Well over a year of job-destroying, investment-stalling wrangling over Australia’s renewable energy target (RET) came to an end last night, with the Abbott Government’s attack on clean energy successfully getting the 2020 target cut from 41,000GWh by 2020 to 33,000GWh. “RET destruction day” makes Australia the first developed country to cut its renewable energy target, another inauspicious development given it was also the first to remove a working carbon price. While the deal finally gives the renewable industry – particularly rooftop solar – some certainty to move forward, it is a small comfort given the Government has created a laughable “wind farm commissioner” to investigate baseless health complaints. By comparison, there is no “coal commissioner” investigating the well-documented and significant health impacts of that industry, and no close official scrutiny of the billions in subsidies handed to the coal industry, or the tax breaks and government access its lobby groups enjoy. All signs point to the Abbott government listening to demonstrably wrong opinions on wind, such as Alan Moran’s, leaving it “stuck in the past” defending fossil fuels while the rest of the world – including the G7, China, India (and those investing in India), and even Saudi Arabia – leave it behind to seize the many economic, social, health and environmental benefits that come with the clean energy transition.
- Share: Abbott govt fails the community with RET cut: Look to the states for renewable energy leadership (Yes2Renewables)
- Share: Commissioner to be appointed for wind farms (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Hashtags in use: #RET #Wind #Solar #Renewables #AllTheCommissioners
- Cartoon: Dr Onthemoon’s self diagnosis windfarm syndrome check list! (The Guardian)
- The Government’s push to cut the renewable energy target has finally succeeded, passing the Senate and providing the industry some bitter certainty. While the certainty will lead to more than $40 billion of investment and the creation of 15,200 jobs over the life of the RET, the new bill will see the original investment in renewables cut by around $5 billion and the loss of thousands of potential new jobs, just as the rest of the world speeds up the clean energy transition.
- The deal bafflingly allows native timber to be burned and included in the target, and comes with the establishment of a “wind commissioner” to deal with resident complaints. The logic of the “wind commissioner” in particular has been mercilessly mocked, but when serious, proven health and economic impacts from coal are ignored and anecdotes and unproven claims are given credence, it is hard to take such decisions seriously. No credible study anywhere in the world has ever found evidence of health impacts from wind turbines – only the opposite. What researchers do tend to find is links between anti-wind group propaganda and health claims, or evidence debunking any claims of “wind turbine syndrome”.
- Australia’s energy future is not in the ground, it’s above it. While the Abbott government has done its best to hamstring wind, it is supporting rooftop solar as it knows it has no hope of slowing it down. Australians overwhelmingly support solar, and with battery storage on the horizon and states attempting to discourage the transition by playing with fixed charges and feed in tariffs to make solar less attractive, going off grid is only going to become more attractive.
- Renewable energy target slashed, wind farm commissioner to be established (Brisbane Times)
- Senate passes RET bill, cut to wind farms becomes law (RenewEconomy)
- Renewable Energy Target: Legislation to cut RET passes Federal Parliament (ABC)
- At-a-glance: The Renewable Energy Target (SBS)
- #allthecommissioners: Twitter makes some more essential appointments (The Guardian)
- A what?!… Industry responds to Abbott’s wind farm commissioner proposal (RenewEconomy)
- Abbott’s wind syndrome vs Doctors’ global climate plea (Climate Spectator)
- Wind commissioner? Let’s have a coal commissioner too (The Conversation)
- How much does wind energy cost? Debunking the myths (The Conversation)
- Abbott should stop tilting at windmills – they’re the price we pay for progress (The Age)
- Coalition details strategy to boost solar at expense of wind (RenewEconomy)
- Solar Boom: Global Solar Market Could Triple in 5 Years (The Motley Fool)
- Has the sun set on fossil fuels? (The Motley Fool [$])
- Australian Government ‘stuck in the past’ defending fossil fuels, descendant of John D Rockefeller says (ABC)
- Renewable Energy Target: Greens accuse Government of creating ‘dead koala certificates’ (ABC)
Tools and resources
- Calculator: 2050 pathways to decarbonisation for Australia (ClimateWorks)
- Report: NHMRC Statement and Information Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health (NHMRC)
- Study: Can expectations produce symptoms from infrasound associated with wind turbines? (PsychNET)
- Study: Spatio-temporal differences in the history of health and noise complaints about Australian wind farms: evidence for the psychogenic, “communicated disease” hypothesis (University of Sydney)
Images and video
- Video: How does wind energy work? (BTN ABC)
- Images: Commissioner for coal (Australian Greens), Direct FTE in renewable energy (ABS), Albany Wind Farm (Lawrence Murray)
- “The Abbott Government has done another deal on the side to strangle the wind industry with unfair regulations, which don’t apply to industries with genuine health impacts, like coal and gas. The Liberal and Labor parties have just cost Australians thousands of jobs, billions in investment and condemned native forests to be burnt. Labor also failed to support our amendment to lift the ban on more ambitious state and territory renewable energy targets, even though this is what some of their own state governments want.” Australian Greens Deputy Leader and climate change spokesperson, Senator Larissa Waters.
