Electricity sector policies need to be consistent with a net zero emissions goal

ClimateWorks Australia today urged the Federal Government to ensure its policy decisions following the release of the Finkel Review put Australia on a trajectory of achieving the long-term goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

ClimateWorks Australia Acting CEO, Amandine Denis-Ryan said that policy recommended in  the Finkel Review, including a possible Clean Energy Target (CET), needed to be designed in a way that enabled Australia to meet its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.

“The Finkel Review considers an Emissions Intensity Scheme (EIS) and a Clean Energy Target for the electricity sector as credible ways to keep electricity reliable, affordable and reduce emissions.  Given the Government has ruled out an EIS, a CET has been recommended, which could support a wide range of technologies including renewables, gas and coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS).

“If the Government decides to introduce a CET it needs to make sure it's not incentivising technology that is in conflict with Australia achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Most important will be the Government’s decision on the emissions threshold and target for the CET. We urge the Government to consider the long term ambition required under our Paris commitments beyond the current 2030 target.

“Our research has shown that to limit global warming to 2 degrees, emissions in the electricity sector would need to be reduced by 50 to 70 per cent by 2030 below 2005 levels. This is in line with CSIRO’s Low Emissions Technology Roadmap released last week. The electricity sector will need to deliver more than the 28 per cent emission reductions by 2030 modelled in the Review, if we are to meet our current 2030 target at lowest cost. This has been acknowledged in the Review.

“Beyond 2030, we need to ensure that we deliver an electricity system which has near zero emissions by 2050, so any new generation built from today needs to take this long term view into account. For the electricity sector, our research suggests that no new coal fired power station would come on-line unless it has CCS. Gas generation without CCS is likely to have a limited role to play in complementing renewables in the short to medium term only.”

Ms Denis-Ryan said ClimateWorks welcomed the Finkel Review recommendations that could bring forward much needed changes to manage the demand side of the Australian energy market.

“Our research shows that initiatives to better manage energy use could reduce demand on the national grid during extreme peaks by more than 10 per cent or 3.8 gigawatts – the output of two Hazelwood power stations,” she said.

“In addition, energy efficiency can achieve about 130 MtCO2e abatement by 2030, nearly half of the abatement required to meet the Government’s emissions reduction target while reducing energy costs for all users.”

Media Contact: Aileen Muldoon 0419 112 503

* ClimateWorks Australia is an expert, independent adviser, committed to helping Australia transition to net zero emissions by 2050. It was co-founded through a partnership between The Myer Foundation and Monash University and works within the Monash Sustainable Development Institute.