Solar campaign to date, but much more work needs to be done.
Whilst the spectre of the extreme Warburton Review looms large over the Government's thinking, the Government has simply failed to make the case for cutting the Renewable Energy Target.
The so-called "real 20%" would effectively mean a 60% cut in the Renewable Energy Target and would kill large-scale solar in its tracks.
The debate should not be about how much we should cut support for solar and the Renewable Energy Target. The debate must be about how much we expand our use of solar and achieve 50% renewable energy by 2030. Australians want more solar, not less.
This is just the beginning of the process, an opening ambit claim. Negotiations with Labor start at 3.30pm today and there is a very long way to go.
The final result will be in direct proportion to the amount of pressure the Government and Labor feel on this issue.
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