- “While this has been a challenging process, and we are disappointed by the level of reduction of the target for large-scale renewable energy, the passage of this legislation provides the platform for a doubling of renewables over the next five years. The legislation also removes the two-yearly reviews of the scheme and ensures no changes to the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, which is great news for thousands of people working in the rooftop solar and solar hot water sectors. [T]his will see a return to work for our industry, with between 30-50 major renewable energy projects and hundreds of medium-sized projects to be built over the next five years.” Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton.
- “Two years ago, by way of illustration, the Prime Minister and Mr Hunt got rid of the Climate Change Commissioner, Tim Flannery, ostensibly on the grounds that he was too expensive and that really it was the Environment Department’s responsibility to look at climate change. The Wind Farm Commissioner – whose job, according to Mr Hunt’s letter, will be to receive complaints and pass them along to the relevant state authorities – is an entirely different proposition, of course.” Journalist Annabel Crabb.
- “We are going back to using dirty medieval technology that pretends to be sustainable and clean. In reality it will undermine real renewables like solar and wind. It will produce more emissions than burning coal and cause immense loss of ecosystems, wildlife and our greatest carbon stores. It’s hard to imagine a worse scenario.” The Australian Forests and Climate Alliance (AFCA).
- “What we did recently in the Senate was to reduce, Alan, capital R-E-D-U-C-E, the number of these things that we are going to get in the future … I frankly would have likely to have reduced the number a lot more but we got the best deal we could out of the Senate and if we hadn’t had a deal, Alan, we would have been stuck with even more of these things … What we are managing to do through this admittedly imperfect deal with the Senate is to reduce the growth rate of this particular sector as much as the current Senate would allow us to do.” Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
- “The value of coal stock in the United States has gone down 60 to 90 per cent. This is a global phenomenon and we want to get out of those because we see the fossil fuel investments as risky. If you look just at the financial data in Australia … The value of coal stocks has gone down by 71 per cent, so you’ve lost a lot of money if you’ve been in coal. You look at Australia, which is such a fragile environment in so many ways, and you think of what’s planned for the Galilee Basin. It is just heartbreaking and I just don’t understand. In my mind Australia’s an extremely progressive country that has been an international player on so many issues. It is baffling to me why the current Australian Government is stuck in the past rather than looking towards the future and becoming part of the solution.” Chair of the $1.1 billion Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Valerie Rockefeller Wayne.
Related Tree Alerts
- Renewable energy hit record high in 2014 – report
- Another day, another study finds no health impacts from wind turbines
- Yet more studies to confirm: No, wind farms don’t create health problems
- Renewable Energy Target report ‘written by climate deniers, for climate deniers’
- Evidence inconveniently undermines Government’s anti-renewable push
- Climate action a major health opportunity, inaction may negate 50 years of gains
- RT @ParisandEve Major parties created ‘dead koala certificates’ in RET deal: Greens abc.net.au/news/2015-06-2…
- RT @otiose94 Legislation to cut #RET passes #Senate @GregHuntMP #15261 pic.twitter.com/PuxwRSnTJ8 #NPC wp.me/p2WW3S-Gg #auspol
- RT @adsteratik Remember how the burning of native forests in the #RET was a “deal breaker” for @AustralianLabor? Yeah…not so much… #auspol@thedeshman