I’m guessing we’ll be hearing a lot about the Renewawble Energy Target (RET) over the next few weeks so today we’re going to chat about what RET actually means, why Australia needs it and how the government is trying to get rid of it. I’ll also give you some ideas on how to show your support for the renewable energy target if you feel compelled to do so (which I hope you do!)
What is the renewable energy target?
The RET is a federal government policy put in place to ensure 20 per cent of Australia’s energy needs comes from renewable sources (wind, solar, geothermal ect) by 2020. It started out modestly in 2001 with a 2 per cent goal; this was increased to 20 per cent in 2009 in the light of emerging climate-change science.
Why all the fuss?
The RET is a bipartisan policy (meaning both parties agree on it) but recent actions by the government have shown that Labor and the LNP have very different ideas on the role of the RET in Australia’s future. The policy is reviewed every two years and, this year, the PM selected his very own review panel lead by a guy who happens to be a climate-change denier.
Although the panel’s findings showed that the RET has been meeting its goals of stimulating the renewable energy industry and meeting the 20 per cent target, the panel’s recommendations were that the target be drastically reduced or the policy scrapped all together. Labor did not accept these recommendations and tried negotiating with the LNP, but the government now refuses to budge and is proposing the renewable energy target be cut by 40 per cent.
10 reasons Australia needs the RET in its current form
- It was working! The renewable energy sector was thriving, creating jobs and small businesses.
- Currently, 24,000 people work in renewable energy and a further 18,000 jobs are predicted by 2020.
- Uncertainty has damaged the industry: investments are down a whopping 70 per cent, major renewable energy projects are on hold, even household solar is affected by the attitude of our government.
- The 20 per cent target is still modest compared to global targets.
- Scaling back the RET makes Australia seem backwards. We were once leaders in this field!
- The RET increases competition in the energy market meaning savings for householders.
- It costs taxpayers nothing.
- Household power bills will increase if the RET is scrapped (see the infographic below).
- Large-scale renewable energy projects can stimulate regional economies.
- The International Panel on Climate Change has recommended global emissions drop by 40 to 70 per cent by 2050 if we are to stall climate change at 2 degrees.
Read more about why we need the RET on the Clean Energy Council website.
What can I do to protect the RET?
It’s widely reported that eighty per cent of Aussies support renewable energy. And why wouldn’t we? It’s better for the environment in so many ways and ultimately cheaper (we currently pay the highest prices for electricity in the OECD). But the government is hell bent on following its “fossil fuels = growth economy” path that it is failing to see the bigger picture.
Luckily, we live in a democracy. And, every now and then, we need to flex our muscles within that system to remind our leaders they represent the people—not their own vested interests.
Here’s what you need to do: contact your MP and tell him/her you do not support any changes to the RET.
I know it’s a big ask and we’re all outrageously busy, but parliament has resumed and the future of the renewable energy target is on the line so please take the time to email your member of parliament. Here are some tips on writing to your MP, including my two most recent letters to Luke Howarth in the seat of Petrie. Use this website to contact your MP directly.