Labor poised to sign off on long-awaited energy plan

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Labor's spokesman on climate change and energy Mark Butler has previously said Labor would consider adopting the National Energy Guarantee.

Labor’s spokesman on climate change and energy Mark Butler has previously said Labor would consider adopting the National Energy Guarantee.Credit:AAP

Labor’s climate change and energy spokesman Mark Butler has previously said his party was open to adopting a framework similar to the National Energy Guarantee, which had broad business support and underwent almost a year of development by the Energy Security Board.

Fairfax Media understands the policy to be considered on Monday is modelled on the guarantee, but the party is also working towards a much broader set of measures as it seeks to compete with the government’s pledge to bring down power prices and shore up supplies.

Labor says its 45 per cent emissions reduction target for the electricity sector would drive renewable investment to 50 per cent of generation by 2030. It has also pledged to move Australia towards zero net emissions by 2050.

Mr Butler’s office declined to comment.

Mr Butler has previously said the government should not have walked away from the National Energy Guarantee, which “was a policy that Scott Morrison himself said had broader support than any initiative he had seen in his 10 years in Parliament”.

Meantime, a new analysis has found carbon capture and storage – a technology considered key to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change – had failed to meet any global or local targets.

The Australia Institute says its research shows the best way to reduce Australia’s emissions is through more renewables.

The Australia Institute says its research shows the best way to reduce Australia’s emissions is through more renewables.Credit:Jo Buchanan

Carbon capture and storage involves trapping carbon dioxide at the point of emission, which is then stored, often underground in geological formations. It is often touted as a way to reduce emissions from coal-fired power stations.

Research by the Australia Institute’s climate and energy program has found that, around the world, no targets have been met for either the number of projects in operation or the amount of carbon dioxide stored each year.

Trouble-plagued projects include Chevron’s Gorgon venture in Western Australia, which aims to capture carbon dioxide from a gas field and inject it into undersea storage. The injection has been delayed due to technical issues, allowing greenhouse gas from the project to flow into the atmosphere.

The institute’s Richie Merzian said the research showed carbon capture and storage was unviable and “the best way to reduce Australia’s emissions is through more renewables and the phasing out of fossil fuels”.

The influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN body, last month said so-called “negative emissions” technology such as carbon capture and storage would be needed if the world was to avoid disastrous global warming above 1.5 degrees.

Nicole Hasham is environment and energy correspondent for The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times and WAtoday.

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