The independent review of the national electricity market, agreed to by the COAG Energy Council today, will only be useful if it faces up to the inescapable realities of the future of energy in a changing climate, The Climate Institute said.

“A serious review about energy security needs to face up to some hard facts about the world,” The Climate Institute deputy CEO Erwin Jackson said today.

“Our electricity system needs to adapt to trends in global technology and investment, consumer choices and climate commitments, which have now become unstoppable. It needs to enable Australia to do its bit under the Paris agreement, to achieve net zero emissions. And it needs to adapt to a changing climate and more extreme weather. You can’t integrate climate and energy policy if you assume climate change impacts, like more severe storms and heat waves, don’t exist.

“With this in mind, the risk of COAG’s agreement today to review the national electricity market is that it falls short of the progress required,” he said.

“We strongly encourage the Chief Scientist to consider the changing climate on electricity infrastructure and ensure that he stress tests his recommendations against the Paris Agreement’s goal of achieving net zero emissions.”

Climate Institute head of policy Olivia Kember welcomed the review’s investigation into “potential changes to national policy, legislative and rule changes”.

However, she warned these changes needed to enable long-term planning and investment.

“The range of factors that contributed to the SA blackout – transmission failures, wind farm disconnections, back-up diesel generation failures, system re-start failures – clearly illustrate that the system as a whole is insufficiently secure, so focusing on isolated elements isn’t a solution,” she said.

“For the last decade policymakers have tinkered with different parts of the power system without planning for its future. This has made the system more fragile, more costly to run and for consumers, and more polluting than it should be.

“Our national energy market framework urgently needs to evolve to better integrate all these new features into an effective and efficient whole, which produces affordable, reliable electricity while decarbonising enough for Australia to live up to its international climate commitments under the Paris Agreement,” she said.