Environment winner from momentous second Energy Ministers meeting

FEDERAL AND STATE MINISTERS have made a historic decision to consider the environment as part of the National Electricity Objective.

At this afternoon’s Energy National Cabinet meeting, in Canberra, Ministers from every State and Territory agreed to a landmark move to underpin the shift from fossil fuels towards 100 per cent renewables. The Ministers also agreed to add emissions to the National Energy Objectives.

The change could pave the way for tens of billions of dollars in new infrastructure, generation and storage that will fast track the shift from coal and gas to a renewables based grid. Ultimately, this will reduce the cost of living pressures currently facing Australians.

Greg Bourne, Climate Councillor, energy expert, former President of BP Australasia and former advisor to Margaret Thatcher, said: It’s about time.

“Although the devil will be in the detail, agreement to add emissions to the National Energy Objectives is momentous. What’s more, the cooperation between Federal, state and territory ministers is enormously positive. This could not be further from where we were less than two years ago when the previous Energy Minister faced a revolt from the states and territories over a national energy and emissions plan.

“Incorporating environmental concerns back into the National Electricity Objective (NEO) is a landmark move that finally brings Australia one step closer to a zero emissions energy system that addresses climate change.

“There are growing calls for energy planning to incorporate environmental concerns, including multiple court cases that challenge the approval of fossil fuel projects on climate grounds, and calls to include a ‘climate trigger’ into the country’s national environment law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

“We know that Australia must ratchet up its emissions reduction efforts and deliver far more than 43% cuts below 2005 levels by 2030. Policy changes like incorporating the environment into energy planning are essential for accelerating and scaling up Australia’s climate action.”

Andrew Stock, energy expert and Climate Councillor, added:

“This welcome decision marks the end of decades of the National Electricity Objective’s (NEO’s) failure to consider the impact of electricity generation on the climate and the environment.

“For too long, the NEO has allowed industry and regulators to ignore the impacts of electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions, enabling investment in polluting technologies like coal and gas, which have driven up emissions as well as electricity prices. This change paves the way for low cost, low emissions energy sources – renewable energy like wind and solar – to play a greater role in Australia’s energy system.

“Now, all states and territories must ensure this change gets legislated quickly. Climate science makes clear efforts by the fossil fuel industry to block initiatives like this are way out of time.”

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