The Coalition Government’s Climate Solutions Package announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison has disappointed the clean energy industry.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said the announcement is no substitute for strong energy policy.

“Any policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which ignores the need to transition our emissions intensive energy sector – the largest source of emissions in the Australian economy – to clean energy is not taking the matter seriously. It also misses a golden opportunity to incentivise further private investment, further lower energy prices and create jobs,” Thornton said.

As part of the package the government will:

  • top up the existing Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), which was established by the Abbott Government, with $200 million a year over 10 years;
  • build a second Bass Strait interconnector;
  • press ahead with Snowy Hydro 2.0;
  • strengthen energy efficiency measures for business and households including expanding the energy ratings labels system, and;
  • develop an electric vehicle strategy.

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said the federal government is doubling down on a bad policy.

“Emissions have continued to rise every year for the past four years under the current ERF policy. Pumping funding into a bad policy is like trying to inflate slashed tyres on a bike – a waste of time, effort and money,” McKenzie says.

The emissions reduction fund is being used to prop up fossil fuels, McKenzie says, with funding going towards a fossil fuel power plant for one of the world’s biggest gold mines. “This is justified on the grounds that the new fossil fuel power plant will be ‘cleaner’ than the one it will replace. This beggars belief.”

At the CEC, Thornton says the new fund will not apply to the energy generation sector, which may put a brake on momentum created by $20 billion of private investment in large-scale renewable energy being built behind the Renewable Energy Target.

“All the incredible expertise and capacity the industry has built could be lost without policy certainty beyond 2020,” Thornton said.

“As the Clean Energy Council outlined recently in a series of policy recommendations for the upcoming federal election, Australia is in desperate need of a long-term energy policy that includes a target for reducing emissions across the electricity sector.

“Along with many other organisations such as the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group, the Clean Energy Council backed the government’s efforts to deliver cheap, clean and reliable energy through its National Energy Guarantee.”

Thornton said the funding for a second Bass Strait interconnector to provide a stronger link between the mainland and Tasmania’s hydro generation, pumped hydro storage and other renewable resources will help to unlock Tasmania’s enormous renewables potential and is very welcome.