Queensland has today scored a major win for climate action with a national agreement to enshrine emissions reductions objectives into laws governing Australia’s energy market.
Energy Minister Mick de Brenni described an agreement from all States and Territories and the Commonwealth to accelerate drafting of the law changes as a ‘watershed moment’ in national energy policy.
“The energy sector is Queensland’s largest carbon emitter and has a significant role to play in accelerating our path towards net zero emissions,” said Mr de Brenni.
“The Queensland Government has been working hard with the ACT Government to present this proposal to national energy ministers and we will continue to cooperate with all jurisdictions to deliver this historic reform.
“At the same time, we are continuing to keep downward pressure on power prices and driving the transition to renewable generation and storage.”
Mr de Brenni said prioritising inclusion of emissions reduction goals in the National Energy Objectives has also gained the support of Queensland’s key energy stakeholders.
“Many of these stakeholders have been seeking this change for years but it’s been blocked by successive federal Morrison, Turnbull & Abbott LNP governments.
“In fact, the original National Objectives go back even further to the Howard government, which resisted the inclusion of emissions in the first instance.
“It’s a clear and direct signal to the entire nation as well as the global community that everyone is now working together in this new energy era.”
Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the ‘unprecedented and welcome milestone’ would drive decision-making and action to reach Queensland and the nation’s climate target of net zero emissions by 2050.
“This is about taking real action on climate change and seizing the good job opportunities from renewable energy,” Minister Scanlon said.
“Already, more than $10 billion has been invested in Queensland renewables since 2015 – putting us well on the path towards our emissions targets and in creating cheaper, cleaner power.
“This agreement is consistent with the type of leadership our nation needs to address climate change.
“It would ensure every element of the national energy framework is working in concert towards a common objective.
Mr de Brenni said an emissions reduction priority in the NEO would support more renewable energy generation, which can only mean cheaper power for Queensland homes and businesses.
“Agreement to start work on what would be legally binding energy objectives sends a very clear message to industry and investors that all Australian governments are committed to achieving a decarbonised and reliable power grid,” he said.
“These changes will ensure decisions made under the National Electricity Law, National Gas Law and National Energy Retail Law will consider emissions alongside other outcomes including price, reliability and security.”
Mr de Brenni said the lack of consideration of emissions reductions had been a point of contention since the NEO’s creation almost two decades ago, when an environmental objective was blocked by the then Howard government.
“In submissions to the Finkel Review of 2017, even the energy market bodies argued against the inclusion of any reference to environmental consideration in the NEO and governments of the recent past have not allowed the discussion to be had – so this is a step change in the debate,” he said.
“There will of course be a formal process to consult stakeholders on the best way to achieve this important change.”