London: Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg??? says his national energy guarantee could bring an end to ‘s acrimonious climate wars, despite South declaring it will scuttle the idea when it is presented to a meeting of the nation’s energy ministers later this month.
Mr Frydenberg is attempting to introduce the guarantee, which will require energy retailers to have enough dispatchable power as well as meet emissions reductions targets to help meets its international promise to reduce its carbon output by 26-28 per cent by 2030.
But South n energy minister Tom Koutsantonis???, whose government will seek a record fifth term in office, has said SA “cannot support” the guarantee.
“The reason is because at its core, it is an attack on renewable energy,” he is reported to have told a conference in Adelaide.
“It’s not a national energy guarantee at all, it is a guarantee for coal. It is an attempt to subsidise and keep alive coal-fired generation in the largest state in country.”
But Mr Frydenberg, speaking in London, called on the state energy ministers to come to the Council of n Governments meeting with an “open mind.”
“We’ll be taking modelling proposals to the COAG energy ministers meeting at the end of November,” he said. “I would ask those ministers to come to that meeting with an open mind and have a healthy debate. We have a long way to go with this policy but certainly early responses from the states [have] been positive..
“Obviously [South n Premier] Jay Wetherill has different issues and a different agenda but I would hope that he and Tom Koutsantonis??? would see the merit in this proposal and would be happy to consider it in the context of energy pricing,” he said. Round and round in circles?
Earlier, Mr Frydenberg told an -UK Chamber of Commerce breakfast gathering that the national energy guarantee proposal is the “simple piece of the [climate policy] jigsaw that has been missing for so long”.
“The NEG, representing the best advice of the energy experts, and a system which involves no taxes, no subsidies, no trading schemes and which meets the reliability requirements, and also the emissions reductions requirements and drives down prices at the same time, has been described for example by Bloomberg Energy Finance as a world-leading solution to a problem that is being faced by jurisdictions right around the world.”
But questions remain whether the government’s solution would be sustainable given previous attempts to curb emissions, such as the carbon pollution reduction scheme introduced by former prime minister Julia Gillard, have all fallen victim to politics.
“How do you see the politics lining up behind this or are we just going to go round and round in circles once again and find another solution with promise that ultimately fails?” one attendee asked.
Mr Frydenberg singled out for praise his Labor opponent Mark Butler, whom he said he respected and was able to talk to in a “frank and bipartisan” way.
“And I think they understand that this is the chance, this is the chance to end the so-called climate wars – in fact Mark wrote a book called Climate Wars,” he said.
Mr Frydenberg said his government’s guarantee proposal has “near-unanimous” support from businesses and the energy sector.
“I think the political debate has come a long way, I think people are tired of the argy-bargy that has gone on and I think when you see both supporting the NEG it does offer you an opportunity for a real breakthrough,” he said.
But Mr Butler has strongly criticised the guarantee as an “incredibly rushed job” that culminated in an “eight-page letter” that would take investment in clean energy backwards, as it does not lock in any commitments to either renewables or carbon reduction beyond 2030.
“We are taking a pretty negative view of at least the underpinnings of the NEG so far,” Mr Butler said in a recent speech.
“It doesn’t mean we are opposed to the principle of bringing a stable investment scheme into the national energy market architecture combining emissions and dispatchability imperatives.”
On Tuesday Mr Frydenberg will represent the United Nations climate change conference in Bonn, Germany which began last Monday.
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