The energy white paper released today by Minister Ian Macfarlane looks more to the past than to the future, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.
“It’s hard to believe a government of an advanced developed nation in the second decade of the 21st Century can release a vision for an energy future that pays so little attention to climate change,” said ACF’s climate change program manager Victoria McKenzie-McHarg.
“The white paper imagines a future in which most of our energy continues to come from coal and gas, even when we know these sources are polluting and unsustainable.
“Most of the companies in ACF’s recently released list of Australia’s Top 10 Climate Polluters are energy companies, highlighting the need for serious reform of this sector.
“But instead of preparing us for a sustainable energy future, this blueprint advocates cuts to the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and ARENA and maintains a strong emphasis on energy exports – from dirty coal to dangerous uranium.
“The government’s own modelling of the renewable energy target showed under most scenarios maintaining the RET would result in lower prices to consumers.
“In its first year of operation, the CEFC invested $900 million in partnership with the private sector, resulting in total investment of more than $3 billion. ARENA has completed 35 projects and has 200 more projects in the pipeline.
“Rather than plan for a clean future, this paper props up last century’s energy sources.
“We welcome the paper’s commitment to energy productivity and the acknowledgement that there is enormous potential in becoming more efficient with how we use energy in our homes, businesses and industry.
“The government’s threats to cut back the RET have already undermined Australia’s clean energy potential, causing new investment in large projects to drop by 88 per cent in 2014.
“When most Australians want more clean energy, it makes no sense to keep Australia reliant on the big polluting energy sources of the 20th Century.”