The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) remains deeply concerned that the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) will lock-in failure on climate change, despite minor concessions from the Turnbull Government in its latest design document.

The final design document for the Commonwealth elements of the NEG confirms the Turnbull Government will implement a woefully inadequate 26 per cent climate pollution cut from electricity generation by 2030 ‑ a target that puts undue pressure on other industries, hinders clean energy deployment, and is out of step with the action needed to halt climate damage.

While there will be a review in 2024, it is designed in a way that makes it difficult to significantly ramp-up ambition to reduce climate pollution before 2030. The final design document states that annual targets will be set in Commonwealth legislation out to 2030. Review or no review in 2024—changing those legislated ‘do nothing’ targets would not be certain or immediate. 

ACF Chief Executive Officer, Kelly O’Shanassy, said: ““The NEG is reprehensible when it comes to action on climate change and drives investment in clean energy off the cliff for at least a decade.

“Climate damage is accelerating. Our communities are facing more extreme droughts, heat and floods. Our Great Barrier Reef is getting hammered by warming oceans and coral bleaching.

“We need real climate leadership from our elected representatives. State governments and the Federal Parliament must demand more from the Turnbull Government to ensure the NEG is truly ambitious and more flexible before signing on.

“The Commonwealth’s own modelling shows that the woeful NEG target will achieve almost no additional cuts to climate pollution to 2030. There is no way this target can stand – it should be changed right now.

“Waiting until 2024 to review a target everybody already knows is inadequate just delays the urgent action needed to halt Australia’s rising climate pollution.

“And locking a weak target in legislation is a recipe for continuing uncertainty. We must take the politics out of climate change and allow future governments to make emissions targets more ambitious without another major legislative fight.

“We note the Turnbull Government is now proposing a more modest offset regime that allows less ways for industry to escape their pollution reduction obligations. But we are concerned that unnecessary carve outs for trade-focused heavy industry remain.”

To cut carbon pollution, build clean energy, and bring down power bills, the NEG needs to be:

  1. Climate-safe: Establish an emissions target for 2030 and a trajectory for the NEG that is consistent with Australia’s commitment to limit global warming to 1.5-2°C and commitment to reach net zero emissions economy-wide well before 2050.
  2. Certain and bankable: Insert a provision in the National Electricity Laws and national legislation that requires all future targets to be stronger than the previous target.
  3. Easy to scale-up: Ensure there is a clear notice period to change the emissions reduction target and make it three years, not five years, and reviewable every year.
  4. A floor, not a ceiling: Ensure there is no barrier to states, territories and organisations making their renewable energy investments ‘additional’ to the NEG.
  5. Evidence-based: Ensure that the electricity sector emissions targets are based on robust independent advice such as that of the Climate Change Authority.
  6. Fair: Do not provide an exclusion for emissions intensive trade exposed (EITE) industries and make the registry transparent to help prevent big power companies ripping off consumers.
  7. A driver to build clean energy: Retailers should not be able to offset their pollution by purchasing credits in Australia or overseas to meet the emissions requirement.

ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Tom Arup on 0402 482 910. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email action@acf.org.au.