LEAN's response to the Finkel Review and Labor's attempts to deliver a bi-partisan solution

On Friday June 9, Australia's Chief Scientist Alan Finkel delivered his report, Blueprint for the future: Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market. Both the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten and the Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Mark Butler have said Labor is ready to negotiate with the Government to end the so called "climate wars". This is a genuine attempt to constructively address the security issues, spiralling prices and unchecked emissions currently plaguing the Australian electricity sector.  Below is LEAN's response to the report but more importantly to Labor's attempts to deliver a bi-partisan solution.  

1.       LEAN notes:

If adopted as is, the recommendations of the Finkel Review will not enable Australia to meet its obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement which commits countries to adopt measures to hold global warming well below 2°C, preferably 1.5°C. 

  • The Finkel Review delivers 26 to 28 percent emissions reduction on 2005 levels by 2030, significantly less than Labor's 45 percent policy. 
  • The Finkel Review delivers 42 percent renewable energy by 2030, significantly less than Labor's 50 percent policy
  • The Finkel Review delivers net zero carbon by 2070, significantly later than Labor's policy target of 2050.

2.       LEAN supports a bi-partisan approach to management of the electricity system as:

  • it is only countries with a bi-partisan approach that are effectively delivering climate mitigation outcomes. Partisanship on this issue has been poisonous. 
  • the electricity sector is in crisis. Years of inaction and the attendant price increases are severely impacting households and businesses. 
  • reliable electricity is an essential resource for our economy and society.

There are three goals for our electricity system - reliability, affordability and rapid decarbonisation. These should be the explicit goal of national and state governments and of the National Electricity Market (NEM) and the laws that govern it.

3.       LEAN does not support a bi-partisan approach to climate and energy policy at any price. These changes will impact the electricity system for years to come and Labor should not commit to piece-meal or inadequate solutions. LEAN therefore:

  • Reiterates the statement of the Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, the Hon. Mark Butler MP that any "Clean Energy Target" that supports new coal fired generation is an oxymoron.  LEAN believes that all new generation in our electricity system should not include coal. 
  • Does not support gas as a long-term part of our generation mix.  LEAN believes that while gas can provide back up in the short term, incentives should be focused on renewable energy and storage. 
  • Does not support the expansion of unconventional gas extraction. 
  • Believes our electricity system should be designed with consumers as the key stakeholders, not industry players and their profits. Many of the problems currently plaguing the energy sector relate to the unhealthy influence of vested interests in policy setting.
  • Believes any solution that simply adds more layers of bureaucracy without addressing the fundamental weaknesses of the current governance of the NEM is problematic. 
  • Believes Australia's commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement must be a fundamental part of any reform and ramping up ambition and the speed of decarbonisation at a later date must be enabled in any agreement made.

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