Sunday, August 16, 2009

Australian Government to Split Renewable Energy from Emissions Bill

By Rich Bowden

Img: Wind turbines. Credit: Moe/flickr

The Australian Government has moved to ensure the passing of renewable energy legislation in the Senate by decoupling a 20 percent renewables target by 2020 from its more controversial carbon emissions trading bill. The contentious legislation was rejected in the country's Senate earlier in the week where the government has insufficient numbers to ensure the bill's passage.

The Liberal/National Opposition and third parties had indicated their willingness to pass the renewable energy target but refused to do so due to it being linked to the government's Emissions Trading Scheme. In an interview with Channel Nine's Laurie Oakes this morning, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard referred to the move as "safeguarding our renewable Energy Target Legislation."

Clearly blaming the Opposition for leading the obtruction over both the Renewable Energy Targets and Carbon Emission legislation, Gillard said: "Obviously the best thing here for tackling climate change is that the Liberal Party stops getting in the way and allows both the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and our Renewable Energy Target Legislation through."

"But we're in a world of Liberal obstruction, because of their divisions, so we are safeguarding our renewable Energy Target Legislation so it can come into effect, even if the Liberal Party continues to block the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme."

Promote Investment

Assisting Minister for Climate Change, Greg Combet, was quoted by Channel Ten as saying the design by the government to yield to environmental groups' calls to split the legislation was made to ensure the passage of the renewable energy component of the bill in the Senate.

Mr Combet said it would promote much-needed investment in Australia's renewable energy sector.

"What we're concerned to do is to ensure that the renewable energy legislation can get through Parliament, because that's going to unlock a lot of investment in renewable energy sources like solar power, or wind power or geothermal energy," he said.

However the federal Opposition has accused the government of "playing politics" on the issue, saying it had only linked the renewable energy scheme to the carbon emission reduction legislation to pass the entire bill.

Speaking to the ABC's Insiders, Opposition frontbencher Christopher Pyne said:

"What the Government wanted last Thursday was the beginning of a trigger for an election - it was purely politics," he said.

"That's why the Renewable Energy Target bill never needed to be part of that emissions trading scheme bill, and it's of no surprise to me at all that they will decouple that bill."

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